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Jordan’s modern capital encompasses the remains many of civilizations – Neolithic, Roman, Byzantine, Islamic, Umayyad and Ottoman, to name a few.

It was once known as Rabbath-Ammon, then Philadelphia, then Ammon and recently as Amman. The role of the area as a population center even reaches back to the prehistoric Pre-Pottery Neolithic age, when the remarkable plaster statues shown at the left were buried in the thriving prehistoric settlement known today as Ein-Ghazal. Thes wonderful figures, around 9,000 years old, are a fascinating reminder of man’s long history in the region.

The population of Amman in Jordan’s 2004 census was established as 2 million people. It only seems like that’s the number of cars on the streets!

Some of the many places you might visit in Amman are noted below.

* The Citadel offers a wealth of archaeological treasures –the UmayyadPalace, Byzantine Basilica, and Roman Temple of Hercules among others. Jordan’s small but jam-packed NationalArchaeologicalMuseum is also on the Citadel, the best place to get a terrific view of the bustling downtown souks.

* The RomanTheater is the most obvious and impressive relic of ancient Philadelphia. There are two museums next to the theater, the JordanFolkloreMuseum and the Museum of Popular Traditions.

 * King Hussein Mosque is the heart of modern downtown Amman. The Ottoman-style mosque was rebuilt in 1924 on the site of an ancient mosque, in itself probably the site of the Byzantine cathedral of Philadelphia.

* Shops packed with gold are between the King Hussein Mosque and the Citadel, in Amman’s famous gold souk. The tiny shop windows feature rows of glittering gold necklaces, bracelets and other jewelry.

* One of the best examples of modern Islamic architecture is the King Abdullah Mosque with its bright colors, big blue dome, big Islamic library and squares. It’s the most popular backdrop for TV crews reporting from Amman.

* The RoyalAutomobileMuseum—a marvelous collection of classic and modern cars, many of them once owned by members of the Royal Family.

* The newly-opened Interactive Children’s Museum can be fun for the whole family. Located in the KingHusseinPark in west Amman, the museum offers displays, games and learning experiences covering Jordan’s history, heritage and traditions.

As you would expect in a national capital, Amman has many restaurants featuring cuisines from around the world, coffee shops and internet cafes, night clubs, shopping areas and malls, cinemas and galleries. But as the national capital, with almost half the country’s population, the “bustle factor” is predictably high. A continual influx of refugees to quiet Jordan from more “lively” parts of the region have resulted in gridlock traffic and enormous construction projects all around the city. All things considered, Amman is more a gateway and business center than a leisure destination.