Following the footprints of the ancient Romans.

Jerash Travel Blog

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Columns of Jerash.
Today we pointed our rental car North, to the ancient Roman city of Jerash. Jerash is so incredibly well preserved, and so expansive, that if you squint your eyes to block out the other tourists, you can almost make believe you are right there with the Romans, two thousand years ago. We had a stellar day exploring this incredible place, the likes of which I have not seen before in all my travels. Just amazing.

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.
No gladiators were hurt in this demonstration.


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.
Gladiator trainee getting his butt kicked.
So we forked out the money and went in to sit on the 2,000 year old stone seats… just like the Romans used to do.

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.
After the show I asked this guy if he had ever tipped over. He has.
The guys worked really hard in that sun... I hope they get a nice share of the exorbinant entrance fee.

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.
Column cluster at the Temple of Artemis.
) The map tour took us in a big circle to cover the main sites, and at the end we were back on the south side, where we climbed up the many (scary, steep) steps of the South Theatre (90 AD). From there we had a great view of it all, including the pretty Oval Plaza, which was one of my favorites of the day.

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.
abuglio says:
Such great photos of the Gladiators! Team Yellow is in full swing btw. Q3! They all say hello!
Posted on: Jun 26, 2008
Sweetski says:
What a perfect day! Well, almost perfect. How can you miss the street to the hotel several times? Yesterday you didn't have any trouble finding it. Ah well, you did say you were a bit disappointed then. Shows you; be careful what you wish for... :D
Posted on: Jun 23, 2008
portia says:
sounds like a great day! and all those photos...
Posted on: Jun 22, 2008
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Columns of Jerash.
Columns of Jerash.
No gladiators were hurt in this de…
No gladiators were hurt in this d…
Gladiator trainee getting his butt…
Gladiator trainee getting his but…
After the show I asked this guy if…
After the show I asked this guy i…
Column cluster at the Temple of Ar…
Column cluster at the Temple of A…
Roman soldiers in formation.
Roman soldiers in formation.
Roman soldiers on defense.
Roman soldiers on defense.
Pensive soldier. Probably thinking…
Pensive soldier. Probably thinkin…
Man am I hot! This job sucks.
Man am I hot! This job sucks.
The guy out front got paid extra, …
The guy out front got paid extra,…
Latin flag.
Latin flag.
I think the Latin name for this in…
I think the Latin name for this i…
Retreating soldiers.
Retreating soldiers.
This guy was going for the Oscar.
This guy was going for the Oscar.
Gladiator trainees fight it out.
Gladiator trainees fight it out.
Take this, tough guy!
Take this, tough guy!
White horses take the lead!
White horses take the lead!
Rounding the corner on two wheels.
Rounding the corner on two wheels.
Oh man, I hate these post-show Me…
Oh man, I hate these post-show "M…
Im ready for my closeup.
I'm ready for my closeup.
Me, playing chariot racer.
Me, playing chariot racer.
Carved window grate.
Carved window grate.
1st Century Ionic Columns in the O…
1st Century Ionic Columns in the …
Jerash is one of the largest and m…
Jerash is one of the largest and …
Steve in the Oval Plaza.
Steve in the Oval Plaza.
Me in the Oval Plaza.
Me in the Oval Plaza.
Main street, or the Cardo.
Main street, or the Cardo.
The original paving stones of the …
The original paving stones of the…
Me, near the columns along the Car…
Me, near the columns along the Ca…
Enjoying Jerash tremendously!
Enjoying Jerash tremendously!
Along the Cardo.
Along the Cardo.
Column details.
Column details.
Steves water holster.
Steve's water holster.
Columns through a gateway.
Columns through a gateway.
The weed is a newer addition.
The weed is a newer addition.
Side street, only partially excava…
Side street, only partially excav…
Another Cardo shot.
Another Cardo shot.
Columns along the Cardo.
Columns along the Cardo.
Towering columns of Jerash.
Towering columns of Jerash.
Column detail.
Column detail.
Steve takes a hike.
Steve takes a hike.
Scary face in the stone.
Scary face in the stone.
Detail work on the Nymphaeum ornam…
Detail work on the Nymphaeum orna…
Me and lots of stairs.
Me and lots of stairs.
North Theatre, 165 AD.
North Theatre, 165 AD.
North Theatre, 165 AD.
North Theatre, 165 AD.
View from the North Theatre.
View from the North Theatre.
North gate.
North gate.
Columns of the Temple of Artemis.
Columns of the Temple of Artemis.
Column cluster at the Temple of Ar…
Column cluster at the Temple of A…
The road to the South Theatre.
The road to the South Theatre.
Oval plaza, viewed from near the S…
Oval plaza, viewed from near the …
Jerash panorama.
Jerash panorama.
Steve at the South Theatre.
Steve at the South Theatre.
Scary theatre stairs. Hope they ha…
Scary theatre stairs. Hope they h…
Bagpipe!??
Bagpipe!??
Steve photographing the musicians …
Steve photographing the musicians…
Steve climbs the stairs at South T…
Steve climbs the stairs at South …
Me at the South Theater.
Me at the South Theater.
Oval Plaza, as seen from the top o…
Oval Plaza, as seen from the top …
South Theatre.
South Theatre.
Hadrians Arch (129 AD).
Hadrian's Arch (129 AD).
Hadrians Arch, other side.
Hadrian's Arch, other side.
Landscape on the way home.
Landscape on the way home.
Jerash
photo by: tj1777