In northern Jordan lies a captivating archaeological treasure, the ancient city of Jerash. With a history dating back to Greek and Roman times, this enchanting site is a living testament to the ingenuity and artistry of ancient civilizations.
In this article, we embark on an exploration of Jerash’s awe-inspiring ruins, immersing ourselves in the allure of its Greco-Roman architecture, from the grand temples dedicated to Artemis and Zeus to the majestic theaters that once echoed with the laughter and applause of audiences long past.
As we journey through the ancient city’s streets, we’ll marvel at the well-preserved colonnaded avenues, bustling markets, and extravagant baths complexes that once thrived in its heyday.
But the allure of Jerash extends beyond its ancient remains. We’ll also delve into the vibrant modern city that has grown around these historic sites, offering a thriving cultural scene and a harmonious blend of tradition and progress.
Moreover, we’ll uncover the rich cultural tapestry of Jerash through its renowned museums, each housing invaluable artifacts and relics that narrate the city’s story through the ages.
Join us on this captivating journey through the past and present of Jerash, where the beauty of antiquity entwines with the spirit of modernity, making it an unmissable destination for history enthusiasts and cultural seekers alike.
A brief history of Jerash
Jerash, a city steeped in antiquity, has yielded remarkable archaeological finds that trace back to the Neolithic Age. In August 2015, a momentous discovery emerged when an excavation team from the University of Jordan unearthed two human skulls dating back to the Neolithic period (7500–5500 BC).
These rare finds provided solid evidence of Jordan’s early inhabitance, complementing the ‘Ain Ghazal Neolithic settlement in Amman. Evidence of settlements from the Bronze Age (3200–1200 BC) further showcases Jerash’s historical significance.
But it is as the site of the Greek city of Gerasa, also known as Antioch on the Golden River, that Jerash shines brightest. Scholars debate its founder, with some attributing it to Alexander the Great and his general Perdiccas, while others point to Seleucid King Antioch IV or Ptolemy II of Egypt.
Jerash experienced diverse influences through the years, from the Hasmonean king Alexander Jannaeus’s rule to the short-lived Jewish reign before the Roman conquest of the area in 63 BC.
Jerash flourished in the 1st century AD under Roman protection as part of the Decapolis league. Inhabited by Syrians with a small Jewish community, Jerash remained a safe haven for Jews during the First Jewish–Roman War.
It was the birthplace of mathematician Nicomachus of Gerasa. Emperor Trajan’s reign brought prosperity, marked by economic development and the construction of the Arch of Hadrian to honor Emperor Hadrian’s visit in AD 129–130.
During the Byzantine period Jerash expanded to around 80 hectares within its walls. In AD 614, Jerash was invaded by the Persian Sassanids and later became part of the Rashidun Caliphate after the Byzantine army’s defeat at the Battle of Yarmuk in 636.
The city’s rich tapestry unfolded further with the Umayyad Caliphate, marked by flourishing trade, ceramic manufacture, and harmonious coexistence of Muslim and Christian communities. But prosperity was followed by adversity, with a devastating earthquake in CE 749 leaving Jerash in ruins.
In the 12th century, a fortress was built in Jerash by the garrison of Zahir ad-Din Toghtekin, atabeg of Damascus. Baldwin II, King of Jerusalem, captured and burned it in 1121–1122 CE. The fort’s location is likely the highest point on the city walls, in the north-eastern hills.
Small settlements persisted during the Mamluk Sultanate and Ottoman periods, particularly near the Temple of Zeus, with excavated Islamic Mamluk structures. In 1596, during the Ottoman era, Jerash was recorded in the census as Jaras, with 12 Muslim households. By 1838, Jerash was only a ruin.
Archaeological and tourist attractions of the ancient city of Jerash
Jerash, hailed as the “Pompeii of the Middle East,” boasts a wealth of attractions that make it one of the most remarkable and well-preserved sites of Greek and Roman architecture outside Italy. Its extensive excavation and continuous restoration since the 1920s have unveiled an awe-inspiring Greco-Roman legacy.
The ancient city is centered around a unique oval plaza, encompassed by an elegant Ionic colonnade. Among its grand sanctuaries are the temples dedicated to Artemis and Zeus, showcasing remarkable preservation. Jerash proudly hosts two remarkable theaters: the South Theatre and the North Theatre, which still resonate with the echoes of historic performances.
Wandering through Jerash’s streets is like a journey back in time, with the long colonnaded street (cardo) and its intersecting side streets (decumani) offering a glimpse of daily life during the Greco-Roman period. Impressive tetrapyla grace the city’s intersections, while the iconic Hadrian’s Arch stands tall as a testament to its imperial history.
The circus or hippodrome, two major communal baths complexes, a nymphaeum fed by an aqueduct, and a picturesque market called the macellum add to the city’s allure. Notably, the well-preserved trapezoidal plaza flanked by open-exedra buildings presents a charming sight for visitors.
Jerash’s city walls encompass the architectural wonders and two large bridges provide passage across the nearby river. The extramural sanctuary, with its large pools and a small theatre, transports visitors to an ancient spiritual realm.
During the early Christian period, Jerash thrived with a significant Christian community. A stunning cathedral and numerous churches adorned with exquisite mosaic floors tell stories of faith and devotion from the 4th to 7th century.
Additionally, Jerash provides insight into early technological innovations. The Visitors Centre showcases a sawmill powered by water, a marvel of the Roman world invented in the 3rd century BC. The use of a crankshaft to convert rotary motion from the mill into a linear one finds parallels in other Roman cities like Hierapolis and Ephesus.
The city’s allure extends into the Early Muslim period, where historic mosques like the Rashidun Mosque and Umayyad Mosques, along with Umayyad Houses, stand as testament to the transition and continuity of cultures over the ages.
Exploring the ancient city of Jerash is a captivating journey through time, where the marvels of antiquity coexist with a vibrant heritage of diverse cultures.
The Arch of Hadrian
The Arch of Hadrian stands as a timeless testament to the grandeur of ancient Roman architecture, gracefully adorning the landscape of Jerash. Erected in honor of Roman Emperor Hadrian’s visit to the city of Gerasa during the winter of 129–130 AD, this triple-arched gateway once soared to an impressive height of almost 22 meters, with the addition of wooden doors to accentuate its magnificence.
Distinctive for its unconventional features, the Arch of Hadrian bears possibly Nabataean influences, evidenced by its acanthus bases and column capitals placed at the bottom rather than the top.
Serving both as a commemorative structure and an approach to Gerasa, its location, set apart from the city walls, hints at ambitious plans for southward expansion, though ultimately unrealized.
In 2005, the arch underwent meticulous restoration, breathing new life into its ancient splendor. Today, it stands at approximately 21 meters in height, 37.45 meters in length, and 9.25 meters in width, captivating visitors with its architectural finesse and historical significance.
With four engaged columns on each face, standing on pedestals adorned with acanthus leaves, the arch exudes an aura of refined elegance. The lower level boasts three vaulted passageways, each flanked by Corinthian capitals, topped with niches resting on entablatures and pilasters crowned with capitals.
At its crown, an attic once held a potential dedicatory inscription, with the lower part embellished with a frieze of acanthus leaves, culminating in a triangular cornice. Among its captivating features was a marble tabula ansata panel, showcasing letters standing 12–13 centimeters tall, a testament to the meticulous craftsmanship that adorned this architectural marvel.
The hippodrome, a magnificent chariot track, stood as the grandest edifice in Jerash, a testament to the city’s vibrant cultural life. Erected during the 2nd or 3rd century AD, this colossal structure spanned an impressive 51 meters in width and stretched a staggering 241 meters in length, capable of accommodating an awe-inspiring crowd of 15,000 spectators.
The arena boasted fifteen tiers of seating, ingeniously built on arches, granting easy access through six entrances, while three additional entrances provided direct access to the arena itself. The arches housed warehouses and shops, adding to the vibrant atmosphere.
Recent archaeological studies have unveiled the remnants of stables located in the southern area of the hippodrome, shedding light on its multifaceted role in the city’s life. As the site now lies in ruins, its immense proportions hint at the significant role it played in hosting not only chariot races but also various sports competitions and entertainment spectacles that thrilled the hearts of its enthusiastic audience.
Beyond its equestrian and sporting events, the hippodrome potentially served as a resting place for caravans, offering respite and shelter for travelers traversing the region. The fascinating discoveries further unveil carved tombs in the rock surrounding the hippodrome’s walls, eloquently attesting to its continued significance during both Roman and Byzantine periods.
The Oval Forum
The Oval Forum of Jerash, situated in the southern part of the city within a natural depression, holds a significant place in the historical landscape of the ancient city. Research indicates that the earliest structures of the city were likely erected on this site, making it a site of profound archaeological importance.
Spanning ninety meters in length and eighty meters in width, the forum is connected by a wide sidewalk lined with fifty-six Ionic-style columns on either side, creating an awe-inspiring architectural spectacle.
Originally built on uneven terrain, part of the space was filled with sand to establish a stable foundation. The forum’s distinctive feature is its elliptical shape, emphasized by the use of larger stone slabs on the outer circles, paving the space.
Within the forum, shops once thrived between the columns, contributing to the economic vitality of the city. Notably, inscriptions on the eastern colonnade reveal the names of generous residents who financially supported the creation of the forum, underscoring its communal significance.
Over time, the forum evolved, with a potential monument at its center transforming into a well during the 7th century. This transformation reflects the changing social and functional aspects of the space. Water for the well was provided from a cistern located in the northern part of the city.
In more recent times, a symbolic flame burns atop a pillar at the center of the forum during the annual Jerash Festival, infusing the historical site with a modern touch. The forum’s location, relatively distant from the city center, has sparked scholarly debates.
While some view it as a site of religious significance, possibly tied to the nearby Temple of Zeus, others perceive it as an economic hub, with the heart of the city dedicated to Artemis serving as the social and spiritual center.
The Cardo Maximus
The Cardo Maximus, a grand column-lined highway, served as a defining element of urban architecture in the ancient city of Jerash. Constructed during the second half of the 1st century AD, this imposing road spanned a width of 12.3 meters in the northern part and 12.6 meters in the southern part. As the city’s primary thoroughfare, it hosted the most prominent public buildings, proudly facing the arcaded road.
Over time, the Cardo Maximus underwent expansion, and some columns saw the transition from Ionic to Corinthian capitals. Laid with large limestone slabs, traces of grooves carved by carts still bear witness to its historical significance, particularly near the southern tetrapylon. The road ingeniously incorporated a sewer system to effectively drain rainwater.
Along the Cardo Maximus, taller columns took precedence in front of significant structures, creating an awe-inspiring ambiance. The arcades provided an ideal space for shops to thrive, breathing life into the bustling urban center. Presently, approximately 500 columns line the main road, evoking a sense of its ancient grandeur.
At strategic points, the Cardo Maximus intersected with two decumani, one in the northern part and the other in the southern part of the city. At these intersections, imposing tetrapylons were erected.
The southern tetrapylon, with its majestic design, featured four wide bases adorned with niches, though only these remain today. These bases once supported columns crowned by statues, while adjacent shops thrived under the arcade.
Towards the north, the Cardo Maximus extended to the northern gate, with the northern tetrapylon standing proudly, built during the 2nd century AD. Its original form comprised four arches supporting a dome, with embellished wells adorning its foundation. The columns’ capitals retained their Ionic style beyond the northern gate, leading to a visual spectacle that captivated all who passed through.
Throughout history, the Cardo Maximus evolved, incorporating wells and monuments dedicated to nymphs, further adding to the enchantment of the ancient city. Tombstones flanked the road beyond the northern gate, immortalizing the memories of generations long past.
The Nympfaeum, a grand well dedicated to the spring nymphs, stands as a remarkable architectural marvel in the ancient city of Jerash. Its construction is estimated to have taken place during the 2nd century AD, possibly reaching completion around 190 AD. Positioned at the center of the city, this monumental well served as a popular gathering spot for the inhabitants of the Greco-Roman cities.
Spanning an impressive width of twenty meters, the Nympfaeum featured a concave-shaped wall divided horizontally into two sections. Adorned with Corinthian capitals, the columns provided a striking backdrop for the likely shell-shaped half-dome that may have once been adorned with mosaic artwork from the inside.
The Nympfaeum boasted ornate decorations, with sculptures embellishing its half-dome and a two-story wall adorned with stucco on the upper part and precious green marble on the lower part. The wall hosted seven alcoves on each level, housing statues of deities and nymphs that added an air of divine grace to the structure.
The purpose of the Nympfaeum was not merely ornamental; it had practical value as well. Water flowed into a large granite pool situated in front of the well, a feature likely added during the Byzantine period. The water then cascaded through seven lion-head-shaped openings into six smaller pools, finally culminating in the canal system created under the Cardo Maximus, the city’s main thoroughfare.
Temple of Zeus
The temple of Zeus, perched atop a sacred hill with a long history of cultic use since the Iron Age, stands as a testament to the enduring reverence this site held throughout the ages. However, its exposed location made it susceptible to the forces of nature, enduring the brunt of weather and earthquakes over time.
What we witness today is a building that underwent a series of transformations. The initial structure was a church, constructed in 22 AD, later replaced by another church in 69 AD, which was built upon the ruins of an ancient Hellenistic edifice. Eventually, in 162 AD, a new addition was made to the existing church.
A grand staircase leads visitors up to the imposing terrace, measuring forty-one meters in width and twenty-eight meters in length. The terrace once embraced a row of arched arcades that encircled its perimeter. Among the remains visible on the terrace are the remnants of the former church’s altar.
Within the cell of the church, impressive architectural elements once adorned the space. Eight colossal columns, fifteen meters tall, graced the shorter sides, while twelve stood on the longer sides. These grand columns were adorned with marble slabs on their inner surfaces, and at the back wall stood a statue of Zeus, adding a divine aura to the sacred space.
Over time, the vaulted arcade, housing the statues of Zeus and other revered objects of worship, has given way to the passage of time, with most of the church’s columns fallen and only a fraction of its walls standing tall.
Temple of Artemis
The temple of Artemis, a symbol of protection and reverence for the city, once stood majestically on a vast area measuring 161 meters in width and 121 meters in length, dating back to around 150 AD. The impressive temple was elevated on a 4.5-meter-high terrace, stretching an impressive forty-two meters wide and forty-one meters long.
The temple’s outer beauty was complemented by eleven Corinthian columns on its longer sides and six on the shorter sides, each standing tall at a height of thirteen meters and a diameter of 1.75 meters. Despite the passage of time, some of these columns remain remarkably steady, carefully crafted and assembled with a unique joint.
A vestibule, accessed by two steps, led to a grand outer row of arcades, graced with five gates that welcomed visitors into the inner courtyard. Within this sacred space, known as “temenos,” the temple’s cell stood proudly behind an altar. The sanctuary, adorned with marble, once sheltered a statue of the revered goddess, although today only the well-preserved cell bears witness to its former glory.
Evidence of the temple’s rituals and devotion lies in the remains of a sacrificial altar and pools discovered in front of the building. However, historical records suggest that the construction of the temple remained unfinished, leaving behind a poignant testament to the passage of time.
Over the centuries, the temple witnessed various transformations. In the Byzantine and Umayyad eras, it served as a pottery workshop, and later, during turbulent times, part of it was transformed into a fortress under the rule of the governor of Damascus. Ultimately, the temple met its fate at the hands of King Baldwin of Jerusalem, succumbing to destruction.
The Southern Theater
The southern theater, gracefully situated next to the Temple of Zeus, stands as a remarkable testament to Roman architecture, having been built between 90-92 AD during the reign of Emperor Domitian.
Thanks to diligent restoration efforts in 1953, this grand structure continues to serve as a venue for various events even today. Like its Roman counterparts, the southern theater boasts enclosed sides, offering an intimate and immersive experience for spectators.
The auditorium is thoughtfully divided into two sectors, accommodating an impressive three thousand five hundred people across its thirty-two rows of seats. Remarkably, some stone chairs still bear visible numbers, suggesting an early form of seat reservation to ensure a prime viewing position. The seating is carefully arranged, with city dignitaries and guests given the honor of occupying the bottom row.
Spectators would access the upper part of the theater, divided into eight sectors, from an elevation behind the theater. The architects skillfully designed the auditorium with niches carved into the base of the podium, contributing to its excellent acoustics. This acoustic brilliance allowed for captivating performances, even staging sea battles on the grand stage, with the area ingeniously flooded using waterproof partitions.
The orientation of the theater in a north-south direction reflects a thoughtful consideration to minimize the impact of sunlight on the spectators, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable experience.
The southern theater’s enduring presence stands as a testament to the craftsmanship and engineering prowess of ancient Roman architecture, and today, it continues to captivate audiences with its timeless allure.
The Northern Theater
The Northern Theater, a captivating testament to ancient ingenuity, was first inaugurated in 164 AD and underwent an expansion in the 3rd century around 222 AD, serving as a prominent venue until the 6th century.
Notably, each row of the auditorium was dedicated to a different deity, an exceptional occurrence within the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire. Furthermore, the seats were inscribed with the names of tribes, a unique custom seldom seen in other theaters of the era.
The theater’s significance extended beyond mere entertainment, as the names of esteemed citizens with voting rights in the city council were etched onto the seats of the bottom row, further reinforcing its cultural and social significance.
Originally a covered structure, the northern theater primarily functioned as a space for meetings and gatherings. Over time, it underwent expansions, with fourteen rows added in the lower part and eight rows in the upper section during the 3rd-century expansion. Access to the upper rows was facilitated by five covered corridors.
With a seating capacity of around one thousand six hundred individuals, the theater hosted a diverse range of events and performances. However, in later years, it was repurposed as a potter’s workshop, akin to the Temple of Artemis.
Unfortunately, the theater’s structural integrity suffered severe damage during a devastating earthquake in the 6th century. As a consequence, many of its columns and building elements were repurposed for the construction of Christian churches, serving as a lasting reminder of the theater’s grand legacy in shaping the architectural landscape of Jerash.
The Byzantine Churches
During the 4th and 5th centuries, Jerash witnessed a remarkable transformation as Christianity became the state religion in 324 AD, leading to the entire population embracing the new faith and the construction of Christian churches.
As one of the prominent and influential settlements of the Byzantine Empire, Jerash saw the development of several churches from the middle of the 4th century onwards. Abandoned Roman buildings were repurposed as quarries for constructing these small churches.
Excavations have revealed fourteen churches and one chapel thus far. The cathedral was among the first to be built in the 4th century, followed by two other churches in the 5th century. Eleven additional churches emerged during the 6th century, with a final one constructed in the 7th century, primarily during the reign of Emperor Justinian (527-565 AD).
The exterior of these churches displayed a simplistic appearance, with more emphasis placed on their interior decoration. The walls and floors were adorned with vibrant and intricate mosaics, showcasing a rich array of animal and plant motifs, crosses, human figures, and even depictions of Egyptian cities. Wealthy nobles of the city provided substantial financial aid for their construction.
Most of these churches featured a basilica layout, with some incorporating simple domes. Positioned near the Temple of Artemis, the churches formed a cohesive complex. Despite the earthquakes of the 7th and 8th centuries causing damage to some structures, the mosaic floors of many churches from the 6th century survived, albeit fragmented.
Among the notable churches were the Church of Saint John and the Church of Saint George, forming part of a building complex with the neighboring Church of Saint Cosmas and Damian.
The mosaic floors of these churches depicted intricate geometric shapes, animals, plants, and human figures. The Church of Bishop Genesius, built in 611 AD, marked the final Christian building in Jerash, bearing witness to the city’s remarkable Christian legacy.
The Umayyad Mosque
The Umayyad Mosque in Jerash stands as a testament to the city’s historical transition from Roman and Byzantine influences to the Islamic era. While the majority of the population remained Christian, the administration was predominantly Muslim. Over time, however, as more inhabitants embraced Islam, the need for a mosque arose.
Positioned on the left side of the road, opposite the gate building of the Artemis Church, this mosque was constructed in the 8th century during the Umayyad rule, most likely under the reign of Caliph Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik.
The mosque follows a conventional architectural design of the era, featuring a spacious central open court surrounded by porticoes on three sides. The fourth side houses a substantial hall, measuring approximately 39×14 meters, dedicated to prayers.
Interestingly, the Umayyad Mosque incorporates a unique aspect. Its mihrab, indicating the direction of prayer towards Mecca, was crafted from an earlier decorative booth, showcasing the melding of past influences within the Islamic design.
Jerash Archaeological Museum
Located atop the mound known as “Camp Hill” just east of the Cardo and overlooking the Oval Plaza, the Jerash Archaeological Museum is a small yet remarkable institution. Its commitment to preserving historical artifacts from the Jerash Governorate makes it one of Jordan’s oldest and most esteemed museums.
Established in 1928, the museum underwent relocation to a rest house in 1985. In 2018, it received several statues from excavations at the Eastern Roman Baths.
The garden features archeological inscriptions, while the exhibits provide insights into the origins and development of the city of Jerash, covering different periods of Jordan’s rich history, including the Neolithic, Mamluk, and Islamic eras.
Notably, the museum showcases a unique group of small statues identified as the Muses of the Olympic pantheon, discovered in Jerash in 2016. These Roman statues, although fragmentary, have undergone partial restoration. The museum also features a well-preserved lead sarcophagus adorned with Christian and pagan symbolism, dating back to the late 4th to 5th centuries.
Among the treasures within, the museum houses a collection of ancient pottery, statues, coins, and jewelry. Additionally, the museum proudly exhibits various sculptures, altars, and mosaics outdoors.
In essence, the Jerash Archaeological Museum stands as a testament to the city’s vibrant past, offering visitors a captivating journey through time and showcasing the region’s cultural heritage with pride and excellence.
Jerash Visitors Center
The Jerash Visitors Center is newer than the Archaeological Museum, being establishment in the early seventies. Covering an area of 1000 square meters, the center has been a pivotal location for providing essential information and guidance about the remarkable historic sites of Jerash.
In 2015, the center underwent significant rehabilitation, thanks to a fruitful collaboration with USAID. This revitalization further enhanced its capacity to serve visitors and tourists, offering them an immersive experience into the fascinating world of Jerash’s past.
Today, the Jerash Visitor Center stands as a modern archaeological museum, showcasing the site of Jerash in a thematic approach that spans the city’s evolution and development over time. Its exhibits delve into various aspects of Jerash’s rich history, shedding light on topics such as economy, technology, religion, and daily life in the ancient city.
Of particular interest are the sculptures discovered in Jerash in 2016, prominently displayed within the center. Among them, visitors can marvel at the beautifully restored statues of Zeus and Aphrodite, regaining their former grandeur.
Additionally, the center proudly presents a captivating marble head, believed to represent the Roman Empress Julia Domna, an intriguing piece of history that captivates the imagination.
With its engaging exhibits and informative displays, the Jerash Visitor Center remains a must-visit destination for those eager to immerse themselves in the rich heritage and storied past of this ancient city.
Jerash modern city
Over the past century, Jerash has experienced remarkable growth and expansion, transforming from a small settlement to a thriving modern city. Originally concentrated in the eastern part, the urban sprawl has extended in all directions due to its growing tourist significance, primarily attributed to the presence of impressive Roman ruins and its strategic location along the crucial Amman-Irbid road, a major transportation artery in Jordan.
Throughout this development, the city has diligently preserved its precious archaeological area, safeguarding it from construction activities.
The city’s rise in prominence and population during the 1980s has led to an array of enhanced services, further solidifying its importance. Today, Jerash stands as the second-most popular tourist destination in Jordan, trailing closely behind the iconic ruins of Petra.
Jerash boasts an ethnically diverse population, primarily comprising Arabs, while also hosting smaller communities of Kurds, Circassians, and Armenians. The majority of the inhabitants are Muslim, contributing to the city’s rich cultural fabric.
Throughout history, Jerash has attracted successive waves of foreign migrants. In the late 19th century, Ottoman authorities directed Circassian immigrants, mainly from a peasant background, to settle in Jerash and distributed arable land among them. These new settlers were warmly welcomed by the locals.
Additionally, the city witnessed influxes of Palestinian refugees in 1948 and 1967, who settled in camps near Souf and Al Ḩaddādah village.
As the years passed, Jerash’s population continued to grow. According to the national census of 2015, the city’s population reached 50,745, with the governorate housing a total of 237,059 individuals.
Alongside this development, Jerash embraced cultural events, hosting the annual Jerash Festival of Culture and Arts since 1981, considered one of the largest cultural events in the region.
In addition to its rich cultural offerings, Jerash’s economy thrives on commerce and tourism, with its strategic location, a mere half-hour away from major cities like Amman, Zarqa, and Irbid, making it an attractive business destination. The city’s highly educated and skilled workforce significantly contributes to Jordan’s economic landscape.
Moreover, Jerash houses two universities, namely Jerash Private University and Philadelphia University, further bolstering its educational offerings.
With its impressive growth, historical significance, and dynamic cultural scene, Jerash stands as a testament to the enduring allure of this ancient city as it continues to flourish and make its mark in the modern world.
Jerash Festival for Culture and Arts
The Jerash Festival for Culture and Arts has been a captivating celebration of artistic expression since its inception in 1981. Held in the ancient city of Jerash, Jordan, the festival spans three weeks during the summer and offers a vibrant blend of dance, music, and theatrical performances.
As a part of the Jordan Festival, which aims to enrich cultural activities in the country, this event was founded by Queen Noor to promote and preserve Jordan’s rich cultural heritage.
The festival boasts an impressive lineup of shows performed by talented artists from Jordan, other Arab nations, and even international performers. Its popularity is evident through the frequent attendance of members of the royal family of Jordan, adding to its prestige as one of the largest and most significant cultural events in the region.
What sets the Jerash Festival apart is its enchanting setting within the old city. As performances grace the different arenas, thousands of visitors wander through the ancient streets and monuments of Jerash.
They delight in shopping for traditional handicrafts like Bedouin rugs, jewelry, embroidery, glass, wood, metalwork, and ceramics. Skilled craftsmen and women showcase their talents, demonstrating the creation of their exquisite wares on the spot.
The festival is a true cultural jamboree where East and West beautifully converge, and visitors can immerse themselves in the powerful drama of artistic expression from various cultures.
One of the festival’s standout attractions is the Roman Army and Chariot Experience (RACE). Held at the historic hippodrome in Jerash, this thrilling show features forty-five legionaries donned in full Roman armor, showcasing authentic army drill and battle tactics. Additionally, ten gladiators engage in intense combat “to the death,” while several Roman chariots compete in a thrilling classical seven-lap race around the ancient track.
Through the Jerash Festival, the city of Jerash embraces its storied past while celebrating its vibrant present. The festival continues to draw audiences from across the globe, leaving an indelible mark on all who experience its rich tapestry of culture, arts, and history.