What do the Roman Emperor Hadrian, the Prophet Moses and Lawrence of Arabia have in common? They all passed through Jordan at some point and became part of its history.
Driving through this country is amazing: from biblical sites to Crusader castles and desert fortresses, it is a historical puzzle. And when you are not walking through a biblical story, you are staring at the incredible natural scenery or admiring the beautiful view. The landscape changes every few minutes, as does the weather: it can be snowing in the capital Amman, while the Red Sea resort of Aqaba is basking in summer sun.
We arrive in Amman, a rapidly growing metropolis that was spread out over seven hills in Roman times and now over 19 hills. Rainbow Street is the hip and happening area with trendy cafés and restaurants on every corner – great for coffee or lunch, or just to wander around and soak up the atmosphere. The city has a lively downtown area centred around the Roman theatre with buzzing souks and markets.
We climb up Jebel al-Qal’a or Citadel Hill which offers views of the city. In the middle of the Citadel lies the Roman Temple of Hercules, with massive columns dramatically silhouetted against the sky.
After lounging in and around the Dead Sea for a few days we head back up to higher grounds. The road up from the Dead Sea is spectacular: from minus 400 metres we wind our way up steep gorges and narrow valleys to 1,000 metres in just 50 kilometres – a steep climb if ever I saw one!
Here we join the King’s Highway, which runs from north to south and passes through spectacular mountain scenery. In antiquity this road was a key trade route for Nabataean caravans that transported valuable merchandise between Egypt and Damascus. And so here we go again, stepping into history!