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Jordan is one of the safest and most touristic countries in the Middle Petra
Petra alone justifies every trip to Jordan. It is one of those places that no matter how many things they have told you, never disappoint you. A traveling mecca. When you walk through the siq, the famous 1.2 kilometer-long gorge that gives access to the stone-carved city of the Nabataeans, you think of all the wonders previously read about Petra tours and it even seems to fall short. When the yes that finally opens and you come out in front of the famous facade of the Treasury (actually a funerary monument dedicated to King Artes IV), you understand why this troglodyte city has fascinated travelers since ancient times.
Another of the classic stops is in this city – Madaba – of about 60,000 inhabitants where valuable mosaics from the Byzantine and Umayyad times are preserved. The one that is usually visited is that of the Greek Orthodox Church of San Jorge. In some renovations, a 6th-century mosaic map appeared that represents what this entire area of the Near East was like at that distant time. Jerusalem, the delta of the Nile, and all the localities of the Holy Land are described. But come on, it is not to shoot rockets either, the visit is good but if you are short of time, it is dispensable. Other mosaics can be seen in different parts of the city.
Amman is not a particularly touristy city (it is modern and functional), but it does have certain points of interest. One of them is the Citadel of Amman -where there are traces of all the cultures and religions that have passed through here-, you also have to visit the Roman theater and take a walk through its boulevards and alleys in search of a cafe where you can have a drink. tea or a restaurant where you can eat hummus or a good mansaf (lamb stewed with yogurt sauce).
Petra by night – Petra by night
If interesting is during the day, Petra at night is pure magic. A night entrance is organized several times a week, with the Siq and the façade of the Treasury illuminated by candles. But people are usually very loud and disrespectful. It is convenient to wait at the facade of the Treasury for the hordes to leave (they do so as soon as the musical show ends) and then go quietly enjoying the entire gorge for ourselves.
Wadi Rum desert
Wadi Rum is the stone desert that occupies the extreme southeast of parched Jordan, bordering Saudi Arabia. It is a desert of magical mountains, islands of fossilized sand that rise from the thirsty plain like silent giants. Tremendous rock outcrops emerge from the plain like mysterious cities from a distant planet. The fossilized sand columns are topped by domes with Byzantine airs and the colors of the rock and sand, ranging from deep red to caramelized mother-of-pearl, seem to catch fire every afternoon with the hues of sunset. It is the desert of Lawrence of Arabia, which he toured many times during his adventures with the Arab Revolution from 1916 to 1918. Lawrence was in love with this place of stone and sand that he wrote about in his autobiographical book “The Seven Pillars of Wisdom”. many flattering phrases.
Hiking in Wadi Rum
The normal thing for tourists to visit Jordan is to take a couple of hours’ jeep ride through a corner of the desert, take some photos in a couple of dunes and as many viewpoints, buy some trinkets in a Bedouin store and continue traveling. Big mistake. To discover the essence of the Wadi Rum desert, you have to travel more slowly, go among those tall sandstone towers, listen to the silence, smell the wind, feel its red sands, feel on your skin the solitude of scenes burned for millions of years. I recommend hiring a guide to trek through the desert and stay overnight in one of the Hamas camps in the interior.
The toponym Aqaba also refers to Lawrence of Arabia. But the one you will find looks little like that coastal town that Lawrence and his Bedouins stormed. Today Aqaba is a flourishing port city, Jordan’s only outlet to the sea. A piece of 24 kilometers that the distribution of borders with pencils that were made after World War II bequeathed to the Hashemite kingdom so that it would have a port on the Red Sea. The city itself is not worth much, it is modern and drawn with pencils like all of these coasts. But it has become a great vacation center for its benefits as a spa and above all for its good qualities for diving and snorkeling. The seabed of Aqaba is a miniature mosaic of all the excellencies of the Red Sea. This is an organized four-hour excursion to snorkel in the Red Sea and explore these fascinating seabeds.
The Dead Sea, another must-see in Jordan to take a typical photo reading the newspaper while floating and smearing yourself with biblical mud. But it is more of a historical curiosity than a spectacular landscape; in fact, the setting disappoints. No sails, no boats, no ports, no nets or fishermen can be seen on its shores. It is a strange sensation, a sea that has had part of its iconography taken away. It is then when you realize that you are really in front of a very dead person. It is almost 35% salt, nine times more than any ocean. And this is due to two factors: it has hardly any freshwater input (it is a sea where no river flows) and the high heat contributes to evaporating the little that remains. It is the lowest emerged point on the planet: 406 meters below sea level. Large hotel complexes, with pools and various activities, have flourished on their banks, vacation favorites for Jordanians and other border nations.
The castles of the desert
Jordan was always a land of passage, a strategic point on the routes between Baghdad and Damascus and Medina and Kufa. The caliphs of the Umayyad dynasty built numerous fortresses between the 7th and 8th centuries to defend these routes. Today the ruins of a score of them are preserved, most of the south of Amman, in a flat, stony, and monotonous desert. They were not just castles in the strict sense of the word, they also served as post houses and granaries. One of the best-preserved is that of Qusayr Amra, declared a World Heritage Site. Others are nothing more than adobe ruins.
According to the Old Testament, Moses, after leading his people for 40 years through the desert, and having been forbidden access to the Promised Land, saw it from the top of a mound before dying. This point is supposed to be the top of Mount Nebo, an 800-meter-high hill in the Jordan Valley. In Byzantine times a church was built here, but it was rebuilt in the 20th century by the Franciscans; it is the one that today presides over the hill. Fortunately, the original mosaics were preserved. Honestly: the place is not worth it, beyond the historical circumstance. And even this is not certain: the holy books do not say where exactly the mountain of Moses was.