Jordan Cities: Jerash

Jordan Cities: Jerash Last updated on Tuesday 20th April 2010

Jerash is reached by a short drive (29 miles, 47km) north of Amman and is an ancient Graeco-Roman city, once known as Gerasa. It has been dubbed the 'Pompeii of the East', because of its extraordinary state of preservation. Jerash is a vast city, which flourished in the centuries immediately preceding and following the Christian era.

At the approach to the city, the visitor is greeted by the imposing triple-arched gateway, built to honour the Emperor Hadrian when he arrived there in 129A.D.

Jerash formed part of the Decapolis, a league of ten cities built by the Romans and dating from the first century BC Today, visitors may wander among the original temples, theatres, plazas, public baths and colonnaded streets complete with sculptures and fountains, all enclosed within the still-remaining city walls.

The great oval forum, once the centre of social activity within the city, is impressively well-preserved and is approached by means of the Street of Columns.

Archaeological evidence of earlier settlements has also been discovered, indicating human occupation from the Bronze and Iron Ages, the Hellenistic, Byzantine, Ummayyad and Abbasid periods. The city's 14 churches with their beautiful mosaic decoration all date from the Byzantine era.

The annual Jerash Festival of Culture and Arts is held for two weeks every summer and is an important cultural event, featuring performing artists from all over the world. This event has international recognition and is a source of great pride to the culturally-minded people of Jordan. There is also a daily sound and light show in English French, German and Arabic.

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