Jerash and Ajloun – How to do a day trip

Jerash, known for the ruins of the ancient Greco-Roman city of Gerasa, and Ajloun, known for the 12th century castle on a hill, are perfect for a day trip from Amman. If you’re into Greek or Roman history, Jerash is one site out of Europe that you’d definitely not want to miss. Read on to find out how you can complete this day trip on your own!
After almost 2 weeks in Jordan, there were still plenty of amazing destinations waiting to be explored. Next up on my list was Jerash and Ajloun, which I decided to try to complete as a day trip from Amman, given their proximity. Some good company along the way made the journey a lot more fun.
Right from Hadrian’s Arch till the far end of the ruins I was amazed at the scale and grandeur of these millennia old structures. Never thought I’d see anything like this much like Rome till I came here. Having an understanding of the colourful history of Jerash will facilitate deeper appreciation of the ruins, and you can read more about it at the Wikipedia article here. The points of interests are spread out over a fairly large area and will take a bit of walking to cover. Here are some of them!
Right where the bus stopped us we could see the imposing Hadrian’s Arch beyond the fences of the ruins. On the other hand the entrance to the site was less obvious, We had to go further in the side road to get to a marketplace packed with souvenir shops, and brave past the touts to finally come face to face with Hadrian’s Arch! It was built in 129 AD to commemorate Emperor Hadrian (Roman Empire)’s visit to Gerasa.
Artemis was the patron goddess of the city of Gerasa, and needless to say, this was a splendid temple. 11 Corinthian columns (out of the original 12) stand spectacularly at the temple. There are parts of the temple hidden behind the altar, and for a couple of dinars the men selling coins or tea at the temple may take you there and provide some good stories. Slightly off the Cardo, not far from the North Theatre you’d also spot the West Baths, which used to be a complex of hot, warm and cold baths. Public baths were the center of social activity, and I’d imagine it’ll be lively here.
That wraps up the highlights you’ll see at Jerash/ Gerasa ruins. To get out of the fenced compounds there are a 2 options-following the Cardo back to where you came in from, or taking the exit to the main road via a side path somewhere near the gateway to the Temple of Artemis. If you’re looking for somewhere for lunch head left upon reaching the main road (from the side gate). At the traffic junction, turn uphill into Jerash city and you’d find some affordable food options just beyond the junction. My travel companions and I decided on Golden Chicken, and I got a set of fried chicken and some sides for 3JD. Not too bad I guess.
Finding the right taxi though, was a trickier issue. As with much of Jordan the dodgiest part for tourists is transport. Asking around, we were quoted between 1JD and 10JD, a difference of 1000%! Evidently, the ones pushing for higher prices were trying their luck, as they immediately dropped prices upon seeing our reaction to the ridiculous quote. In the end the 2 of us got into a private car with 2 others waiting for 1JD each (Ajloun is quite near). Upon reaching Ajloun city, the driver requested for another 1JD each to get to the castle. We were a little irked by relented anyway. I guess the point is to be ready for these tricks regardless of the form of transport you’re picking in Jordan. (I got double charged for a bus in Karak).

Chris Agar

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