Amman is very different from its “capital” Middle Eastern neighbors – Cairo or Damascus. This is not a great cultural center dating back thousands of years, where every stone breathes history. This is a modern Arab city that can become a great “breath” of fresh air after the musty antiquity of Syria or Egypt, or it can turn into a complete disappointment for tourists who do not want to see the expansion of European globalization to the ancient, powerful and mysterious East.
Note: according to allcitypopulation, the population of Jordan is 10.27 million (2021).
It is impossible to understand the soul of Amman without visiting its two parts. The first is Eastern Amman, conservative, Muslim, where the poor people roam the narrow streets, and Palestinian refugee camps are set up on the outskirts. The complete opposite is Western Amman with its comfortable quarters, trendy cafes and bars, impressive collections of art galleries, including contemporary art. In short, if you want to visit the capital of Jordan to walk through the medieval bazaars or enjoy the grandiose heritage of Islam, then you should not. Come to Amman to immerse yourself in the everyday life of a lively, modern, contrasting city that invariably welcomes its guests with warmth and oriental cordiality.
Cuisine and restaurants in Amman
Amman boasts a wide variety of restaurants, ranging from the national cuisine of the Middle East to European, fast food and chain cafes. Prices vary greatly, the most affordable food is Arabic, you can find it everywhere. Dinner in a good restaurant will cost 35 JOD per person.
Meat dishes contain lamb and chicken, rarely beef and never pork. Shawarma (shawarma) is made from lamb meat and wrapped in a flatbread. The best one can be found in the alley, in the Shawermat Reem tent, on 2nd Circle. It’s a very popular place and it’s very cheap. Rice and bread cakes are a typical side dish. A specialty Jordanian dish is mansaf made from lamb and rice, eaten with the hands. They also love pea-based dishes: falafel, hummus, and full.
One of the most famous places in Amman is the Hashem restaurant located in the city center. You can eat here for no more than 1.50 JOD, which is very cheap compared to other restaurants. At the same time, the institution is one of the favorite places of the royal family. Nearby is Habeebah, where you can taste oriental sweets baklava, the national traditional dessert knafeh nabelseyyeh.
Entertainment and attractions in Amman
From the ancient Amman, only the citadel remained, towering over the city on the hill of Jabal al-Qalaa. Nearby are the ruins of the Umayyad palace park. Nearby are the ruins of a small Byzantine basilica, and about 100m to the south are the remains of the Temple of Hercules, also known as the Great Temple of Amman.
Just an hour’s drive from Amman is the “Pompeii of the East” – the city of Jerash. 17 Byzantine churches, two amphitheatres, several ancient streets framed by columns have been preserved here.
12 km south of the city, on top of a hill, is Kan Zaman, a restored complex of stables, warehouses and living quarters, which has become one of Amman’s most popular tourist destinations. In Can Zaman you can find traditional dishes, the best handicrafts, smoke hookah and drink real Jordanian coffee. The Wadi al-Sir Valley, located 12 km west of the city, is one of the most beautiful places in Jordan. The road passes several small villages and reaches the caves of Iraq al-Emir (“caves of the prince”), and ends at the fortress of Qasr al-Abd (“Castle of the slave”).
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Museums in Amman
Of the several dozen museums located in the capital, there are those that are definitely worth a visit. First of all, the Jordan Museum of Folk Traditions is a relatively young collection that is located in the Roman Amphitheater. Household items, costumes, jewelry – all this allows you to better know the culture and customs of local ethnic groups.
Painting aficionados will love the Jordanian National Gallery of Fine Arts, which has over 2,000 contemporary paintings, sculptures, and ceramics by artists from across the Middle East. The exhibition space is well organized, in addition, temporary exhibitions are held regularly.
The Central Bank of Jordan has its own Numismatics Museum (King Al Hussein St 60). The collection is really impressive: almost 2500 coins from the ancient times of the Roman and Byzantine empires to the modern ones. Another amazing place is the Royal Automobile Museum. Magnificent vintage cars are not only exhibited to visitors, but also reveal the difficult history of the country.
Amman stands at a considerable height above sea level, and its climate has features of the Mediterranean and continental. In winter, precipitation often falls, sometimes even snow, but there are no severe frosts. But it is often foggy. The rest of the time there is practically no rain, dry and hot weather, especially in summer, makes staying in a big city not very comfortable. The best period for a trip is spring, when people do not languish from stuffiness, and everything around is blooming.