– a highlight of the Middle East
On beautiful autumn days of October we visited the holy places and local must-sees of the Hashemite Kingdom of JORDAN. The tour was a perfect combination of faith and fun.
Jordan with a population of 5.9 million (98% are Arabs) occupying an area of 91,970 sq. kms. (4/5s of the country is desert) is a constitutional monarchy governed by a king (now Abdullah II) as head of the state and government and regarded as the most powerful political and military figure in the country.
Amman, named as one of the area’s best cities according to economic, labour, environmental, and socio-cultural factors, is the capital and largest city of Jordan.
The official language is Arabic although English is widely spoken. Currency is the dinard.
Amman is conveniently located for many Jordanian tourists and most of the country’s places of interest are only about an hour away by bus or car cruising through its modern highways.
North of Amman is Jerash nestled in a quiet valley among the Gilead mountains. Jerash is considered as the best preserved Greco-Roman city in the Middle East. Seeing Jerash will transport you 2000 years back with its colonnaded streets, theatres, public squares, baths, and city walls.
We experienced Bethany-Across-the-Jordan and walked through the Baptismal Archaeological Park, the wilderness home of St. John the Baptist, where Jesus was immersed in the baptismal springs of River Jordan.
Our baptismal vows were renewed at the sacred river by our tour/director guide Msgr. Jan Majernick of Yugoslavia.
Then we visited Mount Nebo, where Moses, the Hebrew liberator who received the “Ten Commandments” stood and saw before him the Promised Land. A stone marker on this Christian holy place stands.
Located southwest of Amman is Madaba, the “City of Mosaics”. We entered the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George which houses a precious 6th century map of the Holy Land depicting its hills and valleys, villages and towns.
Deep in the Jordanian Valley, southeast of Amman, is the Dead Sea, the lowest body of water and the lowest point on earth and the world’s richest source of natural salts. Due to an extremely high content of salts and minerals which give its waters the curative and therapeutic properties and its bouyancy, the Dead Sea is devoid of life. That’s why it is called DEAD – no fish or any acquatic organism can survive in it. We swam and floated on its waters and indulged ourselves in a mineral mud treatment of our bodies.
Don’t miss a Jeep tour of the Wadi Rum, home to stunning desert beauty and the place where the movie “Lawrence of Arabia” was filmed. Known as “Valley of the Moon”, Wadi Rum (wadi in Arabic means valley and rum means high or elevated), is a valley cut into the sandstone and granite rock offering a wonderful desert scenery of unique geological rock formations.
One of “the 40 places you have to see before you die” according to the BBC is the world-famous “rose-red city half as old as time”, PETRA, a Unesco World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Petra which means “rock” in Arabic, located in the biblical land of Moab, was unkown to the western world until 1812 when a Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt rediscovered it.
We approached Petra by foot through the “Siq”, the narrow gorge made famous in the movie “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”. After trekking the narrow cleft in the rock for about a mile passing through the rock-cut tombs the Siq suddenly opens upon the most impressive of all Petra’s monuments, the famed Treasury, curved out of solid rock on the side of the mountains and standing over 40 meters (130 ft.) high.