13 August, 2012

Sights from Ajloun, Kingdom of Jordan

Rolling hills. Greener than most parts of Jordan. Located about an hour's (about 75Km./46Miles) drive from Amman; of Jordan, Ajloun is distinct in some ways: it has one of the very few forested areas in the Kingdom; it has an imposing old fortress/castle; and it has a very interesting history. Due to its fertile soil, attractive dry sub-humid Mediterranean climate and spectacular surroundings, Ajlun has a very long history of human settlement. Of all those who settled or passed through this very scenic part of Jordan, none is as notable, revered and as well remembered as the Great Muslim military commander and leader: Salah ad-Din Al Ayyubi. Al Ayyubi having been here, and the scenery, was the main reason we went visiting Ajloun.

Ajloun
Almost all of the Kingdom of Jordan is desert; only about 1% of the country is forested. To this day, this very little greenery that is still left in the north of the Kingdom is in danger of being destroyed, mainly due to development projects.
Ajloun
Ajloun Forest Reserve (established in 1988 by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature) of about 13 square kilometers (about 5 square miles) - does not only support such trees, mainly of indigenous  pine (Pinus and Quercus), such as: the Evergreen Oak, the Carob, Wild Almond, Wild Pistachio and the Strawberry tree; it also has animals such as: the Roe Deer, Wild Boars, the Stone Marten, the Golden Jackal, the Red Fox, Indian Crested Porcupine, the Striped Hyena, wolves and some other smaller animals; the forest also has several species of birds.
Ajloun
 Due to human settlement and encroachment, most of Ajloun's forest has disappeared; and the Roe Deer, its most prominent animal, was only reintroduced in 1988 and ever since, they have been protected and have increased in numbers.
Ajloun
Ajlun's many ruins, including in the center of its very small town where there is an old mosque, the Great Ajloun Mosque (for the last few years still being repaired and renovated), which dates back to about 800 years - reflect its old, rich and long history.
Ajloun
To really appreciate the castle, the forests and the breathtaking scenery in Ajlun, you will need at least two days.
Ajlun
The area is sparsely populated and wherever you are in Ajlun, you will see some trees. The higher you go, the better and the more awesome is the view.
Ajlun
Some parts of Ajlun are over 1,200 meters high; the highest populated center, Ras Munif, stands at about 1,290 meters high.
Ajlun
With its pleasant climate, spectacular beautiful scenery and extensive walking trails - Ajloun is a favorite for picnic goers mainly from the Kingdom and other nearby Arab countries.
Ajlun
Few tourists from other countries who visit Jordan, visit Ajloun. They do not know what they are missing: historical sites, the wildlife reserve and much more, make this place very attractive. And above all - there is the towering Ayyubid Castle.
Ajlun
Ajloun Castle or Qal'at Ar'Rabad (seen above at the highest point of this photo), built in 1184 AD on Jabal Auf, was ingeniously built by one of Salah ad-Din Al Ayyubi's generals. The castle was strategically built high up here, to control the very important trade routes between Jordan and Syria.
Ajlun
This fortress/castle played a major role for Salah ad-Din Al Ayyubi and his forces to defeat the crusaders and take over control of Jerusalem.
Ajlun
Any one who visits Jerash, which is near by, should visit Ajloun. The ride from Jerash is one of the most scenic and most pleasant that you can ever have while in the Kingdom.
Ajlun
Pine forests, olive trees, breathtaking hills and valleys, and several small villages are all, very much worth the ride from Jerash.
Ajlun
Personally, of all of the Kingdom, none is as enchantingly beautiful and scenic, for me, as Ajloun and its surrounding areas.
Ajloun
On the way, between Ajlun and Jerash, can be found vendors selling a variety of fruits and vegetables. All fresh; some of what is on sale is from far and some, like - grapes, olives, apples, figs and stone fruits - are from around Ajloun.
On the road between Ajloun and Jerash
From Amman, very early in the morning, from Mahatta Al Shemaal, you can take a bus to Ajloun. It is much cheaper by bus rather than by taxi. And you get to mix with and know the reserved and yet very friendly and very welcoming Jordanians. Ajloun town, like Jerash, is very small. Once there, you can take a taxi to the Ayyubid Fortress or to the Ajloun Nature Reserve or to Mar Elias (where reputedly Prophet Ilyaas - Elijah - was born). Or better, you can walk around; all the way to the Fortress, a distance of about only 3 Km., but, uphill. Before taking a taxi, it is best to negotiate the price. Note: getting means to Ajloun from Amman to Ajloun or from Ajloun to Amman - is difficult in the afternoons. It is best to do all the traveling by bus or taxi, before noon.

+ Other Wonderful Places to visit in the Kingdom of Jordan:
The River Jordan
The Dead Sea
The Citadel
The Roman Theater
* Jerash
Petra
Kahaf Ahl Kahf
* Rainbow Street, Amman
* Souk JARA, Amman