Amman is a city with split personalities. In Eastern Amman, conservative and Islamic ideals rule over locals living just steps away from Palestinian refugee camps, while Western Amman seems like an entirely different world with its trendy cafes, eclectic art galleries, leafy residential districts and world-class restaurants. The Jordanian capital's true character can only be understood by visiting both areas.
New York's Fifth Avenue and Paris' Champs Elysees may be more famous than Amman's Rainbow Street, but the street is no less glamorous. The mile-long cobbled strip stretches through the colorful and multi-ethnic cosmopolitan hub of Jabal Amman. There, visitors can enjoy the country's most exclusive and exciting boutiques, night clubs, coffee shops and restaurants. The side streets of the blossoming neighborhood are home to a number of cultural institutions, including the Royal Film Commission and the environmental agency Wild Jordan. This is where urban cool combines with a spirit of Arab pride.
Start your exploration of the area at the First Circle roundabout, where American fast food joints compete with locally-owned shops and neon lights shine day and night. Skip the Western imports and instead visit one of the local cafes for a thirst-quenching iced jasmine tea or strong coffee. Get your drink to go, then hike to the top of Rainbow Street for one of the best panoramic views of the city.
On Fridays, the street is taken over by the Souk Jara market. Local craftsmen and artists sell their latest jewelry, wood carvings and paintings from the makeshift stalls, and the street takes on an almost carnival-like vibe.
In the middle of this modern neighborhood lies the Roman Forum, a relic of Jordan's long history. Built in AD 190, the plaza was one of Imperial Rome's largest public squares. Today, a row of columns is all that remains, but it is still well worth a visit to walk among the ruins.
Eastern Amman has its own treasures, and the most impressive is the Roman Citadel. The ancient pillars, staircases and arches that remain at the site are proof of the capital's claim as one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world. The nearby honeycomb-colored Temple of Hercules was built under Marcus Aurelius in AD 162 and provides visitors with another outstanding view of the city.
The northern part of Citadel Hill is dominated by the Umayyad Palace, built in the early-8th century. Visitors are greeted by an foreboding domed entrance hall decorated with dazzling geometric patterns before walking through a large plaza that was once the center of the administrative quarter. Nine separate residential buildings surround the plaza, and a colonnaded street stretching from the center takes visitors to the ruler of Amman's decadent private residential quarters.
Once the sun sets over the sandstone skyline, head back to Rainbow Street, home to the country's first gastropub and the city's best happy hours. An easy-going mix of locals, tourists and expats inundate the district at night, creating a friendly atmosphere and plenty of opportunities to people-watch from outdoor bars and cafes.
Amman Geographical Location
Amman is located towards the northwestern corner of Jordan and is its largest city.
The metropolitan area is populated with 2,125,000 people.
Arabic is the official language of Jordon with English being a common second language among educated individuals.
Amman Predominant Religion
92% Sunni Muslim
Sunni Muslim is the official religion of Jordon while the majority of Christians are Greek Orthodox.
The Jordanian Dinar is the official currency of Jordan.
Due to Amman’s inland location and high elevation it experiences warm to hot summers with little or no rain and cold winters that are accompanied by snow and sleet.
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