I have arrived in Amman on the same day as Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The next day I went to the city and the first thing I saw were military armored vehicles and hundreds of policemen guarding the demonstration against the US president’s decision. My boys would love it ! The situation looked pretty serious. Thousands of people went on the streets. A march from Palestinian refuge camp of Al-Buqaa to the capital took place.
The official number of Palestinians living in Jordan is unknown but in 2008, Minority Rights Group International estimated that about 3 million people residing in Jordan have Palestinian origin. The majority of them live in the northern part of Jordan, mainly around Amman. No wonder the protest was so heavy. There was a huge poster hanging from a balcony with a swastika on Donald Trump face and words: “Trump. Extremist Maker in the World.”.
After passing the protesters I started exploring the city as tourists usually do. First thing to visit is Amman’s Roman Theatre . This 6’000-seat theater was built in 2nd-century during the Roman period when the city was known as Philadelphia. It is the most famous landmark in the Jordanian capital. Beside being a landmark and an important historical site, the Roman Theater, with its busy square in front, is a social gathering place always bustling with live. After visiting the theater Jordan Museum of Popular Tradition and the Jordan Folklore Museum can be visited.
Kanafeh (Traditional Palestinian dessert)
Kanafeh is a traditional Palestinian dessert made with cheese pastry soaked in sweet, sugar-based syrup. Its origin comes back to 10th century (!!!), believed to have originated in the Palestinian city of Nablus. It is quite sweet so be prepared for it ! It is very popular throughout the Arab world. In Amman the best place to taste Kanafeh is Habibah Sweets. You have to stand in a queue to get one there !
Delicious dip/spread made from chickpeas or other beans, blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic. It is being served in many ways: with bread, various vegetables, falafel or just as a dip for meat. If you like hummus, Jordan is a place for you. Many travelers and foodies describe Jordanian hummus as the best in the world.
Bars & Cafes in Amman
There is enough places to explore in Amman. Variety of live music venues, dance clubs, shops, bars, restaurants, shisha cafes/lounges are open till late night. The busiest day of the week is Thursday night when the Islamic weekend kicks in. The majority of hotspots are located around Rainbow Street but there are also other good places spread all over the city. Some restaurant have great outdoor terraces where the lively streets can be experienced from above.
Best souvenirs from Amman ?
This of course depends on your baggage allowance … My top 3 souvenirs (which I actually brought with me) are:
Palestinian/Jordanian keffiyeh – traditional head scarf. It can be used as a scarf, tied around your head or used as sun/wind protection. Very universal. They come in different colors with black-and-white and red-and-white being the most popular. The black-and-white version was Yasser Arafat’s iconic symbol.
Creams & Perfumes – It’s quality cannot be compared with whatever you buy in a normal shop in Europe. It is just different league.
Coffee – Coffee is a must. Just find a place with fresh coffee beans and get a bag home.
www.visitjordan.com – Official Website of The Jordan Tourism Board
www.nationalgeographic.com – Top 10 Reasons to Visit Jordan
www.nationalgeographic.com – Top 10 Things to do in Amman
www.wildjordan.com – Wild Jordan is a registered trademark of The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature
www.habibahsweets.com – Habibah Sweets
www.wikipedia.org – Info about Keffiyeh
TREKKING & HIKING
www.jordantrail.org – The Jordan Trail Official Website