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Five must-see sights in Jordan

From rock-hewn temples to saltwater wonders, our favourite spots in Jordan are bound to delight.

Amid lunar-like scarps of amber sandstone, squeezed between several nations, lies magnificent Jordan. The country is an oasis of calm in the Middle East, offering a warm welcome, a rich history and delicious cuisine. On your luxury A&K holiday to Jordan, be sure to visit these top destinations. 

Petra

Though one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, new is a misnomer when it comes to Petra. The city is more than two millennia old, carved into sandstone precipices by the nomadic Nabataeans. The star of the show is arguably Al-Khazneh, ‘The Treasury’, an intricately decorated temple that appears out of nowhere in a steep rockface. Some may beg to differ, since Ad Deir (‘The Monastery’) is Petra’s largest monument, and, whilst not as decorative as Al-Khazneh, is no less awe-inspiring. This ancient desert city is unique, and one of the major draws for visitors to Jordan. It has to be seen to be believed.

Dead Sea

The Dead Sea is an eerily beautiful salt lake separating Jordan from the banks of Israel and Palestine.  One of the oldest health resorts in the world, it’s famed for its saline and mineral-rich waters. Visitors descend upon the beaches to ‘swim’ in this oasis, though due to the salt levels, ‘float’ is a more apposite verb. Laden with minerals, its black mud is a favourite ingredient for cosmetic and therapeutic treatments. You can join fellow tourists in caking themselves with the restorative gloop, then wash it all off by bobbing along in the water. Alternatively, take in the breath-taking views on dry land from your hotel balcony. During your holiday in Jordan, a visit to the Dead Sea is a must.

Wadi Rum

Aptly dubbed ‘The Valley of the Moon’, Wadi Rum is a swathe of desert characterised by towering mountains, dramatic sandstone canyons and arid plains. It’s as beautiful as its daytime sun is unforgiving. The local Bedouins have capitalised on Wadi Rum’s attraction, transforming it into a popular destination for eco-tourism. Here you can enjoy a digital detox by sleeping beneath the stars in a traditional desert camp. Or, if you’d prefer to set your heart racing, hike, scale and abseil from the jutting peaks that punctuate the rust-coloured, brush-speckled sand. This photogenic locale is a film star, too, having featured in blockbusters from Lawrence of Arabia to The Martian. 

The Amman Citadel

Jordan’s capital Amman is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world, and around every corner is a sign of its ancient history. The Amman Citadel sits high on Jebel Al Qala’a hill in the centre of downtown, overlooking the city’s sprawl of whitewashed houses. It’s a historically significant site, where you can see the relics and ruins of three ancient empires: Roman, Byzantine and Umayyad. Much of the Temple of Hercules has been lost to the ravages of time, but its remaining portico columns give an idea of how impressive this structure would have been. The curled hand of Hercules, a stone carving once part of a towering statue, lends everything here an Ozymandian poignancy. 

Jerash

Jerash has transformed into one of Jordan’s most popular tourist destinations, behind only Petra. The modern city sits on the foundations of a place far older: here lies what’s arguably the world’s best preserved Roman provincial town. The scale of the ancient stone structures surrounding contemporary Jerash are breath-taking. Take a guided wander around the site to see Hadrian’s Arch, the North Theatre and the many columns of the forum. Much of these ruins have been restored in recent years, and offer a glimpse into the ancient civilisations that once ruled Jordan.