Standing at the border of Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Israel – Umm Qais, Jordan
Our first day trip in Jordan was barely in Jordan.
Driving to the extreme north west of Jordan from our base in Amman the road signs often listed as many countries as cities. As we passed through Irbid, the last major town before the border, the signs read turn left for Israel, turn right for Syria or straight ahead to Lebanon.
Arriving at Umm Qais, or Umm Quays as it’s often spelt, was a bit of an anti-climax. Dating back to the 3rd century BC, the initial view is piles upon piles of boulders. Beyond that are more boulders lining a short road up a hill. Cresting the hill reveals the rest of the city, which is in far better repair.
On the right is an amphitheatre. Simple at first glance it’s built to such precision that the acoustics from the stage are perfect in any seat.
The road widens and becomes the town’s shopping street. The road is lined with small cave-like shops, decorated by well-preserved stone carvings.
The road itself is heavily worn yet the cart tracks can still be seen. The road is paved diagonally, to greatly reduce noise from the carts wooden wheels.
At the end of the valley is a panoramic viewpoint – ahead can be seen the Sea of Galilee and the Israeli town of Tiberias. To the right is a lush green valley, marking the disputed Golan Heights (run by Israel since 1967 but claimed by Syria). Barely visibly in the hazy distance is Mount Hermon, marking the border of Lebanon.
Above the shopping area are the religious temples. All that remain are the black and white pillars leading back up the hill towards the residential area.
As we walked in to Umm Qais we were approached by a guide asking if we wanted a tour. I wasn’t too bothered but he offered “Fifteen”, which is cheap enough not to worry about.
After showing us around I smiled and handed him twenty to include a tip, to which he replied without prompting “No, fifty, not fifteen” as if this were a regular occurrence.
Umm Qais Tips
Looking back at our trip, Umm Qais was our first day trip in Jordan and I have to say the least interesting site we visited. We combined it with a trip to Ajlun Castle and the roman town of Jerash.
Fortunately we were on a reasonably relaxed schedule, but if you’re pressed for time I wouldn’t say Umm Qais is worth half of one of your precious days – visit Ajlun then spend much more time in Jerash.