Thou­sands – thou­sands! – of years of his­tory, or a lux­ury beach re­sort? You choose

Friday - - Leisure Charts -

I want to ex­plore...

One of the old­est in­hab­ited cities in the world, dat­ing back to the 9th mil­len­nium BC, Am­man is an his­tor­i­cal repos­i­tory, and a cooler al­ter­na­tive to pop­u­lar coastal des­ti­na­tions in the sum­mer months. An­cient meets mod­ern on vir­tu­ally every street cor­ner with Ro­man ru­ins, maze-like souqs, hip art gal­leries and trendy cafés dot­ted across the hilly city. His­tory buffs can wan­der around the Ci­tadel’s ru­ined Tem­ple of Her­cules and Um­mayad Palace ru­ins, while just down the hill is the spec­tac­u­lar 2nd cen­tury AD re­stored Ro­man am­phithe­atre.

Take an air-con­di­tioned breather at the Jor­dan Folk­lore Mu­seum and Mu­seum of Pop­u­lar Tradition, or lose your­self in the ar­chae­o­log­i­cal her­itage of the coun­try at the national Jor­dan Mu­seum. Cul­ture and re­tail ther­apy in­ter­sect in the city’s labyrinthine souqs with tra­di­tional jew­ellery and an­tiques on of­fer in Souq Al Bukharia, or lo­cal food and crafts at Fri­day’s Souq Jara, near the trendy din­ing and en­ter­tain­ment district around Rain­bow Street. Am­man is also the gate­way to the beau­ti­fully pre­served Greco-Ro­man set­tle­ment of Gerasa (Jerash). A 60-minute drive from the cap­i­tal, you en­ter the an­cient site through the im­pos­ing Hadrian’s Arch, then wan­der along the re­mains of city streets, gaze at the Corinthian col­umns of the Tem­ple of Artemis and grand colon­naded Fo­rum, or see a recre­ated char­iot race at the Hip­po­drome.

Ex­plore Am­man’s new emerg­ing downtown from the com­fort of a stylish stu­dio or apart­ment at The Boule­vard Ar­jaan by Rotana, with gor­geous city views from the rooftop pool and kitch­enette fa­cil­i­ties. Three nights from Dh1,418.

I want to un­wind...

A pic­turesque port on the Red Sea with a Mediter­ranean vibe, and Jor­dan’s only coastal city, Aqaba of­fers a re­laxed respite from the sum­mer heat, with the oc­ca­sional waft­ing sea breeze. An his­toric des­ti­na­tion in its own right with a 14th cen­tury Mam­luk fort and re­mains of the an­cient port city of Ayla at its heart, it is also some­thing of a hotspot for snorkelling and div­ing fans. Fif­teen kilo­me­tres up the road is the lux­ury coastal re­sort of Tala Bay, home to some of the area’s up­scale ho­tels. Stay lo­cal but in rel­a­tive lux­ury at the Aqaba Kempin­ski. Di­rectly on the beach, this re­sort has its own stretch of golden sand, pool, spa, wa­ter­sports ac­tiv­i­ties, and is just five min­utes walk from the city cen­tre. Three nights from Dh1,748. Off­set hours of pool loung­ing with a day trip to the lost Na­batean city of Pe­tra, one of the world’s most im­mer­sive Unesco World Her­itage Sites. Redis­cov­ered in 1812 by a Swiss ex­plorer, vis­i­tors emerge from the nar­row echo­ing walls of the Siq canyon to the jaw-drop­ping sight of the famed Trea­sury fa­cade. The stuff of le­gend, Pe­tra cov­ers 60km2 and was once home to 30,000 peo­ple with royal tombs, a colon­naded street and, 800 rock-hewn steps above, the awe-in­spir­ing moun­tain top Monastery. Or fol­low in the foot­steps of Lawrence of Ara­bia with a sun­set tour or a night spent un­der the stars in the red dunes and dra­matic rocky land­scape of Wadi Rum.

Ro­man ru­ins, dra­matic rocky land­scapes and a pic­turesque port of­fer some­thing for ev­ery­one

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