27 October, 2009

Sights from the Citadel, Amman

Settlements at the Citadel extends over thousands of years, through Prophets, emperors and kings. Reportedly fortified 1,800 years BC, the Hill of The Citadel, or Jabal Al Qal'a or simply Al Qal'a as it is called by locals here, is at the highest point in Amman. The present day ruins, are Byzantine, Roman and Islamic. I understand that there is a tunnel, built by the Romans, that runs underground, down the Hill to the Roman Theater. The Citadel, said to have been constructed by Emperor Marcus Aurelius between 162 and 166 AD, is where the great temple of Hercules was built.
Sights from the Citadel, Amman
Much of the structure has disappeared - stolen or simply destroyed. As we visited this site, maintenance work was going on. I could notice that much has to be done to make the site easily accessible and at the same time keep the place intact.
Sights from the Citadel, Amman
The view of the old part of modern day Amman from here is spectacular and extremely breathtaking. From all sides of the hill, one can view Amman down below. Far in the distance, close to the Jordanian flag, is one of the King's palace.
Sights from the Citadel, Amman
Dating from the late 6th century AD, the Byzantine Basilica Church is located within the Citadel. It was destroyed along with the rest of the Citadel in an earthquake and was never rebuilt. The nave of the Church contained a few Corinthian columns which were probably recycled from an earlier Roman temple.
Sights from the Citadel, Amman
The view of Amman, as seen above from here, is panoramic. Even here, in the streets below, where houses are crowded and packed closely together - I was very impressed by the neatness of the streets; the city's municipality does an excellent job. From up here, you get a wonderful view of the awe inspiring Amphitheater which is down very close to present day streets of the old part of modern day Amman.
Sights from the Citadel, Amman
The tallest columns rise up to 33 feet - there seems to have been a fascination by the Romans with the number 3.
Sights from the Citadel, Amman
Within this site, many people and civilizations have gone through; and traces of Byzantine, Roman and the Muslim Omayyads can be found.
Sights from the Citadel, Amman
Cities had existed here just as down below and beyond, present day Amman sprawls. Considering the great care, intricacy and the fineness of the structures - their is no doubt that those who occupied this place through time, must have been very cultured and advanced. I couldn't help taking very long to look at the structure above, below and the many others like it here, and be completely in awe of those who made them.
Sights from the Citadel, Amman
Imagine moving these very large boulders uphill to this site and then erecting these marvelous columns, walls and putting decorations on them: how much thought, planning, care and time it must have taken to do this. And yet, each of these civilizations who did this, declined and crumbled to give way to others.
Sights from the Citadel, Amman
Above behind the old columns: the National Archaeological Museum, the only modern building on the site, is one of the museums with some of the most impressive artifacts one can see - dating back to thousands of years. Inside, there are statues, sculptures, old coins, old pottery, mosaics, old jewelry,  and most impressive of all and the most remarkable are the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Sights from the Citadel, Amman

In the Museum on display, is the skeleton of a child which was previously buried in a large vessel. The practice of burying children in jars was widely practiced in many parts of the Middle East in the ancient days; many were buried  in tombs or under houses. Many of these children too, were killed and offered as sacrifices.
Sights from the Citadel, Amman
I understand that some times visitors are not allowed to take pictures in the Museum; I was lucky to have taken several. The problem with taking pictures is that, if one is not careful - while busy taking photos, one can easily miss taking closer looks and seeing reality; and the amazing displays.
Sights from the Citadel, Amman
I was told that more excavations and studies are being done and are still to be done and that, maybe, much more is still to be discovered here and around than what has already been known about the site and its surroundings.
Sights from the Citadel, Amman
Few countries offer as many ancient, historical sites as Jordan. Many of which are sacred. The ones I have seen so far, are simply stunning and awe inspiring. I have yet to see Jordan's masterpiece - Petra; and there are many other fascinating sites within the country, including Mount Nebo where, according to the Bible, the Prophet Moses is said to have viewed the Promised Land.
Sights from the Citadel, Amman
Below: one of the most impressive building of the Citadel, known as Al'Qasar by locals - meaning the palace. Built by the Omayyad dynasty in 720 AD, the palace complex housed the governor of Amman and his entourage. The complex included a mosque, an entrance hall, residential and administrative buildings and a water cistern. The mosque was located just outside the complex, and the non-religious section was accessed through the entrance hall where visitors were received. 
Sights from the Citadel, Amman
The entrance hall is the best preserved structure in the complex. The rest lies mostly in ruins, but their foundations are clearly visible.The mosque is said to have been destroyed by an earthquake in about 750 AD. The dome was built during restoration, but it is still being debated whether it existed in the building's original form; most experts say the dome did exit. Above is the Omayyad mosque's ruined facade. And below, rebuilt recently, is what is said to have been the dome of the mosque.
Sights from the Citadel, Amman
Entry fees here, too, was cheap. From the Citadel, we walked. As it is downhill all the way, it was easy. Along the way down, is the old part of modern day Amman. The streets are narrow, but still neat. Even within the narrow streets, there are plants and trees. Walking downwards made me understand even more, how much difficult and hard it must have been carrying all the material required for constructing, through time and different civilizations, the many parts of the Citadel.


+ Other Wonderful Places in the Kingdom of Jordan:
The River Jordan
The Dead Sea
The Roman Theater
* Jerash
* Petra
Kahaf Ahl Kahf