Welcome to Amman
Originally spread over seven hills, or jabals, the capital of
the Hashemite kingdom now sprawls over 19 hills and is home to over
a million people, almost half of Jordan's population. Known as the
White City, the hills are covered in a jumble of light-coloured
stone houses, consistently box-like in shape with flat roofs
characteristic of a typical desert city. Faded minarets, pavement
markets, Arabian sweet shops and the crumbling remains of ancient
civilisations contrast wonderfully with the contemporary edifices,
fashionable boutiques and international restaurants. This blend of
the old and the new combines in the noisy and chaotic downtown area
where the city's extraordinarily friendly residents go about their
At the heart of downtown is the Ottoman-style King Hussein
Mosque, around which the buzz and bustle is at its most
interesting. Even busier at prayer times, the surrounding streets
are filled with the essence of Arabia, exotic smells and rows of
glittering treasures in the souq (market) amid the noise of
Just as overwhelming is Amman's sense of history, dating back
5,500 years to its position as the ancient capital of the
Ammonites, Rabbath-Ammon of the Old Testament, and later as
Philadelphia, the Roman city that became part of the Decapolis.
Overlooking the city from atop Jabal al-Qala'a is the Citadel, the
site of the ancient Rabbath-Ammon, and at its foot lies the
impressive Roman amphitheatre that is the most remarkable remnant
of ancient Philadelphia.
Amman is one of the oldest, continuously inhabited cities in the
world, and today functions as a thriving commercial and
administrative centre with modern facilities, historical
attractions and a longstanding tradition of hospitality. It is an
excellent base from which to explore the surrounds, even the rest
of the country, being no more than five hours drive from anywhere,
and is surprisingly agreeable for a capital city.
Information & Facts
The climate of Amman is pleasantly temperate. Summers are hot
and dry, with cool evenings, temperatures remaining at comfortable
levels. Winters are cool to cold and wet. Most rain falls between
October and March, and snow can occur.
Amman is a relatively small city and is thus easy to negotiate.
Metered private taxis are available at reasonable prices, and
yellow, shared taxis cover fixed routes. Locals are usually very
friendly and helpful regarding directions and drivers are usually
forthcoming about route information. Regular Airport Express buses
run from the arrivals terminal to Abdali Station in downtown
Arabic is the official language, but English is
understood by most people involved in the tourist industry and by
middle to upper class Jordanians.
The official currency is the Dinar (JOD), which is divided into
100 piastres or 1,000 fils. Foreign currency and travellers cheques
can be changed at any bank or moneychanger, although the latter
will usually give a better rate of exchange. Banks are closed on
Fridays. Better hotels will also exchange money. American Express,
Visa, MasterCard and Diners Club are the most widely accepted
credit cards and can be used at major hotels, restaurants and
tourist shops; cash can be withdrawn from inside banks. ATMs are
available, though acceptance of foreign cards is limited.