Amman is the capital of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the administrative centre of the province of the same name. The country’s largest city, Amman has a population of nearly 1.5 million and lies in a valley, some 750 metres above sea level, while the average altitude of the seven highest hills on which it is situated is 918 metres. The modern city was founded 100 years ago, on the banks of the rivers that flow at the foot of the hills in this mountainous region. As the old city grew in size, its inhabitants began to build new houses on high ground in the surrounding area, with the city now extending over 20 separate hills.
As well as the administrative capital of Jordan, Amman is also its main economic, business and educational centre. Thanks to its strategic geographical location and modern architecture, it is home to a number of Arab communities. Tourists from Europe, North America, Japan, Australia and the rest of the Arab world flock to Amman throughout the year to see its many sights, while others travel to the city to use its advanced care services. Its location has also made it Jordan’s main economic hub, with the city attracting some 90 per cent of the investments made in the country.
Amman’s history dates back to the seventh millennium BC, making it one of the oldest populated cities in the world. Built on the ruins of an ancient city known initially as Rabbath Ammon and then as Philadelphia, Amman owes its name to the Ammonites, who made it their capital. Situated in the centre of the metropolitan area, the city was founded on seven hills and was for many years the capital of the Emirate of TransJordan, which in 1946 became the independent nation of Jordan.
Most of Amman’s districts are blessed with a temperate Mediterranean climate, especially those in the highest areas. Temperatures reach their peak in mid-August, regularly exceeding 30ºC, and are at their lowest in January, with snowfalls not uncommon on the high ground.
Places to visit
The summer months see a significant rise in tourism, with the city and its temperate climate attracting tens of thousands of visitors each year. The nearby Queen Alia International Airport handles international arrivals and is an obligatory transit point for reaching the southern city of Aqaba. Jordan extends a very warm welcome to visitors from overseas and offers them a large number of tourist destinations, among them the Roman amphitheatre in the heart of the metropolitan area. The bases of one of its columns bears an inscription in Greek, a reminder that it was built in honour of the Emperor Hadrian, who visited the city in 130 AD.
Next to the amphitheatre can be found the forum, and together they cover an area of 7,600 square metres. The construction of the latter probably dates to the 2nd century AD, between 138 and 161, when Antoninus Pious ruled the Roman Empire. Offering excellent acoustics, the amphitheatre is now used to stage plays and concerts.
Nearby sits the Citadel, one of the original seven hills of the city of Amman and an excellent vantage point with an atmosphere of its own.
Prior to the Islamic conquest of the 7th century AD, the Ammonites, the Greeks, the Romans and the Byzantines made the city the seat of their empires. The Citadel bears witness to this rich history and is still home to Roman monuments, Corinthian columns, the Temple of Hercules, and Islamic monuments dating to the Umayyad period.
Built in 1951, the Jordan Archaeological Museum is also situated here. A wide number of artifacts uncovered at digs conducted throughout Jordan are housed at the museum and are displayed chronologically, from the Palaeolithic Era through to the period of Islamic rule. The museum’s exhibitions comprise pottery, glasswork, metalwork and plasterwork as well as statues in clay and stone, inscriptions, scrolls, seals and stamps and jewellery in gold and silver, all from various historical periods.
Visitors to Amman will not have any problems in finding a wide range of international restaurants to choose from, with Arab, Italian, French, Turkish, Chinese and Indian cuisine all on offer, as well as fast food outlets. The city also boasts a number of attractive shopping centres, complete with a wide variety of stores and recreational areas for children.
Amman has a lot going for it when it comes to football. Some of Jordan’s leading clubs are based in the city, chief among them Al-Faisaly, one of the oldest in the kingdom and its most successful club in terms of league titles. Al-Faisaly have also taken part in a number of continental competitions, winning the AFC Cup on two occasions, and have more Arab Champions League appearances to their name than any other Jordanian side, allowing them to extend their fanbase outside the country’s borders. City rivals Al-Wehdat are another of Jordan’s most popular clubs and have also won several league championships. Meetings between the two sides are the most eagerly awaited in Jordanian football.
The country’s biggest stadiums can be found in Amman, among them Amman International Stadium, situated at the Al-Hussein Sports City, which was built in the 1960s. The stadium has hosted a number of tournaments and big matches and will be refurbished ahead of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, bringing it into line with the latest international standards. Following refurbishment and the fitting of numbered seats, the stadium, which is just a few kilometres from the hotel district, will have a capacity of 13,000.
Some 12 kilometres away lies King Abdullah II Stadium, which will be the other venue used at the U-17 Women’s World Cup. Built in 1999, it will also be upgraded and brought into line with international standards, with numbered seats being fitted. By the time the tournament gets under way it will have a capacity of 12,000.