We only had one full day to spend in Amman. We had just completed a fabulous trip through Jordan and returned to the capital the evening before we were to fly home. Our flight was not until quite late in the evening, so how to spend this one day in Amman?
A little research yielded the information we needed. What are the best places to visit in Amman and the top things to do? Before long we had our itinerary for the day.
Things to do in Amman
Google “things to do in Amman” and many of the suggestions are for actually leaving Amman and going to places like Petra or Jerash, but we had already explored these fabulous places and even if we hadn’t, we would not have had time to do so in one day. We wanted to explore the capital city itself. We decided on these four places to visit in Amman. This would be manageable in one day. As it turned out, we chose well and our one day in Amman was a day well spent. We really enjoyed it and felt we had seen Amman at its best.
The Royal Automobile Museum
The current King of Jordan, King Abdullah and the former King, King Hussein, were both avid car enthusiasts so it made sense that their car collection would be worth seeing for anyone remotely interested in cars. However, my main reason for visiting was to see the Mars Rover! A few days prior to our visit to Amman, we had spent time in Wadi Rum. It was a fascinating experience in a fabulous landscape, a landscape which is exactly how I imagine Mars must be. I am not the only one clearly, because among the many films which have been shot in Wadi Rum was The Martian, based on the book by Andy Weir and starring Matt Damon. I enjoyed both the book and the film. After filming had finished, the specially constructed Mars Rover was donated to the Royal Automobile Museum. That was all the reason I needed!
The Mars Rover is on display just outside the museum and visitors can wander all the way around it. Unfortunately, it is glassed in so it is not possible to actually clamber on board!
More treats awaited inside. After filming The Rise of Skywalker in Wadi Rum in 2019, the producers had donated the Star Wars Speeder to the museum.
Peter is a real car enthusiast and the other exhibits in the museum did not disappoint. There were fast cars, luxurious cars, iconic cars and historic cars – not to mention the downright quirky cars ( – and the odd mini submarine!).
I enjoyed the display, but switched off from Peter reeling off all the technical details about the various cars (and bikes!). Suffice it to say, that the museum has something for everyone, regardless of how much they are actually into cars!
The Jordan Museum
Our second museum of the day in Amman was the Jordan Museum and as in the Automobile Musuem, there was one particular exhibit I wanted to see: the Dead Sea Scrolls. We have all heard of the Dead Sea Scrolls and they hold a remarkable place in history, so it would be cool to actually see them for real. Most of the scrolls, originally discovered by a young shepherd boy in a cave near the Dead Sea in the middle of the 20th Century, are in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, but some of these ancient religious manuscripts are housed here in Jordan.
As is the case in many museums, photography of the actual exhibits is not allowed. This picture shows the entrance to the room where the Dead Sea Scrolls are exhibited. Most of the scrolls are made from papyrus or leather, but there is a very unusual copper scroll in the Jordan Museum.
The museum had many interesting exhibits dating back thousands of years and we enjoyed learning about the history of Jordan and seeing relics from the past.
Amman is a city of hills and Amman Citadel is built on one of these hills, Jabal al-Qual’a, overlooking the city. We walked up to the citadel from the downtown area and marvelled at the views across Amman.
From the citadel, it is also possible to see the Roman Amphitheatre. This dates back to the 2nd century AD and can accommodate thousands of spectators. It is still used for cultural performances today.
The Amman Citadel is a historic site dating back back to the Bronze Age and comprises many iconic landmarks from different periods of history. The most famous of these are perhaps:
The Temple of Hercules
The Temple of Hercules was built between 162 and 166 AD, during the reign of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius. The shrine was dedicated to mythical Greek hero, Hercules.
The Byzantine Church
The Byzantine Church was built during the 6th Century. Parts from the Temple of Hercules were reused in its construction, including the Corinthian capitals decorated with acanthus leaves.
The Umayyad Palace and Mosque
The Umayyad Palace, built in the 8th Century, is a large complex comprising several buildings. Some parts of the complex are in ruins, but others have been restored.
One of the highlights of visiting Amman was simply wandering around the streets and experiencing the vibes of the city. The souks and the street stalls all add to the atmosphere. Many of the streets are lined with vendors in makeshift stalls selling anything and everything. Spices? Lots! Fresh produce? Everywhere! Clothes? Whatever you fancy! Multi-coloured chicks or live rabbits? By the dozen!
Getting around Amman
As mentioned above, Amman is quite hilly and it is spread over a large area. In the downtown area, we walked everywhere, but to reach the more outlying areas such as the Royal Automobile Museum, we took a taxi or an Uber. This worked really well and the fares were not expensive.
Where to eat in Amman
Our guide from the tour had suggested a number of restaurants to our group for our last evening together. His first recommendation was for one of the oldest restaurants in Amman: Hashem Restaurant. He was fulsome in his praise for this eatery and it sounded as if it had character, so we decided to give it a go. They do not take bookings so when we arrived, a reasonably large party, the place was absolutely heaving and we did not think we would get a table.
We were wrong! One of our group enquired, wondering if space might become free at some point during the evening, but the waiter just waved us through into the restaurant. He led us through a maze of random spaces, all choc-a-bloc with diners, stretching back from the main street and then out on to a side street. It was here they just set up yet another table for us – out in the side street! This really was “street food”! Our table, like all the others in the restaurant was quickly covered, not with a table cloth, but with plastic cling film from a huge roll.
There was no menu. They just brought food for ten, plonked it on the table and we ate. The faire consisted of traditional Jordanian dishes. There was lots of variety and it was all very tasty so we tucked in. Meanwhile, the cars coming up the street just passed on by…
One day in Amman: final thoughts
Is it worth visiting Amman if you only have one day to explore? Yes! We managed to see quite a lot and really got a flavour of the city. I would have liked to spend more time wandering round the souks and perhaps visiting the famous Blue Mosque (King Abdullah 1 Mosque), but, given the time limit, I think we actually visited the top places in Amman. It was certainly a memorable visit and I am pleased we were able to spend this time exploring.
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