Jordan is one of the most spectacular countries in the Middle East, famed for its archaeological sites, stunning Jordanian art, beautiful landscapes, and delicious cuisine. It’s home to some of the most ancient cities and natural wonders in the world, so there are plenty of fascinating things to learn about Jordan. We’ve dug up 9 interesting facts about Jordan to help inspire your trip to this incredible country.
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1. There are over 100,000 archaeological sites in Jordan
One of the most interesting facts about Jordan history and culture is that it’s home to more than 100,000 archaeological and religious sites. From the iconic Rose City of Petra and the ancient Roman wonders of Jerash to the UNESCO-listed natural area of Wadi Rum, known as the Valley of the Moon, Jordan is brimming with treasures.
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2. Only 15% of Petra has been explored
As one of the oldest cities in the world and one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, the UNESCO-listed Petra is one spectacular site in Jordan. It’s up there with the most visited attractions in Jordan, yet only 15% of this ancient city’s maze of temples, facades and tombs have been explored.
The site even remained unknown to the Western world until 1812 when a Swiss explorer named Johann Ludwig Burckhardt stumbled across it. Before that, it was believed to have been the capital city of the Nabatean Kingdom from 400 B.C. to A.D. 106.
It’s also known as the Rose City because of the pretty pink colour of the stone… it’s a place you have to see to believe. But with only around 15% of the site explored by archaeologists, there’s still plenty to discover about this mysterious city.
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3. The lowest point on Earth is in Jordan
One of the most interesting facts about Jordan is that, at 420 metres below sea level, the Dead Sea here is the lowest point on Earth. But that’s not the only magical thing about this place. The water in the Dead Sea is ten times saltier than ocean water, which makes you extra buoyant so you float on top of the water.
4. Many famous movies were filmed in Jordan
From the ancient wonders to the beautiful landscapes, Jordan is a cinematographer’s paradise. That’s probably why so many iconic movies were filmed here.
Watch the famous Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and you’ll recognise the stunning Treasury at Petra. Or watch Lawrence of Arabia, The Martian, or Red Planet, and you’ll see the magical mountains, cliffs, and desert lunar landscapes of Wadi Rum.
The famous British archaeologist T.E. Lawrence (who inspired Lawrence of Arabia) once described Wadi Rum as “vast, echoing and God-like”… so you know you’re in for a treat when you follow in his footsteps here.
5. Amman is one of the oldest cities on the planet
Amman is the capital city of Jordan, but that’s not its only claim to fame. The city sits on the site of Ain Ghazal, one of the world’s largest Neolithic settlements with a history dating back to the Stone Age. The statues found at this site are some of the world’s oldest, dating back to 7500 B.C.
There’s also archaeological evidence that shows the ancient Citadel of Amman, Jabal al-Qal’a, was first settled by humans during the Early Bronze Age from 3200 – 2000 B.C. The Citadel sits on a restored Roman amphitheatre in downtown Amman. You can even see the Temple of Hercules here, a Roman religious site where you’ll see giant marble fingers believed to be the remains of a statue of Hercules.
Visit during summer and you’ll enjoy concerts held in the ancient amphitheatre, or visit at sunset to hear church bells and calls to prayer ringing out as the sun sinks below the hills.
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6. The Dead Sea is a natural spa
Cancel your next trip to the day spa and visit the Dead Sea instead! Not only can you soothe your sore muscles by floating in the salty water, but you’ll also feel very calm here as bromine, a natural sedative, evaporates from the water.
You can also cover your body in the healing Dead Sea mud. The mud that lines the banks is said to be rich in minerals that help with everything from joint pain to skin issues… at the very least, it’s sure to leave you with soft, exfoliated skin.
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7. You can walk across Jordan in 40 days
If you love to see the world on foot, you’ve got to check out the Jordan Trail. It’s around 647 kilometres and full of Jordan’s most iconic wonders from the city of Petra and Wadi Rum to the Greco-Roman ruins at Gadara. One of the most interesting facts about Jordan? This trail takes about 40 days to traverse! But it’s one of the best trails in the world.
8. Jerash is home to some of the best ancient Roman architecture outside Rome
Can’t get enough of ancient Roman architecture? Head to Jerash! One of the most interesting facts about Jordan is this ancient city was once part of the ‘Decapolis’. That means it was one of the ten most important cities on the eastern border of the Roman Empire. The ancient Roman ruins at Jerash are around 6,500 years old and include grand temples, theatres, plazas, and collonaded streets… and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time to ancient Rome.
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9. Mansaf is Jordan’s national dish
If you want to learn more about Jordanian people and culture, you’ve got to dive into the delicious cuisine. Start with a steaming plate of mansaf, where a lamb shank cooks in a fermented yoghurt broth and is seasoned with cumin and paprika. It’s then served on a bed of sherak (flatbread) and steamed rice and topped with pine nuts, chopped almonds, and yoghurt sauce.
Mansaf is a big part of Jordan’s history as it’s a traditional Bedouin meal dating back to the Mamluk period of 1200 AD. It’s often served on special occasions like birthdays, weddings and graduations. Mansaf is the ultimate comfort food and we can see why it’s the national dish of Jordan!
Do you know any interesting facts about Jordan? Let us know in the comments below!