Jerash: The Coolest Ruins You’ve Never Heard Of

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Of all the outstanding views in Jordan, my favorite was from Jerash, seen at the top of the amphitheatre:

I loved it.  The ancient city’s colonnade in the foreground, the modern city in the background — this, in a nutshell, is Jordan!

The ruins of the ancient city of Jerash are some of the most impressive in the Middle East — not to mention a bit random.  Even if you’re a ruins junkie, you probably haven’t heard of Jerash.  One reason is that the ruins don’t have UNESCO World Heritage Status.

Back in the day, Jerash, then known as Gerasa, was a strategic trading point, with Damascus to the north, Amman to the south, and Jerusalem to the west.  The city rose to prominence in the first century AD and even welcomed Hadrian with an arch built in his honor, pictured above.

Jerash began to decline after the Persian invasion in 614; an earthquake leveled much of the city 150 years later.

Today, these ruins are one of Jordan’s most visited sites — second only to Petra.

Think bagpipes are a Scottish invention?  They’re actually from the Middle East!

And then there’s the show.

Jerash puts on a gladiator show a few times each day.  Honestly, don’t go in expecting a brutal, violent battle — it’s pure campy goodness!  Think gladiators sword fighting, then smacking themselves in the chest with packets of fake blood.

Fun — and totally campy.  Be ready to hold your thumb out sideways if you want the guy killed!

Check out my video of the battle here:

Jerash works best as a morning or afternoon trip from Amman — it’s a little over an hour away.  Put it on your itinerary and be ready to take pictures!

Many thanks to the Jordan Tourism Board for hosting me in Jordan.  All opinions, as always, are my own.