A close second to Petra on the list of favourite destinations in Jordan, the ancient city of Jerash boasts as unbroken chain of human occupation dating back more than 6,500 years.
The city’s golden age came under Roman rule and the site is now generally acknowledged to be one of the best preserved Roman provincial towns in the world. Hidden for centuries in sand before being excavated and restored over the past 70 years, Jerash reveals a fine example of the grand, formal provincial Roman urbanism that is found throughout the Middle East, comprising paved and colonnaded streets, soaring hilltop temples, handsome theatres, spacious public squares and plazas, baths, fountains and city walls pierced by towers and gates.
Beneath its external Graeco – Roman veneer, Jerash also preserves a subtle blend of east and west. Its architecture, religion and languages reflect a process by which two powerful cultures meshed and coexisted, The Graeco – Roman world of the Mediterranean basin and the ancient traditions of the Arab Orient.
The Jerash festival, held in July every year, transforms the ancient city into one of the world’s liveliest and most spectacular culture events. The festival features folklore dances by local and international groups, ballet, concerts, plays, opera, popular singers and sales of traditional handicrafts, all in the brilliantly floodlit dramatic surroundings of the Jerash ruins.