Traipsing up and down the seven hills that Amman was built on, expect to be bombarded with the scent of cardamom and coffee, as well as the sound of the sputtering oil readying fresh falafel. Prepare to dodge and weave between crowds queueing for sugar-soaked knafeh, flitting amid cascading displays of spices in the central souk or setting up shop outside fragrant cafes.
The city unfurls in every side alley, in every flight of sandstone stairs that twists around homes and shops. Amman’s highlights lie not only in its ancient sites and skyscrapers, but in the joy of daily life in the young and lively Middle Eastern metropolis.
Here’s our guide to making the most of your time in Jordan’s laidback capital.
What to do
The Amman Citadel and Temple of Hercules
Contested by countless emperors and kings in its thousands of years of prominence, Amman’s history of conquest can be traced in the hilltop ruins of the Amman Citadel. It has loomed over the city since the Bronze Age, first constructed by the Ammonites some 3,800 years ago. Subsequent rulers fortified the complex during the Iron Age, lent it Byzantine flair and gave it Umayyad architectural prowess. The Romans, who dominated Jordan for nearly 400 years, made the most substantial additions. Explore the conserved columns of the Temple of Hercules, and what remains of the colossal Hercules statue that once monopolised the Amman skyline.
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The Umayyad Palace
Venture just above the Temple of Hercules to see what remains of the mighty Umayyad Caliphate in Amman. Constructed in the early 8th century, the palatial complex and its decadent domed audience hall was used as an administrative centre for the Syrian caliphs. The second successors of the Islamic Empire, the Umayyads expanded their realm from Afghanistan to Granada in Spain, administering their vast empire from strategic complexes in Jordan, Syria and Palestine.
Where to stay
Travellers looking to splash out on a luxurious experience will be able to swim above the skyline in the rooftop pool of the W Hotel. Situated in modern Abdali, the high-end hotel is decked out in eclectic art pieces.