So many folks travel come to Amman simply as a transit point to other destinations. However Amman has quite a few wonderful sites of its own to visit and see and lots of great restaurants and other places to experience if you know where to look. Having lived there for several months over more than one occasion I wanted to pass on a destinations to visit if you find yourself in town. Better yet, take more time and get to really experience the city while you are here.
One of the most recognizable sites in all of Amman, the restored Roman Theater is one of the best artifacts remaining from the Roman period of Amman. Built during the reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, the theater is an impressive construction and was the center of Amman during it’s previous era. It was also built facing the north to help keep the sun from the eyes of spectators watching the performances. It is also a very popular place for Ammanis to come and take there families and relax and wander around as well. If you are lucky you might be here when they have a performance at the theater to allow you to see what the theater was meant for. Also be sure to check out the two museums inside (Folklore Museum and Popular Traditions) as well as the small theater the Odeon located next to theater through another door.
Price: 1 JD
Location: City Center
Hours: 8am – 5pm
Towering over the downtown, the Citadel is hard to miss but also seemingly difficult to get to. One of the oldest areas of the city, the Citadel offers breathtaking views of the city as well as lots of history and ancient ruins to wander about. There are ancient items from various periods of time through Amman’s history dating back from at least the Greek era. You can easily see the ruins of the Temple of Hercules from afar which makes a distinctive mark on the citadel’s area.
Price: 2 JD
Hours: 8am – 4pm (7pm in Summer) – Restricted hours during Ramadan (9am – 4pm approx.)
Location: Jabel Al-Qala’a (Fortress Mountain)
An ancient Greek and Roman monument dedicated to water and water nymphs seems to be out of place among the shops and traffic of the city center. From the outside it looks partly abandoned and at the very least permanently closed, but generally it is not. Take a look through the fence for a guard and try to get his attention and he’ll let you into the monument.
Hours: Honestly don’t really know, depends when the guard is on duty I think.
Location: City Center – Koraysh Street – Close to the King Hussein Mosque
The Hejaz Railway was railway that stretched from Istanbul to Damascus down to the Mecca and Medina. Built over a century ago, it supposedly kept running until a few years ago (due to the war in Syria). It it still a very fascinating place to visit with an incredible history. There are still several locomotives on location as well as a small museum. The workers there will give you a tour however you’ll need a decent level of Arabic to really appreciate it.
P.S. Ring the doorbell if you get there and it seems closed
Location: King Abdullah Street, several miles outside the city center and you’ll need a taxi or your own car to reach. Don’t expect folks to really know where you are trying to go unfortunately.
Price: We ended up paying the guy a few dinar for letting us in and showing us around.
Hours: Probably about 9am – 5pm – although no hours were posted.
Jordan National Museum
This museum seems to be perpetually under construction but it is open currently but only a limited time each week. One of the highlights of this museum is the fascinating Dead Sea Scrolls which are a must see if you are in town during the right days. There is plenty to see in the museum beyond that from the history of this region and the changes over the millenniums. Other interesting items include the oldest known statue in the world, various traditional dress of the different regions of the country, as well as ancient writings, pottery, and more.
Location: Omar Matar Street – It is located close to the city center (wasat al-balad) in the new area of the city center (Ras Al-ayn). Most taxi drivers don’t seem to know the museum yet but if you mention the neighborhood you’ll get there. Look for the large Greater Amman Municipality building located next to it as well.
Price: Free (currently)
Hours: Saturday – Monday from 10am – 2pm. It’s been on this schedule for over a year now so I don’t know when the full schedule will go into effect.
One of my favorite little museums in my favorite neighborhood in Amman is the little art museum that was a former residence of the former Arab Bank president. Darat Al-funun is a beautiful place to wander around and look at the current art exhibits on display or sit at the café and have tea and escape from the noise and congestion of the city. There are also regular special exhibits and programs at the museum so be sure to check out the website for what is currently going on.
Location: Nadeem Al Mallah St (about halfway between Jabel Al-Webdeih about halfway between Wasat al-balad and Paris Square)
Hours: 10am – 7pm , Ramadan 10am –3pm – Closed August
Jordan Archeological Museum
Located within the confines of the Citadel, the Archeological museum houses artifacts found within the citadel and other areas of Jordan. Fascinating items from across the centuries of history of the land, including various pottery, glass, carvings. Unfortunately some of the most interesting items have since been moved to the new Jordan National Museum (see above), so you’ll have to visit there to check them out.
Location: Within the Citadel
Price: Included in admission to the citadel
Hours: see citadel hours
National Museum of Fine Art
Housing contemporary art of mostly Arab artists, the National Gallery is a site for those who are really interested in art from the region. They also have various different exhibits that change throughout the year so be sure to check out the website for more details as well.
Location: Hosni Fareez St.
Hours: 9am – 7pm (5pm Winter) Closed Tuesdays – Ramadan (9am – 2pm)
Located on one end of the base of the Roman theater, the Folklore Museum houses various mannequins dressed in traditional dress of the regions of Jordan. Also included are various items from different traditional life items from previous eras of Jordan history. It’s interesting for a quick glance through, and the mosaics from Madaba and other regions are quite interesting as well.
Price: included in the admission to the Roman Theater
Hours: Same as the Roman Theater
Location: Inside Roman Theater
Museum of Popular Traditions
Located opposite of the Folklore Museum the Popular Traditions museum has includes various traditional costumes, jewelry, and customs of the historic people of the region. It is a worthwhile look into the culture of the region and the traditions that make up its history and even influence it through the present day. Some of the Bedouin jewelry and other items are among the highlights of the museum. I also found the musical instruments to be particularly interesting as well.
Price: included in admission to the Roman Theater
Hours: Same as the Roman Theater
Location: Inside Roman Theater
Royal Automobile Museum
The Royal Automobile Museum showcases various Automobiles from the Royal family across the history of Jordan. Of interest probably to folks who have a strong love of automobiles or the history or Royalty in the region. There are some really interesting classic cars here though for those who are huge automobile and motorcycle enthusiast. Good for a rainy day perhaps as well.
Price: 1 JD
Hours: 10am – 7pm
Location: King Hussein Park