The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is an unforgiving stretch of desert that sits at the crossroads of Africa, Asia and Europe in a region known as the Levant. For thousands of years, Jordan has been at the epicentre of regional conflicts, the rise and fall of the mightiest empires the world has ever seen and the ravages of Mother Nature’s wrath. Yet, despite being a relatively young state, the land on which Jordan stands is anything but, with many famous Jordan landmarks dating back to biblical times.
It’s a region that has experienced many brutal battles and foreign invasions of its sacred lands. It is a nation trying to move past its challenging history to forge its own story and a nation filled with incredible landmarks waiting to be discovered. It’s a country that’s home to some of the most significant historical sites of the ancient world and a country that’s home to impeccable landscapes untouched for centuries, so book your ticket and say hello to a world once lost in time. Here are the 20 most significant landmarks in Jordan.
20 Jordan Landmarks
Natural Landmarks in Jordan
1- Dead Sea
The Dead Sea is undoubtedly one of Jordan’s most iconic landmarks, and for a good reason.
Famous worldwide for its high salt concentration and mineral-rich waters, the Dead Sea shimmers brightly on the horizon and has attracted people to its turquoise waters for thousands of years.
Thanks to its low elevation of 422 m (1,385 feet) below sea level, the lowest point on dry land in the entire world, water cannot flow down to the surrounding ocean, and thus salt and other minerals get trapped.
These minerals are supposedly excellent for your skin and have many healing properties, with many luxurious spas and resorts dedicated to pampering guests dotted all along the Dead Sea’s shoreline.
2- Wadi Rum
Few landmarks in Jordan can captivate and mesmerise visitors like the famous Wadi Rum desert.
Situated in the southern part of Jordan, Wadi Rum, with its sandstone pillars, rocky cliffs and red dunes, will make you feel as if you’ve been whisked to a far-away planet.
Used as the setting for countless Hollywood films, including the 1962 classic Lawrence of Arabia, Wadi Rum became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011.
Despite its barren appearance, the Wadi Rum desert is a thriving ecosystem supporting a range of flowers, animals and even some nomadic Bedouin tribes native to the region.
It’s a Jordan landmark filled with incredible sights, fun activities and history for the whole family to enjoy and is a fun excursion away from the cities.
3- Mount Nebo
Mount Nebo, situated about 10 km (6.2 miles) northwest of Madaba, is a significant religious landmark in Jordan for Christians.
It’s the place where Moses first laid eyes on the Promised Land, as well as where he had his final vision before his death.
One of Jordan’s holiest sites, Mount Nebo, is rumoured to be the burial place of Moses and has attracted religious pilgrims since the 4th century.
The 1,000 m (3,281ft) tall mountain offers visitors commanding views of the Jordan River valley and the Dead Sea.
The nearby Memorial Church of Moses has some impressive mosaic displays to observe.
Mount Nebo is a significant landmark to visit, no matter your religion.
You can enjoy various historically preserved Byzantine artefacts and sweeping vistas stretching as far as the eye can see at Mount Nebo.
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4- The Jordan Valley in Al-Ghor
The Jordan Valley in Al-Ghor is a stark contrast to the desert-like landscape that covers most of Jordan, with lush plantations and a subtropical climate found throughout the valley.
Fed by the River Jordan, which runs south from the Sea of Galilee toward the Dead Sea, the Jordan Valley is flanked by mountains and was first settled around 10,000 years ago thanks to its highly fertile soil.
Forming part of the border between Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Territories, the Jordan Valley plays a crucial role in all three countries’ agricultural industries.
It has been at the heart of multiple wars and disputes.
Today, however, the region is peaceful and welcomes visitors with open arms to visit the many family-run farms dotted throughout the valley.
It’s well worth the visit to experience a side of Jordan radically different from the rest of the country.
5- Wadi Mujib
Wadi Mujib is Jordan’s version of the Grand Canyon, stretching 70 km (43 miles) from the Desert Highway to the Dead Sea.
At 4 km (2.5 miles) across and 1 km (0.62 miles) deep, Wadi Mujib’s not quite the same size as the Grand Canyon in the USA, however, it provides nature enthusiasts with excellent opportunities to spot some incredibly rare animals.
Many critically endangered animal species native to the region, such as Egyptian vultures, Nubian ibex, striped hyenas and Syrian wolves, can all be spotted in and around the Wadi Mujib area.
There are also some fantastic hiking trails throughout the Wadi Mujib gorge available for those not afraid to get a little wet as some of them pass by streams and waterfalls.
Wadi Mujib is an excellent getaway for outdoor enthusiasts hoping to explore some of Jordan’s raw natural beauty.
6- Mujib Biosphere Reserve
Close to the Wadi Mujib gorge sits the Mujib Biosphere Reserve, the lowest nature reserve in the world.
Established by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature to breed the critically endangered Nubian Ibex, the reserve has over 400 plant species, 250 animal species, and 186 bird species.
The Mujib Biosphere Reserve also contains numerous hot springs where guests can enjoy the opportunity to relax and be pampered with incredible vistas of the surrounding reserve.
Thanks to its proximity to Wadi Mujib and being only a 90-minute drive from Amman, the Mujib Biosphere Reserve is a famous Jordan landmark to visit as a day trip easily combined with a stop at Wadi Mujib.
7- Shaumari Wildlife Reserve
Similar to the Mujib Biosphere Reserve, the Shaumari Wildlife Reserve was also established by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature in 1975 to save the critically endangered animal species native to the Middle East region.
Popular with children and school trips, the reserve’s breeding enclosures also contain small zoos where visitors can observe these rare animals up close.
The reserve’s modern-looking visitor centre welcomes guests to learn all about the animals found throughout the reserve.
The centre also has a cafeteria and picnic area for guests to relax.
Be sure not to miss out on the opportunity to go on a safari to catch a glimpse of the reserve’s majestic animals in their natural habitat when visiting the Shaumari Wildlife Reserve.
8- Azraq Wetland Reserve
For thousands of years, the Azraq Basin consisted of a large area of mudflats, marshlands, and natural pools, making Azraq a vital source of water throughout the Levant.
The continuous expansion and ever-increasing population of Jordan’s cities led to the subsequent disappearance of 90% of the wetlands as more and more people needed water.
Thankfully, the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature stepped in to preserve the remaining 10% of this once lush area and ensure that the 300 plus migrating bird species pass by Azraq on their way to and from Europe.
Be sure to pay a visit to enjoy the reserve’s great hiking trails and the opportunity to spot some incredible bird species if you’re a fan of the outdoors.
9- Ma’in Hot Springs
The Ma’in Hot Springs is a beautiful mineral spring resort located next to the Dead Sea.
Only 30 km (18.6 miles) from Madaba, you can relax in the tranquil waters of the springs while overlooking waterfalls and incredible views around the mountainside resort.
While Ma’In Hot Springs is a fully functioning luxury resort, you don’t need to stay the night to enjoy the springs, with day passes available to purchase, granting guests access to the resort’s springs.
As one of Jordan’s most picturesque resorts, the Ma’In Hot Springs is a most relaxing place to enjoy Jordan’s beautiful landscape.
10- Dana Biosphere Reserve
The Dana Biosphere Reserve is Jordan’s largest natural reserve, covering an area of roughly 320 sq. km (123.5 sq. mi) of beautiful mountains and wadis along the Great Rift Valley’s face.
Dana is home to a range of animal and plant species, many endangered.
It also has an incredibly diverse landscape, from searing red dunes in the west to chilly mountaintops in the east, making it an exciting and entertaining outdoor attraction.
While the reserve is undoubtedly an important natural landmark in Jordan, it’s also an important historical site, with remnants of civilisations dating back to 4,000 BC discovered within the area.
The sheer vastness and wide selection of activities and sights make the Dana Biosphere Reserve worth adding to your itinerary while in Jordan.
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Historic Landmarks In Jordan
11- Jerash Roman Ruins
In a country famous for its many historical sites, the ancient Roman ruins at Jerash are among the finest preserved and most magnificent throughout Jordan.
With traces of civilisation dating back to the early Stone Age, Jerash’s heyday was when Trajan and Hadrian commenced massive building projects during the Roman occupation.
Hadrian’s Triumphal Arch, the Hippodrome, a 1st-century theatre, the Church of Bishop Marianos, the Temple of Artemis and the magnificently preserved Oval Plaza are all wonderfully preserved Roman ruins to marvel at in Jerash.
An excellent collection of landmarks in Jordan to look at, these ruins serve as a reminder of the power and influence the Roman Empire once had and are all that remain of this once-mighty empire’s reign over the region.
12- Ajloun Castle
Towering over the landscape at the head of the Jordan Valley is the Ajloun Castle, which has been protecting the region for over 800 years.
Commissioned by Saladin to guard the region against the multiple Crusades during medieval times, Ajloun Castle even saw off an invasion by the Mongols and has remained standing despite several large earthquakes, albeit not entirely unscathed.
Also located at Ajloun Castle is the Ajlun Archaeological Museum, housed within the castle walls, which displays ceramics, pottery and various other artefacts native to the region.
It’s a landmark steeped in history, turmoil and cultural significance, making it a wonderful place to visit during your trip to Jordan to learn more about the country’s bloody past and the efforts made by locals to rebuild and restore their history.
13- Amman Roman Amphitheatre
The 6,000-seat Roman Amphitheatre in Amman was built around 140 AD when Amman was still known as Philadelphia.
Historians cannot determine with certainty whether the Romans built the amphitheatre during the reign of Antonius Pius or Marcus Aurelius.
However, the grandeur and former opulence of the structure remain unquestioned, and the Amman Roman Amphitheatre is one of the best-preserved Roman Amphitheatres in the world.
It is open to the public, following a restoration, which started in 1957 after the theatre was first unearthed.
A great place to view downtown Amman from, the theatre is a popular monument in Jordan.
It even sporadically hosts various live performances throughout the year, making it a culturally significant landmark in Jordan not to be missed.
Petra, or the ‘Red Rose City’, is one of the world’s ancient wonders.
Accessible by foot via the narrow Siq Canyon, the first view of the gleaming façade of the Treasury is truly unforgettable.
The former capital of the Nabatean Kingdom, Petra fell under the dominion of the Roman Empire around the beginning of the second century.
The city gained immense riches thanks to its abundant natural resources, almost impenetrable location, and geographic position at the intersection of the region’s most important trading routes.
The haunting ruins of temples and tombs remain as majestic as ever and have been inspiring travellers worldwide to visit this iconic Jordanian landmark.
Petra is Jordan’s most famous landmark and a visit will leave you with a lifetime of memories.
15- Um er-Rasas
Starting as a Roman military camp, the UNESCO World Heritage Um er-Rasas became an important town during the 5th century.
Even though most of the town is still unexcavated, remnants from the Byzantine, Roman and Early Muslim periods stretching from the 3rd to the 9th century AD have already been unearthed, making Um er-Rasas a significant historical landmark in Jordan.
Um er-Rasas also contains 16 churches, some of which have intricate mosaic works.
Some of the best mosaics are at the Church of St Stephen, where the church floor is covered in colourful mosaic tiles depicting historic towns in the region.
This often-forgotten Jordan landmark is easy to miss, however, if you have the time to make a stop at Um er-Rasas, you’ll be rewarded with one of the most historically significant experiences in the entire region.
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16- Qasr Bashir
Roughly an hour’s drive south from Amman, Qasr Bashir is one of the best-preserved Roman fortresses in the world.
Never reconstructed by other empires and civilisations after being initially built during the 4th century, Qasr Bashir is a perfect example of Roman architecture and has been on the UNESCO World Heritage Site’s tentative list since 2001.
While many earthquakes have done their fair share of damage to the structure, it still stands to this day and is an iconic destination for anyone interested in the history of the Roman Empire.
If you plan on visiting Qasr Bashir, be sure to arrange for a 4WD vehicle if you don’t have one since the fort is off the beaten path and quite remote.
17- Temple of Hercules
Perched atop the tallest hill in Amman and situated within the historic Citadel lies the Temple of Hercules, a Roman Temple constructed between 162 and 166 AD during the reign of Marcus Aurelius.
Only two columns remain today, with various bits and pieces of the once gigantic marble statue of Hercules himself scattered throughout the area.
The exact size of the temple or the statue of Hercules has never been determined, but some experts believe the Temple of Hercules would have been larger than any temple in Rome today.
While little remains of the once commanding temple, visitors to the site can still marvel at the ruins and great views of Amman from high above.
One of the holiest pilgrimage sites for Christians worldwide, Al-Maghtas is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the possible location where John The Baptist baptised Jesus Christ.
On the River Jordan’s eastern bank, about 8 km (5 mi) north of the Dead Sea, the Al-Maghtas archaeological site includes more than 20 points of interest, including caves, baptism pools and a monastery.
Easily accessible and a fantastic way to spend the afternoon, visiting Al-Maghtas is an enjoyable experience even if you’re not particularly religious.
19- Church of St George
The Church of St George is famous worldwide as the location of the famous Madaba Map of the Middle East, a 6th-century floor mosaic depicting the entire Holy Land region.
The mosaic is the oldest known geographic floor mosaic in the world.
It is accurate and has been used to discover various structures and roads previously unknown to archaeologists.
Even though many earthquakes and conquests have damaged large sections of the original mosaic over the centuries, the mosaic is still an incredible sight to observe up close to grasp its level of detail.
The Church of St George is a must-visit landmark in Jordan for anyone interested in art and the history of the Middle East.
20- Jabal Al Weibdeh
Despite being known as Amman’s hipster and bohemian district, Jabal Al Weibdeh is one of the city’s oldest neighbourhoods and is filled with all sorts of eclectic shops and cafes.
Home to a large expat community, Jabal Al Weibdeh attracts artists and writers with its narrow streets, art galleries and original stone buildings.
Sandwiched between the city’s historic and downtown areas, Jabal Al Weibdeh provides the best of both worlds to travellers and is an excellent point to explore the rest of Jordan’s capital.
Be sure to take some time to stroll through the district’s streets filled with interesting murals and trendy cafes to take a break from hunting down Jordan’s many incredible landmarks.
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