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Jordan: While you’re there

Jordan does not lack for historic, natural and religious wonders, as I discovered when I saw my busy itinerary for the week. Make sure to not skip anything when visiting this holy land.

Jerash: Not a simple set of ruins, Jerash is an expansive Roman city brought back to life. The towering Hadrian’s Arch marks the entrance to Jerash. From there, I found it fun to explore the site’s Temple of Zeus, Temple of Artemis, Main Street, Oval Plaza and giant hippodrome used for chariot races. The chariot arena has been partially restored, making it easy to picture someone like Ben Hur racing around the arena.

Mukawir: One of King Herod’s palaces from the time of Jesus lies on top of a mountain overlooking the Dead Sea and surrounding desert. The son of Herod imprisoned and beheaded John the Baptist from this same palace. I enjoyed the quiet walk up to Mukawir for the unspoiled view and to imagine the palace ruins as they appeared when John the Baptist was kept there.

St. Stephen’s Church: Surrounded by Roman, Byzantine and Muslim ruins, Umm Ar-Rasas was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2004. Amazingly, Roman houses with arches and windows have survived the centuries at the archaeological site. However, the true spectacle lies inside St. Stephen’s Church, where a perfectly preserved mosaic floor from A.D. 785 was discovered in 1986. The largest mosaic floor in Jordan, the mosaic shows fascinating scenes of daily life and nearby cities.

Snorkeling in the Red Sea: The Red Sea is not red at all. It is, instead, incredibly blue with many corals and much marine life under its surface. I could not believe my eyes while snorkeling under the bright blue water, where I saw fish of every shape, size and color. It seemed as though God must have been playing with crayons when he created such a beautiful coral reef.

Jordan Tourism Board North America