A close second to Petra on the list of favorite destinations in Jordan, the ancient city of Jerash boasts an unbroken chain of human occupation dating back more than 6,500 years and is only about 45km north of Amman and because of its water the site has been settled at least since Neolithic times. The city's golden age came under Roman rule and the site is now generally acknowledged to be one of the best-preserved Roman provincial towns in the world and one of the Decapolis cities once named Gerasa. Hidden for centuries in sand before being excavated and restored over the past 70 years, Jerash reveals a fine example of the grand, formal provincial Roman urbanism that is found throughout the Middle East, comprising paved and colonnaded streets, soaring hilltop temples, grand theatres, spacious public squares and plazas, baths, fountains and city walls pierced by towers and gates. Beneath its external Graeco-Roman veneer, Jerash also preserves a subtle blend of east and west. Its architecture, religion and languages reflect a process by which two powerful cultures meshed and coexisted - The Graeco-Roman world of the Mediterranean basin and the ancient traditions of the Arab Orient.
Further up the Cardo Maximus, on the left is the monumental and richly-carved gateway of a 2nd century Roman Temple of Dionysus. In the 4th century the temple was rebuilt as a Byzantine church now referred to as the ‘Cathedral’ (although there is no evidence that it held more importance than any of the other churches). At the top of the stairs, against an outer East wall of the Cathedral is the shrine of St. Mary, with a painted inscription to Mary and the archangels Michael and Gabriel.
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Admission for the Jerash Archeological City is included in the Jordan Pass