The city of Gadara (now Umm Qais) was once a significant cultural center of the country, and today it is known as the place where Jesus miraculously healed the demon-possessed. Classical poets and philosophers lived here, including Theodore, the founder of the school of rhetoric in Rome. Check liuxers for customs and traditions of Jordan.
The city is located on a picturesque hill, which offers a wonderful view of the Jordan Valley and the Sea of Galilee. Majestic streets framed by colonnades, a vaulted terrace and the ruins of two amphitheaters have been preserved here. At one time, Gadara was one of the most important cities of the Decapolis: it minted its own coin and used the Pompeian calendar.
How to get to Gadara
It is more convenient to get to Ghadara from Amman with a connection in Irbid (journey time 1.5 hours). In addition, it is worth visiting the ruins of Jerash first, and then move further north. By car or taxi, you need to follow from the Sport City interchange to the northwest past Jordan University.
You can also go to Gadara by bus by JETT (tel.: 566-41-46), Hijazi (tel.: (06) 465-13-41, flights every 15 minutes), Trust International (tel.: (06) 581 -34-22, flight there at 8:30, back at 15:30), which follow to the city of Irbid. From where to get to Gadara is not difficult.
Treatment in Gadara
10 km north of Umm Qais are the healing hot springs of Al-Himma, which have been highly valued since ancient Roman times. There are two baths here: private and public, where procedures are carried out according to the schedule, separately for men and women.
Entertainment and attractions
The most interesting thing about Gadara is the ruins of the Roman city, including the western amphitheater, a colonnaded street and a mausoleum.
The New Testament says that Jesus Christ visited Gadara, in the vicinity of which he healed two demoniacs. He cast out demons from them, moving them into a herd of pigs, after which they rushed into Lake Tivariad and drowned. And about 4 km west of the city is a cave, which the locals call the “cave of Issa” (Jesus). According to legend, Jesus Christ stopped in this cave when he went to Gadara to liberate its people from paganism.
Archaeological Museum of Umm Qais
The museum is located in one of the houses of the Ottoman era – Beit-ar-Russan (house of al-Russan). The first hall of the museum presents ceramics dating from various eras – from the Hellenistic to the Islamic. Finds made in the tombs in Umm Qais are also exhibited here. The second hall is dedicated to sculpture, mostly from Roman times. In the courtyard of the museum you can see basalt sarcophagi, capitals, two pairs of basalt gates, mosaics and the famous statue of the seated goddess Tyche.
Karak, one of the bastions of the Crusaders, is located at an altitude of 900 meters above sea level. This city attracts many tourists with a large number of well-preserved Ottoman buildings of the 19th century. But, of course, its main attraction is the Karak Castle.
The city is built on a triangular plateau, at the narrow southern end of which the castle was built (length 220 m, width 125 m in the northern part and 40 m in the southern part).
Before entering the castle, it is worth spending five minutes studying the map hanging at the entrance. It will help you orient yourself and give useful information about the history of this place. The best-preserved halls and corridors are underground. How to get there will be prompted by the staff at the box office. When visiting the castle and its cellars, it is worth taking a flashlight – in the depths there are many tunnels and passages in which there is no lighting.
How to get to Karak
From Amman, you can get here by highway through the desert (130 km, 2 hours), along the picturesque “Royal Road” or along the highway leading to the Dead Sea. Shuttle buses run from the Al-Abdali bus station. There is no timetable: minibuses leave when they pick up passengers.
Entertainment and attractions of Karak
First of all, of course, the castle itself, its cellars and interiors. It is also worth walking along the top of the crenellated wall of the western façade and admiring the panorama that opens up. On clear days, you can see the Mount of Olives on the opposite shore of the Dead Sea from here.
The most impressive towers of Karak (“burj”) are round, decorated with the majestic emblem of Sultan Baybars, which is guarded by two lions, Burj al-Banawi; Burj-as-Saub – in fact, a whole fortress; and the massive Burj al-Zahir Baibars.
The Castle Square with 19th century Ottoman-style buildings is worth seeing.
Karak Archaeological Museum
The Karak Archaeological Museum, located inside the old castle, includes exhibits from the Moabite, Nabataean, Roman, Byzantine, Islamic and Crusader periods. There are also objects found during excavations in the place of Bab al-Zraa, famous for the burials of the Bronze Age discovered there. Museum exhibits include skeletal and pottery remains from graves at Bab al-Zraa, late Iron Age implements from Buseira, Byzantine glass vessels and inscriptions, and Roman and Nabatean implements from Rabbah and Kasr.
Opening hours: 8:00-19:00 (April-September) and 8:00-16:00 (October-March). Tel.: (03) 235-12-16. Entrance to the museum with a Karak Castle ticket.
Islamic Museum Mazar
The Islamic Museum of Mazar, located in the town of al-Mazar near Karak, contains exhibits of Islamic culture, including sculpture, ceramics and coins.
Opening hours: 8:00-15:00, Tue — day off. Tel.: (03) 237-03-19. The entrance is free.