Following the footprints of the ancient Romans.
Jerash Travel Blog› entry 115 of 251 › view all entries
June 21st, 2008 – by: cmgervais
The city is a popular tourist destination, so it was well marked and easy to find. The parking lot on the extreme south side was not shaded (the steering wheel was later to burn me), and OH, was it ever HOT out! We have yet to see a cloud in the country at all.
We entered on foot at the South Gate (after paying JD7 for entrance tickets), which was marked by a very prominent Hadrian’s Arch (129 AD, built to commemorate Emperor Hadrian’s visit) . We did not stop to admire it though … because we were running! Wait, it was way too hot to be running. I was just following Steve, who was trying to get to the show that had just started in the Hippodrome (ancient Roman arena, where chariot races and other sports took place. About half of the Hippodrome at Jerash has been restored).
We got to the gate and found they were charging JD12 (about $17) for some sort of Gladiator Show and chariot race. I was like, No way, that’s too expensive for some cheesy tourist show! But Steve was practically jumping up and down in excitement -- he REALLY wanted to see the show.
Right away I thought, Oh, these are some sad looking gladiators. They were standing out in the blistering sun, sweating, and generally looking miserable, while the Gladiator with the Mic told us about various battle styles and formations. The Romans had some rather unique and advanced techniques, which is pretty much the reason why the Roman Empire was so dang big -- no one could fight them off.
Soon the guys were actually demonstrating these techniques and it got more interesting. Then they reenacted some real fights, complete with choreography, clanking swords, and bodies flying though the air. Well, soon I was clapping and cheering along with the crowd, and I have to admit, it was a lot of fun.
Finally, there was a chariot race, and the horses did seem to be really racing, and went around the track several times. It was about as close to Ancient Rome sports as one can get, and I was thoroughly entertained.
From there, we exited and basically walked a straight line through the excavated and restored city, along the colonnaded street, called the Cardo. It was so well preserved. We were actually walking on the road (albeit now quite buckled) where the Romans walked… and we could see the grooves their chariot wheels had made in the stone! I love this stuff. It was incredible. We exclaimed frequently and loudly about what we were seeing. (Ancient “traffic circle”! Shops! Temples! Churches! Theatres! And they say that only 10% of the excavation has been done.
It took us almost three hours to see it all. We explored things pretty thoroughly, following along on the descriptive map we picked up in the Visitor’s Center. I think I mentioned it was hot? Well, that didn’t let up. We went through lots of water, as there was little relief from the sun (no roofs!). I think I saw a lady on the verge of heat stroke -- yes, she was being attended to by her tour guide.
From Jerash, we drove back into town, stopping along the way at a large sunny mall with a Carrefour supermarket. It was a great place, and fun shopping there. We stocked up on hummus, pitas, and tabouleh for dinner. I was really looking forward to dining in for once. (Although it took us some time to get to the hotel -- we kept missing the road, and drove around the city, maybe a couple times).
So sleepy! It was a big, tiring day, and a thoroughly rewarding one at that.
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!