Answers to all the questions you may have
One of the hardest things to do when visiting a new country is to know where to start exploring. You’d want to start somewhere central and easy to get to since the place is all new to you. In Amman, that starting point is nothing other than the Amman Citadel.
Read on to
Views from the Citadel
When thinking of where you should start for a tour of Amman, the Citadel is the perfect starting point. Situated on the top of a hill (Jabal Al Qala’a) in the middle of downtown Amman, the Citadel has a beautiful 360-degree view of Amman, 850 meters above sea level. As well as the beautiful views, you can bask in various architectural remains as it is an excavation site for many different civilizations that once inhabited the area.
Best time to go
Although the Citadel opens from 8 am until 7 pm on Saturdays to Thursdays between April and September and until 4 pm between October and March. The Citadel is only open from 10 am until 4 pm on Fridays throughout the year.
The best time to go, in my humble opinion, would be a little bit before sunset (which is when they close). The golden hour definitely gives the Citadel and the view of Amman an extra little bedazzle for you to gaze your eyes upon (and take a couple of snaps to make your friends and family back home just a little jealous they’re not with you).
Entrance to the Citadel is 2 Jordanian Dinars per person or free for holders of the Jordan Pass.
Tip: Although the site officially closes at 7 pm (or 4 pm in winter), ticket sales and entry stops an hour before, so make sure to get there with plenty of time to explore.
History of the Amman Citadel
As an excavation point of many different historical eras, the Amman Citadel boasts a wide range of history to “dig into” if you’re a history buff. Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans, as well as Umayyad and Ayyubid dynasties all, left a mark atop this hill.
Imagine walking around were these great civilizations once were? Signs of human inhabitants can be dated back to 1550 – 1650 BC (The Middle Bronze Age). History enthusiasts can take a look back in time by walking around the 3 major sites which are: The Roman Hercules Temple, The Umayyad Palace, and The Byzantine Church. As well as what can be said as an “open-air museum”, the Citadel hosts an “indoor museum” – The Jordan Archaeological Museum, which is open to visitors of the Citadel and entrance is included in the ticket price. The museum has excavated pieces from the Citadel itself, as well as jewels and statues.
It’s also good to know that a large area of the area has yet to be excavated so think of all the things you don’t even know you’re walking around/on. The hilltop is surrounded by a 1,700-meter-long wall which had been rebuilt many times during the Bronze and Iron Ages.
The most famous site at the Citadel has got to be Hercules Temple. As well as the few structures that remain from the temple, the must-see object has got to be the giant hand which is believed to be the remains of a huge statue of Hercules. Just looking at the size of the hand makes you wonder just how big the actual statue was! Experts guess that the statue would have measured upwards of 40ft high. It’s a shame all that remains is the hand as the statue if it was still standing, would have been amongst the largest marble statues to have ever existed. Isn’t that something?
Do I need a guide?
If you aren’t too interested in the history of the Citadel, then you can skip the guide. However, if you are interested to know more about the history, then a guide would come in handy. Having a guide with you from a reputable tour company would come in handy and they will be sure to show you everything worth seeing at the Citadel and the rest of Amman.
Not into history? Still worth the visit
The Citadel is definitely worth the visit even if you aren’t into history. The location has a cute little café/supermarket where you can sit down, relax, and enjoy the view of Amman as well as the unique atmosphere it brings with it; from the mix of tourists and locals to tourists basking in the history and kids playing football or flying their kites. If the beautiful view of Amman wasn’t enough to motivate you to go, it is also located just a short distance (downhill – if you needed extra motivation) from the Roman Amphitheatre (another place worth visiting) and the Husseini Mosque (also worth a visit).
You could also take a picnic along with you to enjoy while sitting amongst the ruins, basking in the sun, and enjoying the view and fresh mountain breeze.
Why there are kids playing football at an archaeological site?
This may be an odd sight to see at an archaeological site, but you may come across a bunch of kids playing football among the ruins. Although a rare sight to see in other countries, this site is not so rare in Jordan as Jordanians love children and like to see them having fun in a relatively safe environment. It’s quite nice to see such a historical place filled with life (and balls).
How to get there?
If you take my recommendation and use it as your starting point, then the best (and easiest) way to get there would be to take a taxi from downtown Amman (which will cost you around 1 Jordanian Dinar) taking the only road which lease to the Citadel – Al Malek Ali Bin Al Hussein Street.
This will avoid the uphill trek you would otherwise have to make and will save you energy for your walk down when you’re done basking in the beautiful views and archeological remains at the top.
To walk down from the Citadel to downtown Amman, you will find the steps going down east of the Citadel. The steps take you down right opposite the Roman Amphitheatre.
How much time do I need?
Depending on how “in-depth” you want to get, your time spent at the Citadel will vary.
If you just want to walk around browsing the ruins and enjoying the views, then an hour should be enough. If like mentioned before, you’d like to dig into history, then you should estimate spending no less than an hour and a half to two hours. That would give you enough time to indulge in history as well as beautiful views.
What to wear?
Amman is still considered a rather conservative place so try avoiding really short shorts, tank tops, or anything that may be considered too revealing. Although it may seem odd, actually wearing loose pants would be cooler and more comfortable for you than shorts as, in the summer, the temperature can get quite hot and shorts aren’t always the best option for staying cool.
Being respectful towards the Jordanian culture is always advised. Covering your shoulders and arms and wearing anything that goes below the knee when visiting certain touristic spots is recommended.
More importantly, you should keep in mind that you would be doing quite a bit of walking, so wearing trainers or sturdy shoes is highly recommended over flip-flops or flimsy sandals. Taking a hat or a scarf to cover your head if it gets too hot is also recommended.
Where can I book a tour of Amman including the Citadel?
Amman has many ‘must-see’ spots to visit; the Citadel is just one of many. If you would like to check out Amman as a whole, you can browse the many different tour options we offer on our website including a tour of the Citadel and downtown Amman, Multiday tours, One day tours of Amman, and many more.
The Amman Citadel should be at the top of every Amman itinerary. It is a significant archaeological site located in the downtown area which is very each to reach.