Jebel al-Qal’a, Citadel Hill in Amman


Temple of Hercules, Citadel Hill

We finally made it to Citadel Hill! This was our second attempt (after getting horribly lost the last time) in one month. It was no easy feat either; we had to go through City Center, the flea market area, which was more happening than normal. I saw fake Louis Vuitton’s on the street too, if anyone’s interested.

Citadel Hill, or Jebel al-Qal’a has been a happening place since the Paleolithic Age (that’s 18,000 years in case you don’t know your ages–I had to look it up). When the Romans moved in, they cleared away previous civilizations by chucking stuff over the hills, leaving heaps of archaeological booty. The two main features of the Citadel include the Temple of Hercules and the Umayyad Palace.

Temple of Hercules

The Temple of Hercules was built around the same time as the Roman Theater (across the hill). Remember when that was? Didn’t you read my post? [It was built between 169 and 177 AD]. The columns were re-erected in 1993 and lead to the inner sanctum (a.k.a. the cella). Within the inner sanctum, there’s a patch of bare, exposed rock believed to be ‘sacred rock’ that formed the centerpiece of the 9th century BC Ammonite Temple of Milcom. The dedication to Hercules isn’t really known, but due to the large amount of coins with images of Hercules, they believe it’s all in his honor.

Temple of Hercules
Roman Theater across the way
You can see how massive the columns are in relation to me.

Yoga Graffiti!

No trip to ruins would be complete without a few yoga graffiti poses to which I have to thank Raj, the photographer. Don’t think I’m the only obnoxious  yogi who does this either! As it turns out, there was a guy traveling alone who asked us if we could take a few pictures of him meditating, which we gladly did. He’s a yoga instructor from Mexico.

Scorpion on the "sacred rock" of the Ammonite Temple

The Umayyad Palace

Beyond the Temple of Hercules are the ruins of a small Byzantine church, in front of which stands the Umayyad Palace. The palace was built over the remains of a pre-existing Byzantine building, which is why it’s in the shape of a cross. There’s a dome on top of the palace, which is rife with controversy as to whether or not it’s historically accurate or if there ever was a dome on top. The interior of the palace is massive, much more so than you would expect from the exterior. As you exit the palace on the other side, opposite the entrance, you walk through a colonnaded street that leads to what are believed to have been administrative offices.

Small ruins of Byzantine church
The Umayyad Palace
Interior of Umayyad Palace
Opposite entrance of Umayyad Palace

There’s a museum up here as well that houses a collection of interesting artifacts found on the the site of Citadel Hill.  I found  these ‘pod’ shaped coffins to be the highlight of the collection. I’ve never seen anything like them. They’re constructed of pottery and remind me of the pods from the movie Cocoon. Remember that movie? It was horrible, but I think they stole the idea from these pods.

Cocoons
Jen Maan in Amman

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8 thoughts on “Jebel al-Qal’a, Citadel Hill in Amman

  1. Wow, a lot of great pictures from this adventure. Those anthropod coffins are very interesting! A bit more biodegradable than the ones we stick in the ground. (Why I’m one of those go-cremation people.) Amazing they are still intact; they must be so delicate after all these years. Love the Scorpion pose, also, as I’ve never seen that. I know very little yoga so I’m amazed at these positions the advanced yogi can get themselves into, relying so much on the upper body strength!

    1. Surprisingly, arm balances are more core strength than anything. I have very little upper body strength and almost no flexibility (in the real pose you’re supposed to place your feet on your head–that’s never going to happen!).

  2. You are really making some memories that will last a lifetime and you make these places come to life for the folks that are reading your blog.. I love the way you toss in your yoga stuff.. Keep on trucking…

  3. Those pods don’t look like cocoons but something else that I won’t name. Did you photoshop your waist or are you just wasting away over there? Again, it looks like you had to fight the hoards of summer tourists to see the ruins. You might be able to pull a Barbara thing (from SC). Remember the South American artifacts that she was able to take as souvenirs of her travels? We were horrified that the objects should have been in a museum. Who would notice if you pulled off a little bit of a lintel or a column? They probably sell black market artifacts at the flea market. You could start your own museum collection. Look into this. JUST KIDDING!!

    1. After my first iftar last night, I’m NOT wasting away, but adding girth. There were probably about five people total there and this was on a Friday (which is like Saturday). I thought I’d just go and set up my own excavation on the hill since there’s got to be lots of treasure just waiting to be found.

  4. Your photos are beautiful. While looking at the background in all of the pictures, I noticed all the houses are of the same color. Is color frowned upon or are houses just left the color of concrete? Is this what color your house is?
    I like your scorpion, yoga pose. You and Raj are storing up a lot of
    memories. Enjoy all of the travel while you can.

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