One of the ancient Decapolis trading cities, Jerash is one of the world’s best-preserved provincial Greco-Roman provincial cities. Its colonnaded streets, baths, theaters, plazas and arches remain in exceptional condition. Jerash is situated in the north of Jordan in the ancient region of Gilead, 45km north of Amman.
Recent excavations show that Jerash was inhabited during the Bronze Age and Iron Age (3200 BC-1200 BC). After the Roman conquest in 63 BC, Jerash and the land surrounding it was annexed by the Roman province of Syria. An impressive archway commemorates the visit of Emperor Hadrian to the site.
There are many striking monuments and structures to be seen: Hadrian’s Arch, the Hippodrome, the Temples of Zeus and Artemis, the oval Forum which is surrounded by a fine colonnade, a long colonnaded street, two theaters, two baths, stables and later Byzantine churches are all a part of the Jerash experience. Just remember–don’t whisper any secrets while you’re visiting the theaters in Jerash. These acoustically amazing structures will broadcast your whispers to the farthest row of seats!
While you’re visiting Jerash, be sure to allow time to enjoy the daily RACE performance. RACE (Roman Army and Chariot Experience) is currently offered twice daily at 11.00 and 14.00 except on Tuesdays (no show) and Fridays (afternoon performance only), although this schedule is subject to change. The creators have done a tremendous amount of research and training, and their re-enactments of Roman battle drill, gladiatorial contests and an exciting 7-lap chariot race are thrilling. It is wonderful to think that you can sit in the Jerash Hippodrome today and see the same sort of events which the Roman citizens of ancient Gerasa watched over 2,000 years ago.
From 1981 until 2002, the annual Jerash Festival of Culture and Arts offered summertime performances by artists and theatrical groups from around the world. The concept of this festival has been broadened into the Jordan Summer Festival, which features performances in the Jerash theaters, the Roman Amphitheater in Amman and at the Amman Citadel. A link to information on the upcoming summer event will be posted when it is available–this is usually pretty close to the event. Be aware, though, that if you are planning to travel visit during the summer, you may be able to attend one of the performances. The lion’s share of the events feature top Arabic musical acts, catering to both the local population and the summer influx of visitors from the Gulf States. Some top-flight entertainers from Europe and North American are also featured.