Jordan is a sovereign Arab state in the Middle East. The capital, Amman, is Jordan's most populous city as well as the country's economic, political and cultural centre.

A large variety of people taking photographs of something just beyond the camera, in a canyon with a rocky rear wall
Tourists photograph Al Khazneh (not visible) upon arriving in Petra. The Siq can be seen on the right.

Major tourist attractions in Jordan include UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as Petra and Umm ar-Rasas, ancient cities such as Amman, Aqaba, Madaba and Jerash, the Jordan River, the Dead Sea, Mount Nebo, and locations such as Wadi Rum and the Jordanian Highlands. Other opportunities include shopping, pop-culture tourism, medical tourism, educational and cultural tourism, hiking, snorkeling and scuba diving among the coral reefs in the Gulf of Aqaba.

In 2017, Jordan recorded more than 3.8 million tourists.[1]

Islamic sites Edit

Jordan is home to several significant Islamic sites that hold great cultural and historical importance. Here are notable Islamic sites in Jordan

King Abdullah I Mosque: Located in Amman, the King Abdullah I Mosque is a prominent landmark and a significant Islamic site in Jordan. This grand mosque, built in the early 20th century, honors King Abdullah I, the founder of modern Jordan. It features a striking blue dome and can accommodate thousands of worshippers.

Abu Darwish Mosque: Situated in Amman, the Abu Darwish Mosque is known for its unique architecture. Built in the 1960s, this mosque stands on the highest hill in Amman and offers panoramic views of the city. It has become a popular place of worship and a symbol of Islamic identity in the capital.

Al-Husseini Mosque: Located in the heart of downtown Amman, the Al-Husseini Mosque is one of the oldest and largest mosques in the city. It holds significant religious and cultural importance and serves as a focal point for Friday prayers and other Islamic religious activities.

Prophet Shuaib Mosque: Situated in the town of Wadi Musa near the ancient city of Petra, the Prophet Shuaib Mosque is believed to be the burial place of Prophet Shuaib, who is mentioned in the Quran. The mosque attracts both local worshippers and visitors exploring the archaeological wonders of Petra.

Qasr Al-Mushatta: Located about 30 kilometers southeast of Amman, Qasr Al-Mushatta is a partially restored desert palace from the Umayyad period. It is known for its intricate architectural details, including the ornate decorative panels featuring Islamic geometric patterns and motifs.

Umm Qais: Situated in the north of Jordan, Umm Qais is an ancient city that holds historical and Islamic significance. It is believed to be the hometown of the Islamic scholar and companion of the Prophet Muhammad, Umm Qais ibn Tha’labah. The city features the remains of a mosque believed to have been built by Umm Qais himself.

Ajloun Castle: Ajloun Castle, located in the Ajloun Governorate of Jordan, is a medieval Islamic fortress that offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Built by the Ayyubids in the 12th century, the castle served as a defense stronghold and is a testament to Islamic military architecture.

The Great Mosque of As-Salt: As-Salt, a historic town in Jordan, is home to the Great Mosque of As-Salt. This mosque, originally built during the Ayyubid period in the 14th century, has undergone several renovations over the centuries. It features an impressive minaret and showcases the evolution of Islamic architecture.

Prophet Hud Mosque: Located in the city of Jerash, the Prophet Hud Mosque is believed to be the burial place of the prophet Hud, who is mentioned in the Quran. The mosque holds religious significance for Muslims and attracts visitors seeking spiritual blessings.

Karak Mosque: Situated in the city of Al-Karak, the Karak Mosque is one of the oldest mosques in Jordan. It dates back to the early Islamic period and features distinctive architectural elements, including an intricately carved mihrab (prayer niche).

Mosque of the Prophet Muhammad’s Companion: Located in the town of Al-Karak, this mosque is believed to be the final resting place of Prophet Muhammad’s companion, Zaid ibn Harithah. It holds religious significance and attracts both locals and visitors seeking blessings and spiritual connection.

Maqam Al-Nabi Shu’ayb: Situated near the city of Ma’an, Maqam Al-Nabi Shu’ayb is a holy site associated with the prophet Shu’ayb. It is believed to be the burial place of Shu’ayb and is considered a site of pilgrimage and prayer for Muslims.

Aisha Um al-Mu’minin Mosque: Situated in the city of Aqaba, this mosque is dedicated to Aisha bint Abi Bakr, one of Prophet Muhammad’s wives. It is a place of worship and serves as a cultural and religious center for the local Muslim community.

Ayla Mosque: Ayla Mosque is a beautiful mosque located in the city of Aqaba. With its distinctive Ottoman-inspired architecture, the mosque stands as a prominent landmark in the area. It provides a peaceful place for prayer and reflection for residents and visitors.

Wadi Al-Seer Mosque: Wadi Al-Seer Mosque, situated in the Wadi Al-Seer area of Amman, is known for its striking green dome and minaret. The mosque serves as a gathering place for local Muslims and showcases the architectural diversity within Jordan.

Talal Bin Abdullah Mosque: Located in Irbid, the Talal Bin Abdullah Mosque is a modern mosque that bears the name of the late King Talal bin Abdullah. It is known for its grand design, featuring elegant domes and intricate calligraphy.

The Tomb of Ja’far ibn Abi Talib: Located in the town of Al-Mazar Al-Janubi, this tomb is dedicated to Ja’far ibn Abi Talib, a cousin and companion of Prophet Muhammad. It is considered a place of pilgrimage and prayer, attracting both locals and visitors.

Zarqa Mosque: Zarqa Mosque, situated in the city of Zarqa, is one of the oldest mosques in Jordan. It holds historical and cultural significance and has undergone several renovations and expansions over the years, reflecting the evolving architectural styles.

The Shrine of Prophet Job: Located in the town of Ma’in, this shrine is believed to be the burial place of Prophet Job (Ayoub in Arabic). It is considered a sacred site and is visited by Muslims who seek spiritual solace and blessings.

Main tourist destinations Edit

Al-Khazneh in Petra
Dead Sea
Wadi Rum

Ancient sites Edit

The south gate in the ancient city of Jerash
Qasr Amra a desert castle from the era of the Islamic Empire
Al-Karak castle
  • Petra in Wadi Musa, home of the Nabataeans, is a complete city carved in a mountain. The huge rocks are colorful, mostly pink, and the entrance to the ancient city is through a 1.25 km narrow gorge in the mountain—called the Siq. In the city are various structures, all (except 2) are carved into rock, including Al-Khazneh – known as the Treasury – which has been designated as one of the "New 7 Wonders of the World" by the for-profit New Open World Corporation. Other major sites of interest in Petra include the Monastery, the Roman theater, the Royal Tombs, the High Place of Sacrifice. The ruins of Petra were rediscovered by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt in 1812. It was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985.
  • Umm Qais, a town on the site of the ruined HellenisticRoman city
  • Jerash is famous for its ancient Roman architecture, with colonnaded streets, Corinthian arches, outdoor Roman theaters and the Oval Plaza.
  • Shoubak with its Crusader castle, "Crac de Montreal", marking both the eastern and southern frontier of Crusader expansion.
  • Ajloun has a medieval Crusader castle
  • Al-Karak contains an important castle from the times of Salah al-Din, known as Al-Karak Castle.
  • Umm el-Jimal, the so-called "Black Gem of the Desert", was once a town on the margins of the Decapolis. Rural and well to do, it was a fitting contrast to the surrounding busy cities. Its black basalt mansions and towers, some still standing three stories high, have long inspired poets.
  • Qusayr 'Amra, one of the best preserved Umayyad Islamic period monuments. Its interior walls and ceilings are covered with unique frescoes, and two of the rooms are paved with colourful mosaics. It, too, is a World Heritage Site.
  • Umm ar-Rasas, inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005, these ruins show a mix of Roman, Byzantine and early Muslim architecture. Among its treasures is the largest church mosaic floor in the country; newer discoveries are possible as the site has not been completely excavated.

Religious tourist sites Edit

Jerusalem on the Madaba Map

Seaside sites Edit

  • Aqaba is a town on the shore of the Gulf of Aqaba with numerous shopping centers, hotels and access to various water sports and protected coral reefs and marine life. It has the ruins of the mediaeval town of Ayla and other Edomite ruins. Aqaba also has a vibrant nightlife scene especially on holiday weekends when thousands of wealthy Jordanians visit the coastal city. Numerous raves and concerts are held by international DJ's and artists at the major resorts and beach clubs.[2] Aqaba is seeing nearly $20 billion worth of developments centered on tourism and real estate projects transforming the city into a "new Dubai".
  • The Dead Sea – It is the lowest point on earth, 402 metres (1,319 ft) below sea level,[3] and becomes 1 meter lower each year. It is the only depository of River Jordan and was part of the biblical kingdoms of Midianites and later the Moabites. The Dead Sea area is home to numerous world-class resorts such as the Kempinski, Mövenpick and Marriott. In addition, there are water parks, a public beach and international restaurants. The ultra-chic destination in the area, however, is the O-Beach which is home to cabanas, bars, international restaurants, and a beach club.

Sightseeing Edit

Ajloun Castle
  • Amman is a modern and cosmopolitan city known for its shopping centers, hotels and ruins. Amman contains numerous ancient ruins, with one dating back to 7250 BC at the ruins of 'Ain Ghazal neolithic village. Other ruins include Amman Citadel which is a hilltop in east Amman that combines many ruins left by several ancient civilizations such as; Umayyad Palace, Byzantine churches, Roman Temple of Hercules. Down that hill lies the famous large Ammani ancient Roman amphitheater along with Hashemite Plaza, Nymphaeum and the smaller Odeon amphitheater. In addition to these archaeological sites, the modern city of Amman has numerous performance spaces, parks, museums, restaurants, commercial districts, and modern cultural and historical sites of interest, such as Wasat al Balad, Al Hussein Public Parks, the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, King Abdullah Mosque, and Abu Darwish Mosque.
  • Mahis with its religious sites.
  • Wadi Rum is a desert full of mountains and hills located south of Jordan. It is popular for its sights in addition to a variety of sports that are practiced there, such as rock-climbing. It is also known for its connection to T.E. Lawrence; some scenes in Lawrence of Arabia were filmed here. In the late 2000s it was inscribed as a World Heritage Site for its natural and cultural heritage.
  • Irbid, Jordan's second largest city, is home to several museums and malls as well. However, the main reason for foreigners visiting the city is the plethora of universities that the cities host with Jordan University of Science and Technology and Yarmouk University being the two most prominent. The city hosts a large student population from all across Jordan, the Middle East and further afield. Irbid's University Street is home to the most internet cafes per mile in the world.[4]
  • Fuheis, a town about 20 minutes north-west of Amman known for its traditional 18th and 19th century churches and turn of the century provincial Jordanian architecture.
  • The number of available activities and things to do in Jordan is increasing all the time, even though the COVID-19 pandemic did slow the pace of development of new attractions.

Museums Edit

Jordan has a diverse and growing number of museums which serve Jordanian and international visitors alike. Several museums in the capital, Amman, are listed by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.[5] They include the Jordan Museum, which is a national museum focused on Jordan's archaeological and cultural heritage, the Royal Tank Museum housing over 120 tanks with a focus on Jordan's military history, and The Royal Automobile Museum and the Children's Museum Jordan which are both located in King Hussein Park in Amman. There are several art museums and institutions including Darat al Funun, the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts and the MMAG Foundation. Other smaller museums in Amman include the Jordan Archaeological Museum on the Amman Citadel, which houses many important archaeological artifacts. The Jordan Folklore Museum also known as the Jordanian Museum of Popular Traditions, is located at the Roman Theater in Amman. The Tiraz Center in Amman focuses on private collections of Palestinian, Jordanian and Arab costumes and textiles. The Museums of Archaeology and Heritage can be found at the campus of the University of Jordan, and require a prior appointment to visit. The Museum of Parliamentary Life and the Ahli Bank Numismatic Museum can also be found in Amman.

Outside of Amman, there are a number of museums focusing on art, archaeology, ethnography and natural history. Overlooking the Baqa'a Valley just north of Amman is the Sami Hindiyeh Art Gallery (opened 2017) with its extensive modern art collection from across the Arab world. In the historic city of as-Salt, there is the Abu Jaber Museum, which focuses on late Ottoman and early 20th century history and traditions, as well as an historic house containing the as-Salt Archaeological Museum. There are numerous agritourism developments in the verdant north of Jordan near Salt, such as the ones in and around the archaeologically rich village of Gilead, namely the Mountain Breeze Resort and those affiliated with BookAgri, which aims to encourage the local farmers to showcase their traditional way of life to visitors. In Madaba, south of Amman, there is the Madaba Archaeological Museum, an Interpretive Center at St. George's Church, home of the Madaba Map, as well as a small museum at nearby Mount Nebo. The Dead Sea Panorama Complex contains an informative museum focusing on the natural history and geology of the Dead Sea. Nearby in Ghor es-Safi is the Lowest Point on Earth Museum, which displays important archaeological discoveries from this region of the South Jordan Valley. The Petra Museum (opened 2019), is located at the entrance of the World Heritage Site of Petra and presents around 300 objects from the Petra region, ranging from prehistory to the present day.[6]

There are several smaller regional or site museums focused on archaeology found across Jordan including the Dar as-Saraya Museum, Irbid, the Museum of Jordanian Heritage at Yarmouk University, also in Irbid, the Karak Archaeological Museum, Karak, the Jerash Archaeological Museum and Jerash Visitor Center, as well as museums at Umm Qais, Aqaba, and Qasr al-Hallabat.

Nightlife Edit

Jordan, most specifically Amman and to a lesser extent Aqaba, has emerged as one of the region's hotspots for nightlife. Alongside Ramallah, Haifa, Dubai, Beirut, Sharm el Sheikh, and Manama, Amman is a premier clubbing destination in the Arab World and the Middle East.[7] The country has seen an explosion in nightlife options ranging from high end nightclubs and bars in the capital city to world-class raves at the Dead Sea and Wadi Rum. Aqaba too has seen a proliferation in nightclubs and beach clubs as a result of the massive of foreign investment and influx of foreign labor and tourists due to the establishment of the special economic zone, ASEZA. Distant Heat held annually in Wadi Rum is considered one of the world's top raves.

Natural reserves Edit

Jordan has a number of natural reserves.

  • Azraq Wetland Reserve – Azraq is a unique wetland oasis located in the heart of the semi-arid Jordanian eastern desert, managed by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN). Its attractions include several natural and ancient built pools, a seasonally flooded marshland, and a large mudflat known as Qa'a Al-Azraq. A wide variety of birds stop at the reserve each year for a rest during their arduous migration routes between Asia and Africa. Some stay for the winter or breed within the protected areas of the wetland.
  • Dana Biosphere Reserve – covers 308 square kilometres, composed of a chain of valleys and mountains which extend from the top of the Jordan Rift Valley down to the desert lowlands of Wadi Araba. Dana is home to about 600 species of plants, 37 species of mammals and 190 species of birds.
  • Mujib Nature Reserve – the lowest nature reserve in the world, with a spectacular array of scenery near the east coast of the Dead Sea. The reserve is located within the deep Wadi Mujib gorge, which enters the Dead Sea at 410 metres below sea level. The Reserve extends to the Kerak and Madaba mountains to the north and south, reaching 899 metres above sea level in some places. Wadi Mujib enjoys a magnificent bio-diversity that is still being explored and documented today. Over 300 species of plants, 10 species of carnivores and numerous species of permanent and migratory birds have been recorded.
  • Shaumari Wildlife Reserve – The Shaumari Reserve was created in 1975 by the RSCN as a breeding centre for endangered or locally extinct wildlife. Today, following breeding programmes with some of the world's leading wildlife parks and zoos, this small, 22-square-kilometre reserve is a thriving protected environment for some of the most rare species in the Middle East, as Arabian oryx, ostriches, gazelles and onagers, which are depicted on many 6th century Byzantine mosaics.
Dana Biosphere Reserve in south-central Jordan

Visitor statistics Edit

Most visitors arriving to Jordan were from the following countries of nationality:[8][9]

Country 2016 2015 2014
  Saudi Arabia   756,989   883,884 1,057,604
  Palestine   693,454   611,601 542,059
  Egypt   244,418   258,366 249,561
  United States   166,441   161,013 160,766
  Iraq   142,044   158,364 224,596
  Israel   141,881   154,316 176,032
  Syria   136,973   193,966 421,166
  Kuwait   89,994   92,343 91,069
  United Kingdom   64,766   60,820 73,702
  India   57,720   49,755 54,129
  Germany   57,497   47,951 56,323
  Yemen   57,333   71,895 67,071
Total   4,778,529   4,809,274 5,326,501

Investment Edit

King Hussein Mosque in Amman
Tourist police kiosk at Petra

Jordan is investing heavily in its tourist infrastructure in the form of luxury hotels, spas, resorts, and massive real estate projects, as The "Abdali Urban Regeneration" Project and the "Marsa Zayed" in Aqaba. Luxury residential housing like Sanaya Amman and the Living Wall are attracting affluent Persian Gulf vacationers to buy property in Jordan.

Queen Alia International Airport is being expanded to handle 9 million passengers annually in the first phase; 12 million in the second phase.

Tourism Development Currently USAID is an active partner in the development of the tourism industry in Jordan with the continued support of the Jordan Tourism Development Project (Siyaha), currently in its second project lifecycle.

Duration: 2005–2008
Funding: $17,424,283 (estimated)[10]
Implementing Partner: Chemonics International
Duration: 2008–2013
Funding: $28 million[11]
Implementing Partner: Chemonics International

With the establishment of the Aqaba Special Economic Zone, nearly twenty billion dollars have been invested in Jordan's sole coastal city. Luxurious resorts such as Saraya Aqaba and Tala Bay are being constructed with more in the pipeline like the $1 billion Ayla Oasis.[12] With Jordan becoming increasing popular as a cruising destination, a new and modern cruise ship terminal is being constructed in the Marsa Zayed project.

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. ^[bare URL PDF]
  2. ^ Kaufman, David (2006-12-03). "In Aqaba, Jordan, Sun and Sand in the Red Sea". The New York Times.
  3. ^ The Dead Sea Archived 2018-07-14 at the Wayback Machine, NPR
  4. ^ "Jerish and the North: Irbid", Rough guide to Jordan, Matthew Teller, Rough Guides Ltd., Penguin Putnam, London, 2002, p.176-180, ISBN 1-85828-740-5
  5. ^ "Welcome to Jordan Tourism Board > Where to go > Amman > Museums". Retrieved 2019-10-07.
  6. ^ "The Petra Museum: A New Approach to Archaeological Heritage in Jordan". American Journal of Archaeology. 2020-04-01. Retrieved 2020-06-13.
  7. ^ Clubbing In The Middle East | Archived 2012-04-05 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2018-09-29. Retrieved 2016-04-30.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2018-04-13. Retrieved 2017-10-14.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ Jordan | U.S. Agency for International Development Archived 2011-10-07 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "Overview | Siyaha". Archived from the original on 2011-08-10. Retrieved 2011-04-24.
  12. ^ "ayla". Archived from the original on 2011-02-26. Retrieved 2011-04-25.

External links Edit