Tour of Jerash
Jerash is one of the best preserved Roman cities anywhere in the Middle East. Jerash is known for its colonnaded avenues, ceremonial gates, theatres, temples and a caste hippodrome. A tour of Jerash takes about a half-day to visit from Amman in Jordan. Your private guide will escort you around, giving you as much background as you want.
The city came to prominence when it was conquered by Pompey in 63BC. Known as Gerasa, the city became part of the Decapolis League, a collection of ten great Roman cities and it became fabulously wealthy.
You begin your tour of Jerash at Hadrian’s Arch, also known as the Triumphal Arch, and built in AD 129 for the visit of most well-travelled Emperor. Behind the arch is the hippodrome which hosted chariot races in front of 15,000 spectators.
The South Gate leads you into what was the main Forum – unique in its size being 90m long and 80m wide. Fifty-six Ionic columns surround the plaza, linking the Cardo Maximus with the Temple of Zeus.
The Temple of Zeus dates from about 162AD and is worth climbing to get a view of the site, before you visit the South Theatre, dating from the 1st Century AD with a capacity of 5000.
To the northeast of the forum you find the Cardo Maximus, Jerash’s main colonnaded street which stretches 800 metres to the North Gate. You can still see the ruts worn by thousands of chariots scored into the original flagstones. Your tour of Jerash then continues to the Numphaeum, the main fountain for the city before reaching the Propylaeum, the monumental arch.
The Temple of Artemis is quite possibly Jerash’s most iconic feature. The temple is dedicated to Artemis, the goddess of hunting and fertility and the daughter of Zeus and Leto. Built between 150 and 170 AD, the temple is flanked by 12 elaborately carved Corinthian columns (11 of which still stand). Further north, you come across the North Theatre before you reach the main Museum. Your tour of Jerash then concludes and you can drive back to Amman.