The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan sits at the crossroads of Asia, Europe and Africa. Bordered by Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, Israel, and Palestine, it sits along the Jordan River to its east, the Dead Sea to the West, and has a short south-western coastline on the Red Sea. This constitutional monarchy is the 11th most populated Arab country, with a population approaching 10 million. And while the majority of its inhabitants practice Sunni Islam, there is also an indigenous Christian minority that coexists quite well, making Jordan a friendly place for Americans to tour.
When many people think of Jordan, the first thing that comes to mind is the facade of Al Khazneh (The Treasury) featured in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. But this 45-meter-high elaborately ornate structure carved into the face of a pink sandstone cliff is only one of hundreds of buildings dating back to approximately 300 BCE. And Petra is only one face of the many-faceted gem that is Jordan.
Petra, also known as “The Rose City,” is Jordan’s most well known and most-visited destination. The capital of the ancient Nabatean Kingdom is accessed via a picturesque trip through the narrow canyon named Al Siq. Voted as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, Petra has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985 and has an increasing number of visitors from around the world.
Beyond Petra, however, Jordan is the home to several other exquisite destinations including Wadi Musa, the town just outside Petra’s gates. Most visitors find Wadi Musa incredibly welcoming, and it is the perfect place for exploration not only of local cuisine, but of the Spice Markets, featuring delicacies such as saffron, za’atar, sumak, curry, and star anise offered at inexpensive prices in baskets as large as beach balls. These tasty souvenirs will have you reliving your explorations as you savor the flavors of the Middle East upon your return home.
For those looking for a scenic ride potentially interrupted by goat crossings, the King’s Highway is not only an ancient trade route, but an important pilgrimage route for Christians as it passes next to Mount Nebo, the site of Moses’ death and burial. Bus tours along this highway can expect to enjoy unique scenery while seeing the local shepherds, small villages, archeological sites and more.
On the northeastern tip of the Red Sea lies the inspiration for the fictional sultanate of Agrabah in Disney’s Aladdin, Aqaba, a strategic center of trade between Africa and Asia for over 1000 years. With beach resorts known for windsurfing and other watersports, the city is also a popular destination for scuba diving, especially along the Yamanieh coral reef in the Aqaba Marine Park. The Aqaba Archeological Museum and Islamic-era Aqaba Fort provide an in-depth history of the region with artifacts dating back as far as 4000 BCE.
Sixty kilometers to the east of Aqaba you’ll find Wadi Rum, the Valley of the Moon. This protected desert wilderness features dramatic sandstone mountains, natural geologic arches, and rocky caverns and chasms which sport prehistoric inscriptions and carvings. The domes of Jebel Um Ishrin, Burdah Rock Bridge, and Khazali Canyon provide numerous vistas for photographers of all skill levels, and Lawrence’s Spring is quite the popular destination. The spring is famous for an alleged visit by British soldier T.E. Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia.
All in all, Jordan is a wealth of vistas and sights that are beautiful, historical, and traveler friendly. Reach out to Endless Travel to book a tour, today!
Recommended Reading –Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an Unexpected Life Autobiography by American-born Queen Noor who penned an exceptional autobiography about her efforts to modernize Jordan. This strong and powerful woman worked closely with her husband to make Jordan the dynamic and exciting place it is today.
Written by Mindy Hanson, AlphaPixel Reach for Endless Travel