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Welcome To Amman – And The Middle East


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Josey Halloran



Welcome to Amman, the bustling capital city of Jordan, and your gateway to the enchanting and diverse region of the Middle East. Nestled amidst rolling hills and boasting a rich history that dates back thousands of years, Amman effortlessly blends ancient traditions with modernity, offering visitors a unique cultural experience.


As you explore the streets of Amman, you’ll encounter a vibrant mix of old and new, from bustling markets and ancient ruins to glamorous shopping malls and high-rise buildings. The city’s warm and welcoming atmosphere is evident in its friendly locals, who are always ready to share their stories and traditions.


Amman is not just a city – it is a melting pot of cultures, where East meets West and old meets new. In this cosmopolitan city, you’ll find a rich tapestry of traditions, art, music, and cuisine, making it a truly immersive experience for travelers.


Amman is also an ideal starting point to explore the rest of the Middle East. Its central location allows for easy access to other countries in the region, such as Egypt, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia, each offering its own unique charm and attractions.


So, whether you’re a history enthusiast, a culture buff, a food lover, or simply seeking an adventure, Amman and the Middle East have something to offer for everyone. Get ready to embark on a journey that will ignite your senses, challenge your perceptions, and leave you with unforgettable memories.


History of Amman

Amman has a fascinating history that stretches back over millennia. Its origins can be traced back to the Neolithic period, with evidence of human settlement in the area as early as 7000 BCE. Throughout its history, Amman has been under the rule of several civilizations, each leaving their mark on the city.


Amman rose to prominence during the Roman Empire when it was known as Philadelphia. The city flourished as a trade hub and gained significance as a center for learning and culture. Remnants of this era can still be seen today, with landmarks such as the Roman Theatre and the Citadel, offering glimpses into Amman’s rich past.


In the centuries that followed, Amman experienced various rulers, including the Byzantines, the Umayyads, and the Abbasids. Each dynasty brought its own architectural styles and cultural influences, shaping the city’s diverse heritage. Amman continued to thrive and was an important stop along the famous Incense Route, linking Arabia with the Mediterranean region.


Amman’s modern identity began to take shape in the early 20th century when it became the capital of Transjordan under the Hashemite Kingdom. The city underwent significant development, with new neighborhoods and infrastructure being established. In the 1950s, Amman experienced a population boom due to an influx of refugees from neighboring countries.


Today, Amman stands as a testament to its rich history and an ever-evolving cityscape. The city’s architecture reflects a blend of traditional Jordanian style and modern designs. From ancient ruins and archaeological sites to contemporary buildings and urban landscapes, every step in Amman is a journey through time that reveals the city’s unique heritage.


Exploring the history of Amman is not just about visiting ancient ruins but also about immersing yourself in the cultural traditions and stories passed down through generations. From the intricate mosaics of Byzantine churches to the call to prayer echoing through the streets, the history of Amman is a tapestry woven with threads from many civilizations, making it a truly captivating destination.


Culture and Traditions

The culture and traditions of Amman and the Middle East are deeply rooted in history, religion, and a strong sense of community. This region is known for its warm hospitality, vibrant festivals, and traditional customs that have been preserved for centuries.


One of the richest cultural traditions in Amman is the Bedouin heritage. Bedouins are nomadic tribes who have inhabited the deserts of the Middle East for generations. Their customs, such as intricate weaving, music, and storytelling, still form an essential part of the region’s cultural fabric.


Religion plays a significant role in the lives of the people of Amman. Islam is the predominant religion, and visitors will often hear the melodious call to prayer emanating from the city’s many mosques. The religious festivals of Ramadan and Eid are celebrated with great enthusiasm, and visitors can witness the spirit of togetherness and generosity that characterizes these occasions.


Amman is also known for its rich artistic heritage. The city is home to numerous art galleries, museums, and cultural centers that showcase the talent and creativity of local artists. Traditional crafts such as pottery, embroidery, and carpet weaving are still practiced, preserving the age-old techniques and designs passed down through generations.


When it comes to traditional cuisine, Amman offers a delightful array of flavors and aromas. Jordanian cuisine is influenced by Levantine, Mediterranean, and Arabian flavors, resulting in a unique culinary experience. Traditional dishes such as Mansaf (a lamb dish with rice and yogurt), Falafel, and Taboon bread are not to be missed.


Social gatherings and family values are highly esteemed in Amman’s culture. Visitors may have the opportunity to partake in a traditional Jordanian feast or attend a local wedding ceremony, where music, dance, and lavish feasts are central components. The warmth and hospitality of the Jordanian people will make you feel like a part of the extended family.


Respect for local customs and etiquette is essential when visiting Amman. It is customary to dress modestly and adhere to conservative dress codes when visiting religious sites. Visitors are also encouraged to greet locals with a friendly “Marhaba” (hello) and take part in local customs with an open mind and respectful attitude.


Immersing yourself in the culture and traditions of Amman is a truly enriching experience. From engaging in lively conversations with locals at bustling markets to witnessing captivating traditional performances, every encounter will deepen your appreciation for the vibrant culture of this captivating city.


Places to Visit in Amman

Amman is a city steeped in history and offers a wealth of fascinating attractions for visitors to explore. From ancient archaeological sites to modern cultural landmarks, here are some of the must-visit places in Amman:

  • The Citadel: Perched on a hilltop, the Citadel is a historic site that offers panoramic views of Amman. Explore the fascinating ruins of the Temple of Hercules, the Umayyad Palace, and the Archaeological Museum, which houses a vast collection of artifacts.
  • Roman Theatre: Built in the 2nd century, the Roman Theatre is a magnificent amphitheater that once seated around 6,000 spectators. Take a stroll through its well-preserved ruins and imagine the performances that took place centuries ago.
  • Rainbow Street: This vibrant street is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. Its bustling atmosphere is filled with cafes, restaurants, art galleries, and boutique shops. Enjoy the lively ambiance and indulge in delicious street food.
  • Jordan Museum: Discover the rich history and cultural heritage of Jordan at the Jordan Museum. The museum showcases artifacts spanning thousands of years, including the Dead Sea Scrolls and other archaeological treasures.
  • Amman Citadel Archaeological Park: This park encompasses the Citadel and several other historical sites. Explore the Byzantine-era Church of the Martyrs, the Odeon Theatre, and the Nymphaeum fountain, each showcasing different facets of Amman’s past.
  • Jabal Al-Qalaa: Located in the heart of Amman, Jabal Al-Qalaa is an ancient hilltop fortress that offers breathtaking views of the city. Explore the ruins of the Umayyad Palace and soak in the stunning vistas of the surrounding landscape.
  • King Abdullah I Mosque: This magnificent mosque is an impressive example of modern Islamic architecture. Its distinctive blue dome and minarets dominate the city’s skyline, and visitors can admire its intricate interior design.
  • Amman Beach: Just a short drive from the city center, Amman Beach is a perfect retreat during the summer months. Relax by the pool, enjoy water activities, or unwind in the beachside cafes.

These are just a few of the countless attractions that await visitors in Amman. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a food lover, or simply seeking to immerse yourself in the local culture, Amman offers a diverse range of experiences that will leave you captivated and inspired.


Cuisine in Amman

Amman is a gastronomic delight, offering a plethora of mouthwatering dishes that showcase the rich flavors and culinary traditions of Jordan. With influences from the Levant, Mediterranean, and Arabian cuisines, the local food scene in Amman is a vibrant fusion of tastes and aromas.


One of the most iconic dishes in Jordanian cuisine is Mansaf. This traditional Bedouin dish consists of tender lamb cooked in a tangy yogurt sauce, served with fragrant rice and garnished with almonds and parsley. It is often enjoyed during special occasions and gatherings, reflecting the warm hospitality of the Jordanian people.


Another popular dish is Falafel, made from ground chickpeas or fava beans mixed with herbs and spices, then deep-fried to crispy perfection. Served in pita bread with tahini sauce and a variety of fresh vegetables, falafel is a beloved street food that can be found on almost every corner of Amman.


Middle Eastern staples such as Hummus, Tabouleh, and Baba Ganoush are also prevalent in the local cuisine. These delicious mezze dishes feature a combination of flavors from fresh herbs, tangy lemon juice, and earthy spices, making them perfect for sharing and savoring.


For meat lovers, Jordanian cuisine offers tantalizing grilled dishes like Shish Tawook (marinated chicken skewers) and Shish Kebab (marinated beef or lamb skewers). These succulent meats are typically seasoned with a unique blend of spices and served with aromatic rice and grilled vegetables.


Amman is also known for its street food culture, with food carts and stalls lining the streets. Some popular street food specialties include Shawarma, a mouthwatering wrap filled with sliced marinated meat, pickles, and garlic sauce, and Mutabbal, a smoky eggplant dip served with fresh bread.


To satisfy your sweet tooth, indulge in traditional Jordanian desserts like Kunafa, a cheesy pastry soaked in sweet syrup, or Baklava, layers of filo pastry filled with honey and nuts. These delectable treats are often enjoyed with a cup of aromatic Arabic coffee or refreshing mint tea.


When dining in Amman, you’ll find a mix of traditional Jordanian restaurants, international eateries, and trendy cafes. Whether you’re craving authentic local cuisine, international flavors, or fusion dishes, Amman’s diverse culinary scene has something to offer for every palate.


Exploring the cuisine in Amman is not just about satisfying your hunger; it is a journey through the rich cultural heritage of Jordan. With every bite, you’ll experience the flavors of the region, the traditions of the people, and the passion for good food that defines Amman’s culinary landscape.


Shopping in Amman

Amman is a shopper’s paradise, offering a wide array of shopping experiences that cater to every taste and budget. From modern shopping malls to traditional markets, the city has it all, making it a delight for both avid shoppers and those seeking unique souvenirs.


One of the most popular shopping destinations in Amman is the vibrant Al-Balad area, also known as Downtown. This bustling district is home to bustling markets, locally known as “souqs,” where you can immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and scents of Amman. Here, you’ll find everything from spices and textiles to handmade crafts and jewelry.


For those seeking a more modern shopping experience, Amman boasts several upscale shopping malls. The City Mall, Mecca Mall, and Taj Mall are among the most renowned, where you’ll find international brands, high-end shops, and a range of restaurants and entertainment options.


If you’re looking for a traditional and authentic shopping experience, head to the Souk Jara or Souk Jafra. These seasonal markets are held during the summer months and offer a variety of handicrafts, locally made products, and traditional food and beverages. It’s the perfect place to find unique souvenirs to take back home.


Amman is also known for its exquisite jewelry and gold shops. You’ll find a wide selection of beautifully crafted gold and silver jewelry, often studded with precious stones. Whether you’re looking for a statement piece or a delicate accessory, Amman’s jewelry stores offer something for every style and occasion.


Art enthusiasts will appreciate the city’s galleries, showcasing local and international artists. You can browse through contemporary paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and other unique artworks. These galleries often host exhibitions and events, offering a glimpse into the vibrant art scene of Amman.


In addition to traditional markets and modern malls, Amman is home to a wide range of specialty stores. Whether you’re looking for spices, traditional sweets, local olive oil, or unique handicrafts, the city has dedicated stores where you can find these authentic products.


When shopping in Amman, it’s important to embrace your bargaining skills, especially when shopping at local markets. Negotiating the price is a common practice, and it adds to the overall shopping experience. Don’t be afraid to engage with the friendly local vendors and soak in the vibrant atmosphere of the markets.


Whether you’re a fashion enthusiast, an art lover, or simply enjoy exploring local markets, Amman offers a diverse shopping experience that caters to all interests. With its combination of modern malls, traditional souks, and unique specialty stores, you’re sure to find something special to take home as a reminder of your time in Amman.


Safety and Security in Amman

Amman is known for being one of the safest cities in the Middle East, with a low crime rate and a welcoming environment for visitors. The Jordanian government places great emphasis on maintaining a secure and stable capital, ensuring that locals and tourists alike can enjoy their time in the city with peace of mind.


The local police force in Amman works diligently to maintain order and protect the city’s residents and visitors. They patrol the streets, tourist areas, and public transportation hubs to ensure a safe and secure environment. However, as with any city, it is always recommended to stay vigilant and take common-sense precautions to safeguard your personal belongings.


Jordan as a whole is well-prepared for various scenarios, including natural disasters and emergencies. The government has implemented robust safety protocols, and emergency services are readily available throughout the city. Tourists are encouraged to familiarize themselves with emergency contact numbers and the locations of nearby hospitals and police stations.


When exploring Amman, it is advisable to dress modestly and respect local customs and traditions. While Jordan is a relatively liberal country compared to some of its neighbors, it is still important to be mindful of cultural sensitivities, especially when visiting religious sites or interacting with locals. Dressing modestly not only shows respect but also helps you blend in with the local community.


As with any travel destination, it is recommended to stay informed about the latest travel advisories and follow any guidelines issued by your embassy or consulate. While Amman is generally safe, it’s always wise to be aware of your surroundings, avoid areas with political demonstrations or protests, and take necessary precautions when traveling alone, especially at night.


Parking, walking, and cycling in Amman can be challenging due to crowded streets and limited infrastructure. It is important to follow traffic regulations and be cautious when crossing the road. Using licensed taxis or ride-hailing services is a convenient and safe way to get around the city.


Overall, Amman prioritizes the safety and security of its residents and visitors. The city’s friendly atmosphere, coupled with robust law enforcement, creates an environment where visitors can explore with a sense of ease. By practicing basic safety measures and respecting local customs, you can enjoy an enriching and secure experience in the vibrant capital of Jordan.


Transportation in Amman

Getting around in Amman is relatively easy, thanks to a range of transportation options that cater to different preferences and budgets. From taxis to public transport, navigating the city is convenient and efficient.


Taxis are a popular mode of transportation in Amman. You can easily find yellow taxis on the streets or through ride-hailing apps. It is advisable to negotiate the fare before starting the journey or ensure the meter is used. Taxis are a convenient option for shorter distances or when you prefer a direct and personalized mode of transportation.


Public buses are a cost-effective way to get around Amman. The city has an extensive bus network that connects various neighborhoods and landmarks. Buses are color-coded according to different routes, and schedules are available at bus stops. It’s important to note that buses can get crowded, especially during peak hours.


If you prefer a more flexible and convenient option, ride-hailing services like Uber and Careem operate in Amman. These services provide a reliable and comfortable means of transportation, allowing you to travel at your convenience.


For those who enjoy the thrill of exploring a city on two wheels, cycling in Amman has become increasingly popular. The city has made efforts to promote cycling by introducing dedicated bike lanes and providing rental services. Riding a bicycle allows you to experience Amman at a leisurely pace while enjoying the scenic views.


Amman also has a well-developed network of highways and roads, making it easy to access neighboring cities and attractions. Renting a car is a convenient option for travelers who want to explore the surrounding areas at their own pace. It’s important to note that driving in Amman can be chaotic, and traffic congestion is common, especially during peak hours.


When it comes to long-distance travel, Amman is well-connected to other parts of Jordan and neighboring countries through its central location. The city’s modern Queen Alia International Airport serves as a major hub, offering flights to various domestic and international destinations.


When using any form of transportation in Amman, it’s important to plan your journeys in advance, especially during peak hours. Traffic can be heavy, particularly in the city center. If you’re unsure about directions or need assistance, locals are usually friendly and willing to help.


Amman’s transportation options provide a range of choices to suit every traveler’s needs. Whether you prefer the convenience of a taxi, the affordability of public transport, the flexibility of ride-hailing services, or the freedom of cycling, navigating the city is both accessible and convenient.


Arabic Language and Communication

Arabic is the official language of Jordan, and while many locals in Amman can speak and understand English, knowing a few basic Arabic phrases can greatly enhance your experience and interactions in the city.


Learning a few common Arabic greetings, such as saying “Marhaba” (hello) or “As-salamu alaykum” (peace be upon you), can go a long way in establishing goodwill with the local people. They appreciate the effort and will often respond warmly.


English is widely spoken, especially in tourist areas, hotels, and restaurants. However, venturing beyond these areas, knowing some basic Arabic phrases can be beneficial. Simple expressions like “shukran” (thank you), “afwan” (you’re welcome), and “salam” (goodbye) can help you navigate everyday interactions.


It’s important to note that the Arabic language has different dialects and variations across regions. The dialect spoken in Jordan is called Jordanian Arabic, which has its unique vocabulary and pronunciation. While Modern Standard Arabic is the formal written language, locals generally converse in Jordanian Arabic.


Don’t be afraid to interact with locals and practice your Arabic. Jordanians are known for their friendliness and patience. Engaging in conversations, even if it’s just a few pleasantries, can lead to memorable experiences and cultural exchanges.


When it comes to written communication, Arabic script is used in public signs, menus, and official documents. However, many signs in Amman also have English translations, making it easy for visitors to navigate the city.


In tourist areas, you may find helpful brochures and information in multiple languages, including English. If you need assistance with translation or guidance, tourist information centers and hotel concierges can provide support.


It’s always a good idea to have a translation app or a pocket-sized Arabic phrasebook on hand, especially if you plan to venture off the beaten path or engage in conversations with locals who may have limited English proficiency.


Remember that effective communication involves more than just language. Non-verbal cues, such as body language and facial expressions, play a significant role in conveying messages. Being respectful, patient, and open-minded in your interactions will help bridge any language barriers you may encounter.


Embracing the Arabic language and culture in Amman can create meaningful connections and enhance your overall experience in the city. By making an effort to learn a few Arabic phrases, you’ll not only show respect for the local culture but also open doors to deeper engagement and memorable interactions.



Amman, with its rich history, vibrant culture, and warm hospitality, offers visitors a truly unique and captivating experience in the heart of the Middle East. From exploring ancient ruins to indulging in mouthwatering cuisine and navigating bustling markets, Amman has something to offer for every traveler.


As you traverse the streets of Amman, you’ll feel the echoes of the city’s past, from the Roman ruins to the Umayyad palaces, reminding you of its glorious history. The blend of ancient traditions and modern influences creates a dynamic and cosmopolitan atmosphere that is both welcoming and intriguing.


Amman’s cultural tapestry is woven with the threads of Arabic language, traditions, and customs. Engaging with the locals, sampling traditional dishes, and immersing yourself in the vibrant souks will deepen your appreciation for the rich cultural heritage of the city and the entire Middle East region.


When it comes to exploration, Amman offers a myriad of attractions, including historic sites like the Citadel and the Roman Theatre, as well as modern shopping malls and art galleries. The city acts as a gateway to further adventures in Jordan and beyond, making it an ideal starting point for exploring the wonders of the Middle East.


Throughout your time in Amman, you can feel safe and secure, thanks to the city’s low crime rate and efficient law enforcement. The warm hospitality of the Jordanian people, combined with the city’s commitment to visitor safety, creates an environment that allows you to fully enjoy and appreciate all that Amman has to offer.


As you bid farewell to Amman, take with you the memories of its vibrant streets, the flavors of its delectable cuisine, the stories of its ancient past, and the smiles of its friendly residents. Amman is a city that leaves a lasting impression, offering a captivating blend of history, culture, and modernity that will stay with you long after your departure.


So, pack your bags, embrace the spirit of adventure, and journey to Amman – the heart of the Middle East awaits your exploration.