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Anita and Bernie’s Travel Diary

Thursday, 17 Apr 2008

Location: Amman, Jordan

MapGreetings from the realm of ancient Philadephia! We have had a fanstastic day for our 29th. - despite the jet lag (we were up & about, well nearly, at 05:00) - marred only by Anita having a bit of an upset tum, soon rectified by Immodium, thank goodness. Jerash knocks Pompeii & Herculaneum into a cocked hat. The area is enormous and the city walls used to enclose a city of 20,000. The Romans developed it in the 1st. century A.D. as a major city, though it had existed form thousands of years before them. It lies near the old trade route from China and straddles the River Jordan. When trade declined in the 4th century it declined until hit by an earthquake in 749, when it was virtually abandoned. The buildings became part covered in soil, like Pompeii. It was re-discovered in the 19th. century, but more or less left alone, apart from stone robbers. The west of the site was bought by a Swiss business man, who is leading the restoration. The carvings on the Corinthian capitals are beautifully intricate, those on the recently excavated pediment and frieze to the gateway to the Temple of Artemis are exquisite and almost perfect having been covered up for 1,200 years. The hippodrome would have housed 15,000 people. The amphitheatre has an almost complete stage and basckstage, which must make it one of the best preserved. The acoustic point in the Orchestra is exact - even a whisper is returned to you. 4 hours passed very quickly. Jordan gave us perfect sight-seeing weather.
Afterwards we went to Ajluna castle, established by Saladin. It must have been a place to send soldiers as a punishment: it is filled with stairways heading off in different directions. It has a large number of levels and half-levels. The views are magnificent in all directions. The Department of Antiquities is doing a good job, albeit slowly and with a passing attention to health & safety!
Tomorrow we are going to the Dead Sea, for a 'swim' in the mud, and then on to Petra.
Best wishes to you all from a very pleasant Jordan.