on the day we visited Jerash, we stopped by at Ajlun too. the castle on the steep hilltop in Ajlun is called Qal-at al-Rabad and was built over an old monastery by one of Saladin’s (Salah al-Din) army generals in 1184. it is one of many Islamic forts that the Crusaders fought to take over.
a ghost in a hallway.
as we explored the castle, we felt some sense of wonderment and strangely, kinship to the men who had once served under Saladin in this fort, fighting the Crusaders, many to their deaths.
it is obvious why Saladin’s men decided to build a fort here, the 360° view from the summit is amazing.
wind shafts in every room, for ventilation, to cool down hot, sinewy, soldiers.
thou shalt not trespass me for i have, in my hands, a cannonball! that, i wouldn’t drop on anyone’s foot. they must have had some sexy biceps action going on back then.
ah, look. how nice it is to see what we looked like before we got black and brown (left to right respectively) over the days to come.
brave men with bulging calves used to run up these stairs.
exploring Jerash in the heat and climbing rocks and stairs at Ajlun positively tired us out. i desperately needed a camera bag so we headed down to one of Amman’s malls. the Jordanians we encountered here could understand English but were unable to reply in fluent English (which surprised me) – however, they tried so hard to communicate with us, that we were struck by their sincerity. we love you, Jordan.
Ravi decided he could no longer deal with his squirrel tail hair no more and had the most perfect shave in his life. it was the straightest damn hairline i’d ever seen. he found his dream barber, and 2 days later, i found my dream hairdresser. which makes our next haircuts really expensive!
a little history lesson about Amman: it was once called Rabbath Ammon or “Great City of the Ammonites” and was ruled by different peoples at different times, Assyria, Babylonia, the Ptolemies, the Seleucids, Rome and then the Umayyads. Ptolemy II Philadelphus then renamed Amman “Philadelphia”.
the next day, we rushed to Jabal al-Qala’a, the hill of the Citadel in Amman. the big plan was to finish sites in Amman before heading to Jerusalem. we were so psyched.
the temple of Hercules/Heracles.
from up here, you get a pretty clear panorama of some parts of Amman. cradled in the middle of this modern day city is the Roman theatre, carved out of the mountain. it rises quite stubbornly, refusing to be forgotten in the smog of modernization.
al-Qasr, part of the Umayyad dynasty. don’t have me notes with me, but i believe this is the dome, within the compound of the mosque. the original dome’s long gone, but restorers have replaced it with a wooden one.
the Umayyad mosque.
i could frolick here all day.
must have been gorgeous back then!
the museum up here, while austere, is full of goodies. housed in a bungalow that feels more like a house, you’d find pieces excavated from the Middle Bronze and Iron ages to Hellenistic, Roman and Islamic ages. wish we had more time. in fact, had we known about how inefficient (and arrogant and rude!) the Israeli customs at the Allenby bridge would be, we’d have spent more time in this museum.
we rushed downhill to the Roman theatre. this time, we passed on climbing the steep steps. i can almost hear Roman robes swishing and hurrying to their seats. despite being by a main road, the theatre was surprisingly quiet.
the trademark of Philadelphia – an eye.
and here’s Hercules/Heracles, or what’s left of him. crouching, broken, in a shaded corner, almost embarrassed to be found at less than half his heyday glory.
and off we then rushed to Jerusalem, or so we thought. and that was the end of our 2nd day.