Chariots on the Cardo

Trip Start Sep 17, 2007
Trip End Oct 08, 2008

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Flag of Jordan  ,
Friday, July 11, 2008

Transport in Jordan is usually by 20-seat minibuses that leave when full.  We got a taxi to the bus station, which it turned out had been relocated.  So we got another taxi to the other bus station (much farther away), and sat in the empty Jerash slot hoping that something would happen.  As is usual at such times, taxi drivers took turns trying to convince us that: yes, this was the spot for buses to Jerash, but no, there wasn't going to be a bus today and, yes, they could take us in a taxi right away.  As usual, we waited for a bit wondering whether this time they were actually telling the truth.  But quite soon a bus materialized, and in that miracle of shared public transportation, was quickly filled and we set off.  It cost us a dollar for this 1.5 hour ride.  Quite a nice change after the cost of buses in Israel. 

We were dropped off at the gate and charged quite a bit of money to enter the site.  Jerash was a Roman city and a member of the Decapolis, an alliance of cities that controlled this area (Amman was also a member, and known as Philadelphia).  We entered through Hadrian's Arch and stopped to visit the hippodrome, where chariot races were revived 3 years ago.  The south gate led into the city proper.  One of the most impressive features of Jerash is the huge oval plaza, surrounded by columns.  This plaza led onto the Cardo, which was the main north-south road of a Roman city.  You could still see the grooves worn in the stones by chariots passing over 2000 years ago.  There was an intersection with the main east-west road, then a series of impressive constructions.  The huge nymphaeum (fountain) was next to the great Temple of Artemis.  This building no longer had it's roof but still had most of the huge columns that used to support it.  On the way back to the main entrance we stopped at two churches with beautiful mosaics and the 5000 seat theatre.  The site was practically empty and it was great to wander through the atmospheric ruins. 

It's strange that the Romans conquered most of the known world, but after 10 months of travelling this is the first Roman ruin I've visited...


I must note that while this entry was short, our time in Jerash was not.  Travis, a lover of ancient history (Rome, Greece, and Egypt), ran around this place like a kid in a candy store and had to stop and look meticulously at everything.  We also had to walk all the way to the end of the cardo so that  we wouldn't miss one single thing.  It is for these reasons that we manage to take good photos, because Travis is so inquisitive that nothing slides by.

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