As far as Middle Eastern cities go, Amman is quite young. While it did serve as an important trade center under the name Philadelphia during the Hellenistic period, Amman was all but forgotten under Islamic rule. It wasn’t until the last century that the city made a name for itself as a cultural center.
In the 1920s, Amman was named the capital of Jordan, and in the 1940s and 1960s, it became a safe haven for Iraqi, Palestinian and Syrian refugees.
Today, the convergence of varied Middle Eastern cultures creates a diversity of thought, architecture, music, art and food that’s a unique find in the region.
The tolerance and grittiness of Amman have made it an oasis of both modernism and traditionalism.
To the west is modern Amman. With its elegant villas, ritzy hotels and steel high-rises, the neighborhood is determined to imitate the luxury of Dubai. But to the east, centered around downtown, is Amman’s crowning joy: the pulsating heart of the old city.
Here, winding neighborhoods of white, and box homes hug the rolling hills.
And make for breathtaking views of the city below.
Quirky street art and vibrant markets remind wanderers of the deep culture engrained in this architectural labyrinth.
But no Middle Eastern city would be complete without a nod to the past, and despite its youth, Amman proudly embraces its rich history.
Visitors can walk through remnants of Biblical and Roman times while searching for the scars of its fall under the Ottomans.
So, on your next trip to Amman, postpone your bus to Petra and stay for a while. Walk the souqs, sip some Arabian coffee and breathe in the city whose storied past, shining culture and tolerant people make it a diamond in the rough.