Jordan Destinations Travel Guide

Flag of Jordan

Language: Arabic, English

Currency: Jordanian dinar (JOD)

Calling Code: 962


Jordan (Arabic: الأردن Al-'Urdunn), officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (Arabic: المملكة الأردنية الهاشمية Al-Mamlakah al-Urdunīyah al-Hāshimīyah), called Transjordania until 1950 is an Asian country located in the Middle East. It limits to the North with Syria, to the northeast with Iraq, to ​​the east and the south with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to the southwest with the Red Sea (in the Gulf of Aqaba), and to the west with the Dead Sea, Israel and Palestine. Its capital and most populated city is Amman.

The kingdom was created following the division of the region carried out by France and the United Kingdom after the First World War. In 1946 Jordan became a sovereign and independent state with the initial name of Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordania. After the capture of the West Bank during the Arab-Israeli War of 1948, Abdullah I took the title of King of Jordan and Palestine.


Travel Destination in Jordan

Ajloun Governorate

Ajloun Castle or Ajlun Castle is located 50 km (31 mi) West of Amman in Jordan. This magnificent medieval stronghold is one of the best preserved fortresses in Jordan from the time of Crusades.

Dibeen Forest Reserve is located North- south of Jerash in Jordan. Dibeen Forest Reserve covers an area of 8.5 km2 (3.3 mi2).

Mount of Elijah or Tell Mar Elias is a famous site where ancient Jewish prophet Elijah lived for several years. According to a Bible he was fed by ravens who brought him bread.


Aqaba Governorate

Aqaba is a town in Jordan. It is famous for its medieval fortress that survived centuries of neglect. Aqaba is also famous as a magnificent diving site.

Wadi Rum or The Valley of the Moon is famous for alien landscapes and ancient rock art that was left thousands of years ago by people who either lived here or passed the moon like surface of Wadi Rum.

Wadi Araba or just Araba is a picturesque valley in desert Wadi Rum, the driest and largest desert in Jordan.


Balqa Governorate

Bethabara is also occasionally referred to as Bethany beyond the Jordan as opposed to Bethany near Jerusalem where Lazarus was resurrected by Jesus Christ.


Capital (or Amman) Governorate

Amman Although the new parts of the city provide all the comforts of the civilization it is usually the old part of Amman or Philadelphia that draws tourists, in particular the area of the city known as citadel.

Ashab al- Kahf or "cave of the sleeping" in Arabic is a legendary underground tomb in the South suburbs of Jordanian capital of Amman.

Qasr al Abd or Castle of the Slave is an ancient site most famous for an elaborate private residence of the governor of Jordan.

Umm ar- Rasas is particularly famous for Byzantine Christian churches that were built here in the late Antiquity and early Medieval Period.


Irbid Governorate

Irbid is an ancient town in Jordan. It is famous for several layers of various civilization that left rich archeological record of its extended history.

Pella or Tabaqat Fahl as it is known today is an ancient settlement 130 km North of Amman in North- West in Jordan. It was part of the Decapolis cities.

Umm Qais or "Mother of Qais" in Arabic is an ancient city in the Irbid Governorate in North- West Jordan. In the ancient times it was known as Gadara.


Jerash Governorate

Jerash is an ancient Roman archaeological site situated in Jerash Governorate of Jordan. It is second most visited tourist destination in the country after Petra.


Karak Governorate

Karak Castle was designed to protect the lands of Holy Land from the Muslim armies. In the movie “The Kingdom of Heaven” (2005) Karnak Castle was attacked by the armies of Saladin.

 Lot's Cave is a religious  complex built around natural cave. It is allegedly the same cave that was visited by Lot and his two daughters who came here after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.


Ma'an Governorate

Montreal (Shobak) Castle was built in 1115 by the orders of king Baldwin I of Jerusalem to secure newly conquered lands in modern day Jordan including port city of Aqaba.

Moses Springs at Wadi Musa is a historic water source at the entrance to the town of Wadi Musa. According to legend Moses passed through these lands from Egypt to Canaan.

Petra or Rekem as is it was known to the ancients is a former capital of the Nabateaeans who rules these lands in the third century BC. It became famous as a setting place of one of the Indiana Jones movies.

Siq al- Berid is a historic archeological site that was open to the public fairly recently. It is nicknamed Little Petra due to its similar appearance and architecture.


Madaba Governorate

Madaba Karak Castle was designed to protect the lands of Holy Land from the Muslim armies. In the movie “The Kingdom of Heaven” (2005) Karnak Castle was attacked by the armies of Saladin.

Machaerus Palace is a fortified palace constructed on top of a strategic hill  by the Jewish king Alexander Jannaeus. Saint John the Baptist was imprisoned and later executed within its walls.

Main Hot Waterfalls is a unique natural health resort situated 30 km from the city of Madaba. It named after natural hot springs and waterfalls that emerge from the ground in this area.

Mount Nebo in Jordan is an alleged burial site of Moses and a resting place of Ark of the Covenant. From here Moses saw the Promised Land and died.

Mujib Nature Reserve is a protected area of picturesque canyon Wadi Mujib. Natural reserve was established in 1987 to protect one of few natural sources of water that flows to the Dead Sea.


Tafilah Governorate

Dana Nature Reserve covers an area of 308 km2 (119 mi2) of preserved biosphere that looks more like a majestic moon surface appearance.


Zarqa Governorate

Azraq Wetland Park is a nature reserve situated near a town of Azraq in the Zarqa Governorate in Jordan. Azraq Wetland Park covers an area of 12 km2 (4.6 sq mi) that protect wetlands and its wildlife.

Qasr Amra or Quseir Amra is located in Zarqa Governorate in Jordan. Qasr Amra was constructed in 711- 715 AD by Umayyad caliph Walid I to support his power in the region.

Qasr Azraq or Blue Fortress is a ruined medieval stronghold located 100 km (62 miles) East of Amman in Jordan.

Qasr Kharana was constructed in 710 AD by Caliph Walid I. Although it is referred as a "castle" there is no single agreement on the purpose of the structure.


Origin of name

There is no consensus among scientists about the origin of the name of the river. The stem "Yar", distinguished in the names of several rivers in the region (Yarkon, Yarmuk), with the presumed meaning "river", may be inherited by Hebrew from an ancient Semitic or even pre-Semitic substrate; there is also a hypothetical possibility to connect this basis with the Hebrew name of the Nile, other Heb. יאר‎, “Yeor.” There is a widespread point of view about the origin of the name of other Hebrew. ירדן‎, "Yarden" - from the common Semitic root "yarad" ("to descend", "to fall"). There is a version that raises the name to the tribe of Dan, in whose inheritance one of the sources of the Jordan is located. Other variants of etymology from the Semitic languages ​​are also proposed: “ditch”, “make noise”, etc.

This name is mentioned as Jrdn in ancient Egyptian papyri of the 10th century BC, Yardon in the XIII century BC. (Papyrus Anastasi I), found in the Akkadian tablets of the Amarna archive of the 14th century BC.

Some researchers (for example, V.V. Ivanov) make assumptions about the Indo-European origin of the name of the river. It could have been preserved from the Indo-Iranians, or rather, the "peoples of the sea" (in particular, the Philistines), who lived here at one time. Supporters of this version in the second part of the hydronym distinguish the Indo-European root *danu (“moisture, water, river”), which is present in the names of the rivers Danube, Dnieper, Don, etc.



The length of the Jordan is 252 km, according to other sources - 223 km; the catchment area is about 18,000 km². The average slope is 1.85 m / km, in the section from Lake Hula to Lake Tiberias - 17.6 m / km. The river is not navigable throughout.

The Jordan originates 14 km north of Lake Hula, not far from Kibbutz Sde Nehemia. It is formed by the confluence of three rivers - El-Hasbani (Hatsbani, Snir), Baniasi (Hermon) and Liddani (Dan), flowing from the slopes of Mount Hermon and making up 77% of the waters of the Jordan basin. Further, the river flows in a direction from north to south to the very mouth.

Downstream of the Sde Nehemia, the Jordan splits into two canals, which join again after a few kilometers. The canals were dug between 1950 and 1958 as part of a project to drain the Hula Lake Valley. From the place of their connection there is a canal to the Bridge of the Daughters of Jacob (Hebrew גשר בנות יעקוב‏‎ - gesher Bnot-Yaakov). From here, the Jordan flows in its natural course, passing along the bottom of the basalt gorge, until it flows into the Lake of Tiberias (the Hebrew name is Lake Kinneret). In Hebrew, this section of the river is called Yarden a-Harari (literally - "Mountain Jordan"). Here the river has the greatest slope - 17.6 m/km. There are several rapids along the gorge, which attracts water tourists.

After exiting the gorge, the Jordan flows into Lake Tiberias (Lake Kinneret) - the largest natural reservoir in Israel. The area of ​​the lake is about 170 km², the volume is about 4 billion m³. The water of the lake is brackish due to the large number of mineral springs along its shores, however, it is drinkable. In the northwest, a pipe of the all-Israeli water supply system is immersed in the lake - through it water from the lake enters the densely populated central and waterless southern parts of the country. The level of Lake Tiberias varies from year to year between 211 and 215 m below sea level.

Further, the river flows through the Jordan Valley, located between Lake Tiberias and the Dead Sea. The Jordan Valley, together with the Arava Valley, is part of the Syrian-African tectonic rift, which stretches from Syria to East Africa. Here the river bed becomes very winding, and the banks are high, in some places sheer. The width of the river reaches forty meters. In winter, during high water, the river washes away the banks, and this sometimes leads to landslides that create serious obstacles to the water flow. In this section, several rivers flow into the Jordan, the largest of which are Yarmuk and Seil ez-Zarqa, or Yabbok (left tributaries), and Harod (right tributary).

Approximately 100 km south of Lake Tiberias, the Jordan flows into the Dead Sea, one of the most saline lakes in the world. The Dead Sea coast is the lowest part of the earth's surface (420 m below sea level, and continues to decline). In the past, the Jordan annually brought about 1300 million m³ of water to the Dead Sea (which accounted for about 66% of the total water inflow into the sea), currently this figure has decreased to 20-200 million m³ (80%).

The rivers whose confluence forms the Jordan:
on right
El-Hasbani (Hatsbani, Snir) - flows down from the Lebanese part of Mount Hermon. Attempts by the Lebanese government to block the river in order to use a significant part of its waters for economic purposes more than once led to friction in Lebanese-Israeli relations.

Baniasi (Hermon, Banias) merges with Liddani (Dan), after which the watercourse receives a small river on the right - Koruni.
The largest tributaries in the area between Lake Tiberias and the Dead Sea:
Yarmouk separates Jordan from Syria and the Golan Heights.
Seil ez-Zarqa (Yabbok)

A significant part of the waters of these rivers is used by Israel and Jordan for economic purposes, because of this, their modern annual flow is less than natural. For example, for Jordan, this figure should be 1.2-1.3 billion m³ per year. Currently, the states are making joint efforts aimed at restoring the river as part of the Middle East peace process.


References in the Bible

In the Old Testament
The Jordan is repeatedly mentioned in the Old Testament as a place of various events, including miraculous ones. The Jordan was the boundary of the Promised Land. The first miracle happened when the Israelites with the Ark of the Covenant crossed the Jordan on dry land under the leadership of Joshua, opposite Jericho (Joshua 3:15-17). Later, the two and a half tribes of Israel who settled east of the Jordan built a large altar on its banks as a "witness" between them and the other tribes (Josh. 22:10-34). The Jordan was crossed on dry land by the prophets Elijah (2 Kings 2:8) and Elisha (2 Kings 2:14). Elisha miraculously healed Naaman, commanding him to bathe in the river (2 Kings 5:8-14), and in addition, made the ax of one of the "sons of the prophets" float by throwing a piece of wood into the water (2 Kings 6:1- 7).

In the New Testament
According to the New Testament, Jesus Christ was baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist.

Archaeological sites near the Jordan River
In the Jordan River area there are a large number of archaeological sites dating from various eras, from the early Paleolithic to the era of the Crusades. Below are the most significant of them:
Tel Kedesh is a hill to the west of Lake Hula. Remains of the ancient city of the Levites and the Roman temple of Apollo.
Tel Hazor is the largest tell in Israel. It is located 6 km north of Rosh Pinna and about 8 km west of the Bnot Yaakov bridge on the Jordan. It is located on the site of the ancient Canaanite city of Hatzor. Excavations are currently ongoing.
Katzrin - the remains of an ancient city of the Talmud era, not far from the eponymous Katzrin - the administrative center of the Golan Heights.
Bethsaida - the ruins of the city, located east of the Jordan at its confluence with Lake Tiberias.
Korazim is an ancient city 3.5 km north of Capernaum. Now it is an architectural and archaeological reserve.
Capernaum is an ancient city on the northwestern coast of Lake Tiberias.
Beth Yerach - not far from the place where the Jordan flows out of Lake Tiberias.
Ubaidiya is a tell, an archaeological site of the Pleistocene era. It is located 3 km south of Lake Tiberias.
Belvoir is a Crusader fortress in the Kochav-a-Yarden National Park. It is located 20 km south of Lake Tiberias, on the Naftali plateau at an altitude of 500 meters above the Jordan Valley.
Scythopolis is a national park at the site of excavations near modern Beit Shean.
Alexandrion - the ruins of a fortress from the Hasmonean dynasty.
Armon Hisham - the ruins of the palace of Caliph Hisham, destroyed by an earthquake in 747, north of the modern city of Jericho.
Tell es-Sultan[en] (Hebrew תל יריחו‏‎ Tel Jericho) are the ruins of ancient Jericho, one of the oldest cities on Earth, east of the modern city of the same name.
Qumran National Park is a reconstructed ancient city that represented the center of the Essenes sect two thousand years ago.