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Amman

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Amman is the capital and largest city of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (population c. 2.1 million). Amman forms a great base for exploring the country and does, in fact, hold a few items of interest to the traveler. The city is generally well-appointed for the traveler and the people are very friendly.

Contents

[edit] Understand

A city built of white stone, Amman's growth has skyrocketed since it was made the capital of Trans-Jordan in the early 1920s, but especially after the 1948 and 1967 wars with Israel where hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees settled. Another wave arrived after the second Iraq war, with Iraqi refugees forming the majority of newcomers.

Its history, however, goes back many millennia. The settlement mentioned in the Bible as Rabbath Ammon was the capital of the Ammonites, which later fell to the Assyrians. It was dominated briefly by the Nabataeans before it became a great Roman trade center and was renamed Philadelphia. After the Islamic conquests, Amman became part of the Muslim empire, until the Ottomans were forced out by the Allies, with the help of the Hashimites, who formed a monarchy that continues to rule until the present.

Today, West Amman is a lively, modern city. The eastern part of the city, where the majority of Amman's residents live, is predominantly poor and underdeveloped. While possessing few sites itself, Amman makes a comfortable base from which to explore the northwestern parts of the country.


Amman is a very diverse city. Palestinian, Iraqi, Circassian, Armenian,and many other ethnic groups reside in Amman. Amman was damaged because of the events of Black September but the city was rebuilt. Amman never stops growing. The city went from 20,000 inhabitants to more than 2 million people in less than a century partly because of massive influxes of refugees from Palestine and Iraq.

Most Jordanians understand English so communication shouldn't be that much of a problem but it never hurts to know a few useful phrases and come prepared with a translation book.

[edit] Get in

[edit] By plane

Most travelers to Amman (and to Jordan) will arrive via Queen Alia International Airport. For most western visitors, entry visas to Jordan can be purchased at the airport, if not already obtained from a Jordanian consulate overseas. The price of visa is 10 Jordanian Dinars ($15). Taxi transportation from the airport to Amman averages 15 Jordanian Dinars ($21).

[edit] See

Although the capital of a diverse kingdom, Amman is not what one would call "packed" with things to see, making it a great gateway to explorations further afield. Even so, the city does hold a few items of historical and cultural interest (allow maximum 2 days to see them).

  • the Roman Theatre
  • a Roman-era Nymphaeum
  • the Citadel (Jabal al-Qal'a) - located in the centre of both ancient and modern Amman.
    • the Temple of Herakles - Roman period remains
    • the Byzantine Church - dating to the 5th-6th centuries
    • the Ummayad Palace - situated in the northern portion of the Citadel
    • the National Archaeological Museum - situated on the Citadel, the museum is a small but interesting collection of antiquities from all over Jordan including some of the fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
  • Darat al Funun or 'small house of the arts' in Jabal el Weibdeh, overlooking the heart of Amman, is housed in three adjacent villas from the 1920s (and the remains of a sixth-century Byzantine church built over a Roman Temple), it has a permanent collection and also holds changing exhibitions. In the same area there are other small art galleries and the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts.
  • Rainbow St. near the 1st Circle in Jabal Amman is an interesting area to walk around and explore, it is named after the old Rainbow Cinema which is now out of use, but the area has been recently experiencing a revival with many of the old houses being restored and put into use, in the area there are some cafes and bars including [email protected] and Wild Jordan both with great views, a Hammam, the Royal Film Commission which sometimes holds outdoor screenings on its patio and some interesting small shops.

The cultural scene in Amman has seen some increased activities, notably cultural centers and clubs such as Makan House, Al Balad Theater, the Amman Filmmakers Cooperative, Remall, and Zara gallery. Around the 1st of September the Jordan Short Film Festival takes place.

[edit] Do

Due to accelerated growth the past several decades, the styles of living differs considerably as one travels from east to west throughout Amman. Visitors desiring to experience "Old Amman" should explore the central downtown, or Balad, which features numerous souqs, shops, and street vendors.

[edit] Buy

Amman has numerous antique dealers littered throughout the city. Those located in the western parts of the city will most likely be serviced by those with a competent grasp of the English language, but you run the risk of the items being a bit overpriced. For the more adventurous, some of the best tourist shopping can be done in downtown Amman (the Balad). Shopping in the Balad has a more primitive feel with shop after shop filled with wares and prices not always clearly marked and extremely negotiable.

Some interesting, original souvenir items that one may consider taking home are:

  • a keffiyeh, the traditional checkered headpiece of Jordanian men
  • an antique brass tea/coffee pot, distinctly Middle Eastern with its artistic etching and curved spout
  • olive wood carvings of various objects or figures can be purchase nearly everywhere
  • hand-crafted Jordanian daggers
  • hand-made Bedouin-style embroidered clothing

For the coffee lover, Amman's Starbucks locations (Swefieh, Adboun, Mecca Mall) offer various mugs, tumblers, and to-go cups with distinctive Jordanian and Middle Eastern flair.

Those who crave gourmet coffee have a number of choices such as Broadway in Abdoun, or Wakim and Chez Helda in Swefieh, or Paris Cafe in Elwaibdeh.

[edit] Eat

Amman features many different styles of restaurants, from traditional Middle Eastern fare to more familiar Western fast food and franchises. Prices range from ultra-cheap to moderate, depending on one's taste buds. For those on a budget, Arabic food is very affordable and can be obtained everywhere.

Arabic food generally consists of several general basic groups. Meat dishes will generally consist of lamb or chicken; beef is more rare and pork is never offered. Shwarma, which is cooked lamb meat with a special sauce rolled in piece of flat bread, is a local favorite. Rice and flat bread are typical sides to any meal. Jordan's specialty, mansaf, is a delicious lamb and rice meal, typically eaten with one's hands. Arabs serve plenty of cucumbers and tomatoes, many times accompanied by a plain white yogurt condiment. Another favorite is chick pea-based foods such as falafel, hummus, and fuul. One of Amman's most famous local foods restaurant is Hashem, located in downtown Amman. Nearby, there is Habeebah, which serves traditional east Mediterranean sweets such as baklava, but is most famous for serving a traditional dessert known as knafeh nabelseyyeh in reference to its origin from the Palestinian city of Nables.

  • Fakhr al Din - when going from 1st to 2nd circle, turn left and you shouldn't be far. A real classical of Amman's lebanese-oriented restaurant. Quite pricy byt worth it, especially if you're in the terrace on a warm evening. For local wine, i advise their "Gerasa" red wine. Reservation highly advised.
  • Kan Zaman - impressive medieval castle on a hilltop turned into a beautiful restaurant. The place is worth the visit. I couldn't say the same for the food, which is pretty basic but ok. Ask for their local "Kan Zaman" red wine. Hopefully, the prices are not proportional to the size of the hall. It's a bit difficult to get there as it is around 10km south of amman. On the highway to the airport, you'll see a sign. Leave the highway, go under the bridge and follow the small road.
  • Noodasia - my treat. Nothing to do with arabic food though, as the menu handles the whole map of asia, from Thailand to China, through Japan (good sushis) and Indonesia. Nice place, excellent service and good food for the money, but no alcohol served. It's located on Abdoun Circle, in front of the Big Fellow pub.

And even if you can afford the above-mentioned, do not forget the good surprises coming from the countless shawarma outlets and other very cheap places.

Amman is also known for all the jewelers that reside in the bustling metropolis.

[edit] Sleep

Amman has the full range of accommodation options from very basic 1 star accommodation to luxurious 5 star facilities.

[edit] Budget

  • Farah Hotel - Single 8 JD, Double ensuite 18 JD, Double shared bathroom 12 JD, Dormitory 5 JD all breakfast included [1]
  • Bdeiwi Hotel - 8 JD for a double
  • Al-Harmin Hotel - 7JD for double
  • Cliff Hostel - 2 JD for mattresses on the terrace
  • Amman Castle Hotel - 4.5 JD for a double; seems to be more catered to males and locals
  • Palace Hotel [2], King Faisal St, Downtown - 22 JD for a double
  • Sydney Hotel - Nice people, clean and safe. Prince Mohammad St, Downtown,tel +962 6 4641122,<mailto:[email protected]> - - 10 JD for a single, 14 JD for a double. Breakfast is 2 JD

[edit] Mid-range

  • Manar Hotel
  • Toledo Hotel
  • Ammon Hotel
  • Days Inns Amman
  • Howard Johnson
  • Bristol Hotel

[edit] Splurge

  • Four Seasons Amman [3], 5th Circle, Al-Kindi Street, Jabal Amman, tel 962 06 550-5555, fax 962 06 550-5556 - a wonderful luxury hotel located conveniently on the 5th Circle.
  • Kempinski Amman [4], Abdul Hameed Shouman Street, Shmeisani, tel +962 6 5200 200, tel +962 6 5200 202 - a recent addition to the city: all the luxury of a 5 star with a number of interesting modern art features in the designer building.
  • Grand Hyatt Amman, : Hussein Bin Ali Street, Jabal Amman (In the business district), : +962 6 465 1234, : [email protected], Website: amman.grand.hyatt.com. Check in:12:00pm. Check out:15:00pm. A favourite of the expat set for its laid back ambiance, terrace views and quality restaurants. Located at 3rd Circle.
  • Intercontinental Amman - another hotel popular with foreign professionals. Conveniently located between the 2nd and 3rd Circles.
  • Le Royal Hotel Amman [5], 3rd Circle, Zahran Street, Jabal Amman, tel 962 06460-3000, fax 962 06 460-3002 - Simply the best hotel in Amman.
  • Sheraton Amman - another five-star. Conveniently located on the 5th Circle.
  • Radisson SAS - a decent hotel located only a short ride from the 3rd circle.
  • Le Meridien Amman [6]- a superb hotel located in the Shmeisani district, not far from the 4th circle.

[edit] Stay Safe

Report to the Jordanian police any suspicious activity; this may be a terroist plot. In light of the 2005 Amman bombings, the Jordanian government is on alert for any terrorist cells operating within the country. Amman is safe at all hours for tourists and you find Amman to be very hospitable.

[edit] Respect

Jordan is mostly Muslim with a sizable Christian minority. Try not to say anything that might be considered an insult to King Abdullah II or Islam. Jordanians love their nation, religion, and ruler equally. Wear modest clothing.

[edit] Get out

Amman makes a convenient base for day trips to:

  • Madaba
  • Jerash (and Ajlun)
  • the Dead Sea (including Mount Nebo and the Baptism Site at the Jordan River)
  • Wadi al-Seer - A region to the west of Amman, it is a small valley leading down towards the Dead Sea. Nearby is the al-Bassa Springs, the source of the valley's river. Above the spring is the al-Deir monastery. It's a 20 minute climb up to the monastery. To reach Wadi al-Seer, head to the minibus station on al-Quds Street, just south of al-Husseini Mosque.WikiPedia:Amman

Dmoz:Middle_East/Jordan/Localities/Amman/ World66:asia/middleeast/jordan/amman




This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!