Walking Tour of Amman
Begin at the hilltop Citadel, set on the highest point in Amman, Jebel Al Qala’a, and the site of the ancient Rabbath-Ammon. The site has been occupied since the Bronze era, and is surrounded by a 1700m long wall, which has been added to during Roman, Byzantine and Umayyad periods. The most striking site is the Temple of Hercules and the Ummayad Palace. The Temple of Hercules was built during the reign of Marcus Aurelius (AD 161-80). The most striking section is around the Umayyad Palace, which dates from about the 8th Century and is an extensive complex of royal and residential buildings.
From the Citadel, you can see the original seven hills that the city was built upon, and your guide will give you a great introduction to the city. You then walk down Al Qalat St around the Citadel Walls leading down to Salah Bin Al Akwa St. There is the best viewpoint here of the Roman Theatre you will visit later. You then walk down Amman Panorama Art Gallery, where you can pop in.
Your walking tour of Amman continues as you then cross Hashemi St and through Hashemite Sq and walk up the hill to the left of the Roman Theatre, and look out over the hotchpotch of facades that line the main road, most of which date from the mid-19th to the mid-20th centuries. Here you can stop for a morning coffee.
To your right, you will see the Roman Odeon, dating from the 2nd Century AD. Next to it is the Roman Theatre which is the most striking remnant of Roman Philadelphia. It seats 6000 people, and built in the reign of Antoninus Pius (AD 138–61). It was built in three tiers, with the rulers closest to the action, followed by the military in the middle and the general public in the top rows.
Your walking tour of Amman then takes you into into what was the Roman Forum, now a rebuilt plaza before you head into the downtown area of Amman. You head into Hashemi St, passing nut shops, perfumeries and a store selling mosque accessories such as brass crescents for minaret tops. You then reach the Nymphaeum. Built in 191 AD, it was an elaborate public fountain – all dedicated to the nymphs. It takes a little imagination to work out how it looked, but you guide is there to explain it all.
Next, delve into the fruit and vegetable souq, passing sticky Saudi dates, Iranian pistachios and Syrian olives. You then pass the flat-bread bakeries, before entering the hardware souq. Turn into Petra St where you are greeted with the waft of spice-grinding and coffee-roasting. On the other side of the street are the traditional Arabic medicine stalls – complete with dried lizards, trays of starfish and drawers of herbs and henna.
Pass Al Husseiny Mosque, where at Friday lunchtimes hordes of men stream out after the weekly sermon. Local craftsmen often congregate outside the mosque with their tools to catch the passing trade.
Turn into Basman St – showcasing fine examples of Palestinian embroidered dresses before entering the Woman’s Souq, totally challenging any preconceptions of Arab women. You might see risqué lingerie fluttering in an alleyway.
Head into the Gold Souq on Al Malek Faisal St, where Jordanian men are expected to spend a portion of their salary. It might be worth popping into Duke’s Diwan – a historic townhouse showing old photographs of Amman. Dip into Habibah, a sweetmeat store featuring brass platters of kunafa (shredded wheat and syrup dessert). You finish for lunch or dinner at Hashem Restaurant. You driver will be waiting for you to take to your hotel, concluding tour walking tour of Amman.