Suitcase and World: Jerash.

Saturday, February 17, 2007


Our last afternoon in Jordan would be spent exploring Jerash.

After we got back to the hotel from our trip to St. George's Basilica, we cleaned up a bit and met back in the lobby for our ride to Jerash. Kirsten was not coming with us as her flight home was leaving mid afternoon. As we stood on the front steps of the hotel, we each gave her a big hug and wished her a safe trip. It was a tearful goodbye, especially for Laura - the two had grown so close together on the trip that they had already made plans for Kirsten to visit Laura in New Zealand. For the rest of us, it was just sad to know that we would all soon be going our separate ways.

We drove north towards Amman and soon found ourselves in suburbia. We continued through the outskirts of the bustling metropolis - houses sprawled out on surrounding hillsides and all sorts of business establishments flanking either side of the road.

Roadside plant nurseries were a common sight giving the impression that residents of Amman were preparing for the arrival of spring.

Jerash lies about an hour's drive north of Amman. The site, which are the extensive ruins of an ancient Roman city, is situated within the geographic confines of its namesake town which sprung up around it over time.

Daniel got us our tickets.

With only two hours to explore the entire site, we quickly went on our way. The first monument - Hadrian's arch. The arch was built to honor the visit of the Roman emperor Hadrian to Jerash in 129 to 130 AD.

There are indications everywhere e.g., the scaffolding at Hadrian's arch that excavation work is still underway at Jerash.

Pass through Hadrian's Arch and you come to the Hippodrome....

....where today, they hold recreations of Roman battles and chariot races.

We strolled past the Hippodrome towards the South Gate.

Passing through the South Gate, we came to the Oval Plaza - an expansive, oval shaped plaza framed by columns.

A view of the Oval Plaza from an upper level path.

From the Plaza, the main thoroughfare into Jerash is the Cardo - a colonnaded walkway.

I wanted to take a picture of the pavement which was pretty uneven. Daniel walked up and stood next to me and I snapped this photo of our two shadows.

There's something about seeing columns that makes you want to look up and take pictures of the capitals at the top!

The first set of "streets" that intersects the Cardo is the South Decumanus which is also colonnaded.

Walking down the Cardo, we passed the ruins of the Cathedral.

Dora standing at the entrance to the Cathedral.

When we reached the end of the Cardo, we turned left and headed up the hill to the North Theatre. We entered the theatre about 3/4 of the way up to the top of the auditorium style seating area.

While Daniel made his way to the top of the North Theatre, the rest of us took the opportunity to rest our feet and enjoy a bit of shade.

Me snapping a photo of Lei....

....snapping a photo of me!

A view of the North Theatre from the stage.

A front, center view of the stage.

Beneath the stage is a series of cubbyholes. We couldn't resist daring Daniel to squeeze his 6+ foot tall frame into one of the cubbyholes. It's a tight squeeze and he's remarkably flexible!

We eventually moved on and came to the Temple of Artemis with its beautiful Corinthian columns.

"Interior" view of the Temple of Artemis.

Close up view of Corinthian capitals.

As we continued on our walk, we heard the sounds of bagpipes. Yes, bagpipes. No, we're not in Scotland, we're in Jordan. Curious to find the source of the sounds, we let our ears guide us and soon came to the South Theatre. We entered and found three Jordanian military guards entertaining a crowd. It was a slightly disconnected experience - listening to Scottish standards being played in a Roman theatre by Jordanian guards. Nonetheless, I took a seat and enjoyed the music and watched the crowd.

Ever the enthusiastic photographer, Lei climbed to the top of the South Theatre and took a photo of the stage from way above.

In contrast, from where I sat, I took a photo of the stage.

It was coming up on two hours so we quickly left the South Theatre. We figured we had enough time to see the next monument - the Temple of Zeus - but for some reason, we couldn't figure out how to get to it. We gave up and walked back towards the South Gate and left Jerash behind.

With memories of Abu Simbel, Philae, Karnak, Habu, Petra and Karak still fresh in my mind, I was certain that Jerash was not going to make much of an impression on me. It was just going to be another Roman ruin like so many others that I had seen before. I could not have been more wrong!! Even though what's left of the city is a mere skeleton of what it was like centuries ago, I can imagine how grand it must have been in its heyday. As with Petra, I'm glad that Jordan is preserving this treasure so that future generations can walk the Cardo as I had and continue to admire the monuments of Jerash and civilization that constructed it.