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Amman History

One of the world’s youngest cities, Amman was little more than a village when the Emirate of Transjordan was created following the Great Arab Revolt of WWI. Then, in 1928, the King of Jordan made it his capital.

A few isolated remains of previous settlements can be found among the modern buildings, including traces of Stone Age homes dating from 7000 BCE.

The Roman Theatre attests to the Empire’s presence in the area, when a city named Philadelphia existed close to where Amman now stands. The name, incidentally, came from Egypt’s King Ptolemy II Philadelphus who conquered the city in 285 BCE and named it after itself.

Since then, the city has also been occupied by the Seleucids, Nabateans and Byzantines. In the books of the Old Testament, Amman is mentioned as the capital of the Ammonites. Rabbath-Ammon was where the Israeli King David had Uriah the Hittite killed in battle so he could marry his wife.

The Arab general Yazid ibn Abi Sufyan took the city in 635, but by 1300 it had all but vanished, stumping historians as to the reason why. The Hejaz Railway, which began running in 1908, literally put Amman back on the map. As a stop on the newly installed network, people were drawn to the city and its population grew from around 2,000 to 33,000 in just 40 years.

In 1970, the city saw heavy fighting and shelling during Black September, the Jordanian Civil War between the Jordanian Armed Forces and Palestine Liberation Organisation. But in the years that followed the conflict, the modern city that exists today began to take shape. Queen Alia International Airport was built in 1983, King Abdullah Stadium opened 15 years later, and by 1999, the Amman Stock Exchange had started trading.

Despite its impressive growth, the city’s recent history hasn’t been without challenges, not least in 2005 when terrorist bombings at three hotels left 60 dead, 115 injured and a nation in shock. Nevertheless, modern Amman is a place that remains as scintillating as it was during the years when it was known to the world as Philadelphia.

Did you know?
• Amman’s Roman Theatre was built facing north to keep the sun off the audience.
• The Royal Automobile Museum still houses King Hussein’s Amphicar (a hybrid of a car and boat), which he used to drive in the Red Sea.
• The Hejaz Railway was primarily built to make the pilgrimage to Mecca easier for Muslims.

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Corp Amman Hotel

Located opposite the Royal Cultural Centre, the Corp Amman Hotel has 108 rooms, so if there's nothing on across the road, it opens up ample bargaining opportunities for nabbing a knocked down price. Sleeping quarters approach apartment sizes, and each comes with a large TV, free Wi-Fi and soundproofed windows. The small gym and swimming pool is enough to keep guests primed during their stay, while the rooftop lounge is best at dusk.

Four Seasons Hotel Amman

Undoubtedly the city's most luxurious hotel, the Four Seasons knows its place as it sits atop the highest of the Amman's Jabels (hills). Naturally, the hotel's signature service, beds and ambience are otherworldly, but you can't put a price on its wonderful views. Dead Sea mud treatments and salt scrubs are available in its spa and its run of excellent onsite restaurants might mean you don't eat anywhere else.

The Amman Pasha Hotel

Look past the floral bedspreads, and rise above the dodgy water pressure, and The Amman Pasha Hotel is a bit of a bargain. Leaning towards the hostel side of accommodation, rooms are clean and staff are friendly, and there’s a lovely roof terrace. The quirky café is adorned with stained glass windows, and Arabian carpets and onsite cooking classes are worth a few hours of your time. Toss up between rooms with views of the Roman Theatre or those away from the hubbub of the road outside. Breakfast is included.

ibis Amman

With a solid stamp of standardisation, ibis Amman works hard to provide perennial hotel needs: quiet rooms, decent beds and clean bathrooms. The location is central enough, while Wi-Fi and breakfast is included as part of the deal. Funky, Ikea-like furniture adorns the public spaces and staff are super helpful.

Toledo Hotel

Modern with a hint of faux-Moorish architecture, this moderately priced, 4-star hotel combines a great location with tasteful decoration and air-conditioned bliss. Under the shadows of some 5-star stalwarts, Toledo Hotel offers decent room dimensions, a restaurant that marries East and West, plus a spa with a lap pool, Jacuzzi, steam room and sauna.

Crowne Plaza Hotel Amman

At Crowne Plaza hotel, you can overlook the white city of Amman. International fast food restaurants, the main shopping area of Sweifiyeh, and the popular Gold Souk of Um Utheina are within walking distance. This 5 star hotel is an acclaimed destination for business trips, family visits and even solo travels to Jordan.