Following Amman hotel pickup, venture north by private vehicle to the town of Umm Qais, near the remnants of the Greco-Roman city of Gadara.
After about two hours, arrive at the hillside ruins, where the antiquities lie mingled with an abandoned, 19th-century Ottoman village. Join a local guide, and learn how Gadara was part of ancient Rome’s Decapolis league — a group of self-governing cities on the empire’s frontiers in the Middle East.
Admire the hillside views over the Jordan Valley, Sea of Galilee, and Golan Heights, and visit the on-site museum in the restored Ottoman governor’s palace. Then, take a guided tour, following a timeworn street to the 3,000-seater Roman Theater. Continue to the Byzantine-era Basilica with its octagonal altar, and walk down the main Cardo Maximus street, passing other monuments as your guide charts Gadara’s history, including its golden age in the 2nd century AD.
Next, drive to Pella, the remains of a Hellenistic city, and earlier and later settlements. First mentioned as ‘Pihilum’ or ‘Pehel’ by the Egyptians in the 19th century BC, Pella prospered when the Romans arrived, building temples, theaters, and baths. See the antiquities, some dating back more than 8,000 years, and then continue with your driver to Jerash, one of the best-preserved Roman cities in the Middle East.
On arrival, meet a local guide for a tour of the site, often called the ‘Pompeii of the East.’ Learn how the city was built by Alexander the Great in the 2nd century BC, and enter through the main gateway, Hadrian’s Arch, to explore. Admire the Oval Plaza and Colonnaded Street, and see temples, theaters, baths, fountains, and other semi-intact buildings as your guide shares nuggets about the city’s history.
After discovering the main sites here, conclude with a hotel drop-off in Amman.