AndFarAway

A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

Appreciating a city

I spend a few weeks feeling extremely lovey dovey towards Amman after every time I travel. I stop complaining about the heat, I stop complaining about the crowded streets, and I stop complaining about the grouchy people. The truth is, the weather here is gorgeous, the crowded streets are actually not crowded at all, and sometimes grouchy is good.

Naturally, in a few weeks, I’ll yell “chowb!” every single time I feel hot, I’ll start whining about the crowd especially the one that’s a result of the hellish Abdoun detour, and I’ll start wondering why my fellow citizens don’t smile more often. Afterwards, I’ll compare our tiny streets to the elaborate infrastructure of Riyadh, our unhappy people to the life-loving people of Lebanon, and our early-to-bed-early-to-rise routine to the energetic 24-hour day of Cairo.

And honestly, I’m not much of a whiney person.

For now though, still feeling sticky from a city a lot more humid than my own, I’m indulging in this city of stone.

I would guess that during the millenia of pattering feet against its floors, many other people have indulged in this city, where the first record of a well-developed civilization traces back to around 6500 BC in ‘Ain Ghazal in eastern Amman. In the 13th century BC Amman was called Rabbath Ammon by the Ammonites, and was later conquered by the Assyrians, the Persians, and then the Greeks, who renamed it Philadelphia. The city became part of the Nabataean kingdom until AD 106 when Philadelphia came under Roman control and joined the Decapolis. In 324 AD, Christianity became the religion of the Roman empire and Philadelphia became the seat of a bishopric during the beginning of the Byzantine era.

Philadelphia was renamed to Amman during the Ghassanian era, and flourished under the Ummayyads and the Abbasids. It was then destroyed by several earthquakes and natural disasters and remained a small village and a pile of ruins until the Circassians settlemed there in 1887.

Naturally, the rest is history.

Downtown Amman from a cafe above
View of downtown Amman from the balcony of a cafe called Balat Il Rashid (during mid-day in spring)

Jabal il Hussein
A falafel place in Jabal il Hussein (Jabal is Arabic for mountain, as the city was originally built on seven hills, but it now spans over an area of nineteen hill)

Jabal Il Qal3a from Jabal Amman
View of the citadel (across) and the downtown area (in the valley) from Jabal Amman

Downtown Amman from Jabalil Weibdeh
View of Wadi Il Seer (wadi means valley) from Jabal Il Weibdeh

Abdoun
Abdoun area (one of the richest neighborhoods in Amman) from Abdoun Village (one of the poorest as it originally a village, but Amman grew and crawled until the village became in its center)

East Amman
East Amman, one of the poorer areas.

Darat Al-Funun
Levantine architecture in Darat-Al-Funun, an art gallery housed in a traditional Jordanian residence that goes back to the 1920s.

View of Amman from Darat Al-Funun
The backyard of Darat-Al-Funun, which is actually the archaeological remains of a six century Byzantine church built over a Roman Temple, all restored for use.

Corn-on-the-cob trolley, Amman
Corn-on-the-cob trolley.

Inside the alleys of downtown Amman
Inside one of the souqs of the downtown market.

Culture Street, Amman
Teenagers skateboarding on Culture Street.

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22 Comments

  1. 7elwa ya baladi :) … :(
    il 7amdillah 3a salameh

  2. 7elweh kteer :)

  3. aren’t the flowers in the last picture called the black Iris which is Jordan’s natianal flower?

  4. Hey,hope you enjoyed your trip to egypt..

    The photo from over luweibdeh is just spot on! thanks for posting that, please do post more if you can.

    Now.. Speaking about that “hellish abdoun detour”, have they finished building “jeser el nogaifeh” yet? I last saw its construction site about 8 months ago, n despite the evident skepticism of pretty much everybody i knew, I still thought it was pretty cool.. primarily because it looked a lot like how I’d imagine a Mars colony to be at night, (i.e strobe lights, big chunks of construction bits all over a steep, narrow, -slightly foggy- ravine.. hehe). Do you by any chance happen to have any photos of it?

  5. The photo from Jabal Waibdeh, thats wadi seer street not wadi seer itself, cuase you can’t really see wadi seer from jabal waibdeh, unless ofcourse you are superman or zarqa2 il yamameh or something :P

  6. and why are my comments not appearing? :(

  7. lol i saw this new post and i was sure that it was going to be about egypt but i guess i was wrong…very nice some of the things i didn’t know about amman…

    hmm i don’t think ive ever been to ‘culture street’…i should go check it out one day…

  8. Nice, amman is great

  9. Shy

    Great photos

  10. DaveindeSwamp

    Okay, Roba, time for you to come to New Orleans, then . @4 hours like Cairo,m generally nice and uninhibited like Lebanon, and as hot and humid as you might want (to whine about. We do, so why not you? )

  11. I agree,, Everytime i go out of amman, i long to come back, and discover that i couldnt live anywhere else! Amman Sweet Amman!

  12. Thanks for the history and the nice pictures.

    We do have a really nice city :)

    It is too bad that I don’t know much of it’s history. I havent known before that Circassians who moved here in 1887 were the ones responsible of putting this city back on the map.

  13. Roba! its Wadi Saqra ,,, and Wadi Saqra St (The Pic from Webdeh)…

    Awesome Pics,,,, bring me sweet memories from jordan (Though im away only since 10 days!)

    Just Wonderful!

  14. Ah, those photos bring memories! It’s been one and a half years since I visited your metropolis.
    I hop I’ll have a chance to see it again some day.

    I’ve got a question – when I was in Amman I remember eating some kind of a cheese cake dipped in honey, it was very sweet and very nourishing, it was served in some alley shop, prepared on the site on large round metal plates and then cut into small pieces – can you tell me the name of this dish? The place was very busy, looked like it was a popular midday snack among the locals.

  15. Brite, the dessert you are talking about is called “Knafeh” (Wikipedia it for more information), and I’m guessing the place you’re talking about is called Habiba, and it’s in downtown Amman.

  16. lol! Cheese cake with honey = Kenafeh! I was wondering what the hell is Cheese cake with honey :)

  17. Thanks a lot! That’s it!
    http://srv.fotopages.com/2/2476.jpg
    It was delicious, my guide bought me 2 different pieces, and after eating them I felt very full like after eating a big meal.
    The place was in downtown Amman somewhere in a side alley not far from a multi-storey parking.
    Somewhere in this area:
    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&q=amman,+Jordan&ie=UTF8&ll=31.950929,35.934874&spn=0.002062,0.005407&t=k&om=1

  18. amjad

    Really Roba you great have catching eye when you take photos,Thanks to let us remember how amman despite all its errors and contrast can still our beloved city.

    Thanks alot

  19. Roba… Jabal El Waibdeh is NO WHERE NEAR Wadi El Seer. That’s Wadi Saqra

  20. mohamed

    i miss jordaaaaaaaaaan :((

  21. i miss Jordan so much
    was there foe six yrs
    no skateboarders around only me and my housemate
    must go back to skate in a new spot called Culture Street
    nice pic Roba

  22. mohammad

    ya salam!
    And he have sexty now, he remember Fouad ” sandwech” and Habebah ” Knafeh” near Arab bank, in the down town.

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