Ever since the establishment of the Kingdom of Jordan in 1946, Amman has been the political and cultural capital of the nation. Once home to ancient civilisations including the Romans and the Byzantines, today the city hums with life. So why don’t you give this artistic Middle East hub a couple of days? Here are the top things to see and do in Amman, Jordan.
Roll up for delicious organic food and views of Amman old city, as well as the Citadel, at Jordan Center: a cafe/restaurant/education center owned by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature. Money raised goes to help sustain local rural communities including Mujib Nature, Dibeen Forest, Ajloun Forest, Shaumari Wildlife, Dana Biosphere, Azraq Wetland, Fifa and Yarmouk. While you’re here, snap up beautiful handmade items from the Nature Shop – you’ll generate income for hard-up families and the wares make great gifts.
Jordanians like their tea and their art, so the peaceful hideaway of Fann Wa Chai cafe in the hip, bohemian Jabal Al Weibdeh district is naturally a popular hangout. Cleverly combining the two, visitors can expect to be serenaded with classical music as they study the art-lined walls, or sit and sip on the wide range of teas served in delightfully quaint china teacups. If you’re hungry, peruse the small but perfectly formed menu – they do generously filled sandwiches and plenty of sweet treats.
Now a local institution, the Fann Wa Chai gallery burst onto the art scene in 1988, with the intention to support the arts and artists of Jordan and the Arab world. More than three decades on, it has evolved into an oasis for the art world, overlooking the bustling downtown area of the old city of Amman. This hub is an epicentre for culture and the impressive architecture makes a fine backdrop for exhibitions of paintings, while the gardens are open to all.
Amman Citadel dates back to the Bronze Age; over the course of a near-4,000-year history, it’s been occupied by the Byzantines, Persians, Romans and Greeks. This makes it the cultural heart of the city: a rich convergence of architectural wonders. The most iconic fixture is the ruined Temple of Hercules, built during the reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius (161-180 CE); the giant stone hand there is a reminder of Ancient Rome’s pristine craftsmanship. Also visit Umayyad Palace – an eighth-century royal complex with a restored, domed entrance chamber – and the Jordan Archaeological Museum, which houses 6,000-year-old statues and one of the legendary Dead Sea Scrolls.