Of all the great things to do in Amman, visiting the Amman Citadel was my absolute favorite.
Situated atop a hill and overlooking the bustling capital of Jordan, this ancient site offers not only an interesting journey through the country’s history but panoramic views as well.
These two facts alone make it a must-visit place for everyone, even if you’re not as passionate about history as I am.
However, before you set foot on the ancient site, there are a few things you should know or that might be of interest prior to your visit.
Good for you that I compiled all the necessary information in this blog post, helping you to save some time. You can thank me later because now it’s time to get prepared for Amman’s most breathtaking sight!
TIP: Before you travel to Jordan, I highly recommend buying the Jordan Pass. It includes a tourist visa with FREE entry to more than 40 tourist sites, many of them being in Amman.
(This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a certain percentage of a sale if you purchase after clicking.)
History of The Amman Citadel
Dating back thousands of years, the Amman Citadel has seen many different civilizations come and go, starting from the Bronze Age and continuing through the Roman, Byzantine, and Islamic eras.
The Citadel’s most significant historical period, however, is its Roman past. During the 2nd century AD, it was known as Philadelphia, one of the ten cities of the Decapolis.
During this period, the Romans left their architectural imprint including the iconic Temple of Hercules.
Later, the Byzantines and Umayyads occupied the Citadel, adding structures like the Byzantine Church and the Umayyad Palace, that showcase remarkable Islamic architecture.
Today, while wandering its ruins, you’ll be able to feel the echoes of time, appreciating its role as an enduring symbol of Jordan’s heritage and historical significance.
Location of The Site
Getting to the citadel is relatively straightforward thanks to its location in the Al Qala’a area, a central district of the city.
It’s only 15 minutes by foot from the downtown area and the Roman Theater, so you can easily reach the Citadel by walking, though it involves a bit of an uphill climb. Alternatively, you can take a short taxi ride to the entrance.
If you’re a bit further outside the center the best way to get there is also by taxi as it will drop you off right at the entrance.
We stayed at the Hilton Amman in the Abdali area and hired a taxi to the citadel as it was our first destination of the day. The ride took a bit more than 10 minutes so not the world either.
The entrance is located on Museum Street near King Ali Ben Al-Hussein Street and there’s a parking lot if you come by car.
Opening Times & Entrance Fee
The opening times of the citadel vary, depending on the time of the year.
During the winter months, from October to March, it welcomes you between 8:00 am and 4:00 pm. Whereas, in the summer, the Citadel extends its hours, allowing you to explore its wonders until 7:00 pm.
For an optimal experience, I highly recommend making your way to the Amman Citadel right at its 8:00 am opening time.
By doing so, you’ll have the advantage of beating the crowds and, particularly in the scorching summer months, escaping the intense heat.
If you haven’t bought the Jordan Pass – which I advise you to get as it grants access to multiple historical sites in Jordan and includes a tourist visa – you’ll need to pay an entrance fee of JOD 3, roughly equivalent to $4.
What to Wear at The Amman Citadel
For your visit to the Amman Citadel, it’s also essential to know what to wear. Your outfit should be appropriate for both the local culture and the weather conditions.
Jordan is a conservative country, so it’s best to wear modest clothing. For both men and women, this means covering your shoulders and knees.
Loose-fitting, long-sleeved tops and pants or skirts that reach below the knee are a good choice.
The site is quite big so you’ll walk a lot. Make sure you wear comfortable and sturdy shoes as you’ll be exploring uneven terrain. Sneakers or closed-toe sandals are a good option.
Especially in summer, Amman can get quite hot (speaking from experience) and you won’t be much in the shade at the Citadel. It’s definitely not wrong to take something to cover your head, wear sunglasses, and use sun protection.
The weather in Amman can vary, so it’s a good idea to dress in layers. You may want to wear a light sweater or jacket in the cooler months and be able to remove it when it gets warmer during the day.
What to See at The Amman Citadel
While wandering around the site, you’ll find a remarkable blend of historical and archaeological wonders set against the stunning backdrop of Amman’s skyline.
The following sights are just some of the many great ones to explore at the Amman Citadel so make sure to go off the main path as well to discover more of its secrets!
Temple of Hercules
Undoubtedly the most iconic and popular ancient ruin is the Temple of Hercules which is featured in most photos of the Citadel.
Dating back to the Roman period, it once stood as a grand testament to the power and influence of the Roman Empire in the region.
What set this temple apart is its colossal size, featuring massive pillars that supported a monumental structure. Today, you can still see some of these gigantic pillars, which are among the largest of their kind in the world.
Umayyad Palace Complex
Besides the Temple of Hercules, another famous and grand sight to see is the Umayyad Palace Complex.
This remarkable architectural treasure offers a glimpse into the Umayyad period’s grandeur. The complex comprises several structures, with the standout features being the Audience Hall, a water cistern, and a large courtyard.
The Audience Hall, with its exquisite decorative elements and a centrally placed dome, is particularly special. It served as a reception and ceremonial space, showcasing the opulence of the Umayyad dynasty.
The ancient cistern played a crucial role in the daily life of the palace and the surrounding area.
It was designed to collect and store rainwater, ensuring a reliable water supply for the palace’s residents and the city’s inhabitants.
What makes the Umayyad Palace Complex special is its historical significance as one of the most intact examples of early Islamic architecture, reflecting the Umayyad’s architectural skills and their influence on the region during their rule.
Another fascinating archaeological discovery is the remains of the Byzantine Church.
This ancient place of worship dates back to the Byzantine period and features well-preserved architectural elements, including mosaic floors and remnants of its original structure.
What’s particularly special about the Byzantine Church is its historical significance. It stands as a testament to the early spread of Christianity in the area and the cultural diversity that has shaped Amman over the centuries.
Jordan Archaeological Museum
Last but not least, don’t forget a visit to the Jordan Archaeological Museum.
It’s located right next to the Temple of Hercules and showcases a wide range of archaeological finds, including sculptures, pottery, jewelry, and inscriptions from various historical periods.
As you can see, there’s lots to explore at the Amman Citadel – and that’s by no means all! Of course, I don’t want to give too much away 😉
How Much Time to Plan & Last Words
Depending on your level of interest in history and archaeology, 2-3 hours is sufficient to explore the key attractions and gain a good understanding of the site.
However, if you’re a history enthusiast or enjoy a more leisurely pace, you might want to allocate 4-5 hours to fully immerse yourself in the site.
We spent around three hours at the site and had enough time to see the majority of all the sights and enjoy the panoramic view of Amman.
There’s also a small shop/café where you can buy drinks, snacks, postcards, local handicrafts, and souvenirs.
All in all, a visit to the Amman Citadel is an extraordinary experience and a great way to learn more about the country’s fascinating history.
I’m convinced, you’ll enjoy your visit just as much as I did!
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