We have had several surprises on our journey through the Middle East and this was one
. Our tour book does not give much detail about Jerash so we did not expect to see much more than Hadrian's Arch and the Hippodrome. Oh, my gosh, this was a bustling city with temples to Roman goddesses, Byzantine churches, a large market area, and much more. Jerash is the hometown of our guide, Samir, so he was very proud to tell us it's heritage. This was also the first time we met Samir's wife, Jamiliah, who is a tour guide for another company. This was the day we saw a Jordanian military presence as two helicopters flew overhead. We were less than 50 miles from Damascus. We have never felt unsafe. We will probably be in more danger when we spend a few days in NYC.
Known as Gerasa in ancient times, Jerash is one of the best preserved and most original Roman cities in the Middle East. Jerash prospered from its position on the incense and spice trade route from the Arabian Peninsula to Syria and the Mediterranean. Speaking of incense -- while in Petra I purchased a small amount of Frankincense and Myrrh. It was not cheap which is one of the reasons it was presented as gifts to Jesus from the Magi -- incense fit for a king! AJLUN
The market town of Ajlun is dominated by the fortress Qalat ar-Rabad, built in 1184-85 as a response to Crusader invasions
. It was later used by the Ottomans until the 18th century.
One of the surprise treats of the day was a visit to an olive factory and the opportunity to taste freshly squeezed olive oil. Making it extra special is knowing Samir owns a small olive farm.
Now that I have Amy's help with blogging and we have reliable internet, I need to get caught up and finish our Jordan adventure. Tonight is about Jerash & Ajlun, two cities we visited while staying in Amman. Both Tom and I are losing track of the days of the week and the date, so I am having to refer to our itinerary. Today is Friday -- the Sabbath -- and we visited these two cities last Sunday.