Sunday, May 27, 2012

#982 Jerash (Gerasa), Jordan

If you needed to learn as much as you could about the Romans from visiting just one of their ancient cities, Jerash would be a good pick. Buried under soil for centuries, it is among the largest, best-preserved cities. Originally a neolithic then a Bronze Age settlement, it was a Greek city before becoming part of the Roman province of Arabia, one of the Decapolis. It reached a height of approximately 800,000 inhabitants and began its decline with a Persian invasion in 614, followed by a major earthquake a century later.

What's amazing is the quantity and different types of structures that were in Jerash. You can see the impressive colonnaded Oval Forum above with the main road leading out behind it. Jerash also has a large hippodrome (circular racing track), two large temples to Zeus and Artemis (turned into a fortress during the crusades), and two theatres, which are so intact as to still be quite usable.There is also large archway dedicated to Hadrian, the Corinthium column, two baths, small temples, more than 13 churches, one of which was built above a synogogue, an almost complete circle of city walls,

The hippodrome.

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