Thursday, 17 February 2011

Visit to Umm Qais

I have been away from my blog for ages, and I am so happy that I can finally sit down and write again! There are always lots of reasons why one can't blog, but my main reason (a part from having visitors for quite some time) is that Bibs kind of took over my laptop when the tv suddenly went funny. The only time during the day I can write is when she quietly sits and watches her favourite program "Peppa Pig". So you got it, TV is working again: Bibs can have her screen and I can have mine.

Have so much to tell as we have done quite a few things in the last month; and I have decided to start with the last thing we did: a visit to Umm Qais.

Umm Qais is located in the North Westerly corner of Jordan, just at the border with Israel and Syria; the site overlooks Lake Tiberias, aka Sea of Galilee, the Golan Heights and the Jordan Valley. It was a member of the Decapolis (during the Roman Empire) and was then known as Gadara. The city was then a cultural centre and was home to many poets and philosophers.

I found the site very beautiful, specially because it is so green there. Unfortunately it takes nearly 2 hours to get there from Amman - the drive goes through Irbid, the second largest city in Jordan and that means that you waste a lot of time.

Entrance to the site
It is fairly easy to get to Umm Qais, there are signs the whole way (this is worth mentioning as: 1. it is very rare in Jordan - 2. it is not the case when you need to go back to Amman!). The entrance is free for the residents and tourists need to pay 3JD.

View of the theatre
The theatre was built in the 2nd century AD against the western slope of the Acropolis. It could host around 3000 visitors and is built entirely in basalt. It was destroyed by an earthquake in the 8th century.
There are many things to look at on the site:
The main road in Gadara
The Nymphaeum
Archaeological museum (closed on Tuesday) 
The site is also known for a biblical event: this is thought to be the place where Jesus cast devils into swine, which then drowned in the waters of Lake Tiberias.

View of the Lake Tiberias or Sea of Galilee (and the Nymphaeum)
If you schedule your visit over lunch I have heard that the guesthouse, located just across the road from the entrance should be rather good - not a bad idea before a long drive back. The views are surely stunning. 

Jordan Valley
The other attraction of the area is Al-Himma - therapeutical hot springs located about 10 kilometres north of Umm Qais, they were already in use by the Romans, whom apparently regarded them highly. Today there are both a privately run bath and a public one (with separate timetables for men and women).

As I have already said it is a bit far away, which is unfortunate because I don't think I will go again. It is the kind of place you visit once. Yes, the views are amazing, the biblical reference interesting, but it is just too far from Amman. I wouldn't recommend to go to Jerash and then Umm Qais, I think it is too much to do in one day. One last thing it is not a stroller friendly site!

Here is a link to more pictures.


Mwa said...

I would love to go there!

Anonymous said...

How fascinating! I'd love to visit those sites someday. Beautiful photos, too!

P.S. Nice to see you blogging again, I do understand your absence!

P.P.S. My kids all loved that Peppa Pig show, we miss it now that we have American TV!

Babs said...

hey Coop! Have to look at your new blog :) can't wait to read about Alaska! The Roman sites in Jordan are amazing - still got a few to look at :) ah! Peppa Pig - she loves it!!!

@ Mwa: There are many things to look at in Jordan - worth the visit certainly!!

Ehab said...

Long time no see...

Glad you liked Umm Qais, I hope you keep enjoying your time, and keep us updated, will ya? :)

Babs said...

I know Ehab! Far too long... have many things is store, lol just need to find the time to write :)

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