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.
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.
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.
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.