Jordan is home to a fascinating array of historical treasures having played host to many ancient civilisations including the Nabataeans, Persians and Romans. Few sites in the world can rival the magnificence of the ancient city of Petra. Cut into the sandstone mountain rocks in the governorate of Ma’an, southern Jordan, Petra is famous for its jaw-dropping grandeur and archaeological importance. The rich history of Jordan will further be explored in visits to the enchanting Wadi Rum, the Greco-Roman ruins of Jerash, and the cultural centre and national capital, Amman.
Amman, the capital of Jordan, is one of the great cultural centres of the Middle East and there is much here to interest the visitor. It is also a city of surprises and many of these are to be found in the area known as the Citadel. Sitting on the highest hill in Amman, Jebel al-Qala’a (about 850m above sea level), the Citadel is the site of the ancient Ammonite capital of Rabbath-Ammon. Artefacts dating from the Bronze Age show that the hill was a fortress and/or agora (open space for commerce and politics) for thousands of years. The complex is surrounded by 1700m-long walls, which were rebuilt many times during the Bronze and Iron Ages, as well as the Roman, Byzantine and Umayyad periods.
Here you will visit the Archaeological Museum – a small museum housing an excellent collection of antiquities ranging from prehistoric times to the 15th century – the Folkloric Museum, the remains of the Roman Temple of Hercules, the Byzantine basilica and the gate to Umayyad Palace. Also, see the Roman theatre which was built during the reign of Antonius Pius (138-161AD) and can accommodate 6,000 spectators. Afterwards there will be a short tour of modern Amman.
One of the great moments in travel is when you emerge from the narrow winding Siq to encounter the extraordinary rose-red city of Petra. This guided tour is entirely on foot so you can more intimately interact with this UNESCO World Heritage Site, chosen as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
Together with your guide, start your walk from the main gate to the obelisk tombs. Then continue to the Siq, the sole entrance to Petra, a long winding path between two overhanging cliffs that acts as the city's main gate.
As you proceed along this mile-long fissure, your guide will point out such details as Petra's ingenious water system where some of the original terracotta pipes are still in place. Your first sight will be the magnificent spectacle of Al Khazneh (The Treasury), carved out of the rock by Nabatean Arabs some 2,000 years ago. You may continue along the Street of Façades taking in such sights as the amphitheater and the Royal Court, where recent excavations have revealed a public pool and gardens.
The guides will take you to the Treasury area and from this point you will have the option of continuing on to the Street of Façades. Please note that there is an optional, one-way horse ride included in your ticket. Horse drawn carriages are available at the site entrance but passengers should be reminded that these are not recommended and are at the passenger’s own risk.
Sometimes referred to as “the Valley of the Moon”, Wadi Rum is one of the most enchanting deserts in the world and will engulf you with its enigmatic lure. Surrounded by steep cliffs, narrow canyons and dramatic scenery, the Wadi has been inhabited by many cultures, including the Nabateans, since pre-historic times.
Still, Wadi Rum is perhaps best known to Westerners as the staging ground for Lawrence of Arabia’s attack on the port of Aqaba.
Our tour begins with an hour’s drive to the heart of the valley where you’ll transfer to Bedouin-driven jeeps for a two-hour desert tour including a visit to Khaz Ali canyon with its petroglyphs and the spring where legend has it that T.E. Lawrence washed; the Seven Pillars of Wisdom Mountain – this stunning formation is what T.E. Lawrence titled his philosophical memoir after; the Desert Jebels and Inscriptions – the awe-inspiring Jebels are amazing to look at, the sandstone rock formations rise from the Wadi floor all around.
Some even bear ancient inscriptions and rock art. After your tour you will continue on to Petra and check in to your hotel.
Please note that the desert safari takes place using various different models of Bedouin-driven jeeps. Some jeeps may be more difficult to climb into than others and are not suitable for passengers with mobility limitations.
This optional excursion can be booked using the signup sheet and paid for on-board the ship (all prices for purchases on-board Aegean Odyssey are listed in US dollars).