Amman tours and excursions
If it wasn't for Petra, the Dead Sea would be Jordan's most alluring attraction. At 400m (1,312ft) below sea level, this incredible lake in the Great Rift Valley is actually the lowest point on earth. It's famed for two things: the therapeutic qualities of its mud and water (which are proven to help soothe skin disease), and its natural buoyancy. Less than an hour from Amman by car, the Amman Touristic Beach offers affordable access and has good showers, restaurants and plenty of parasols. Alternatively, the exclusive spa resorts charge a little more but have that 5-star feel about them. Wear modest swimwear.Tel: +962 5 356 0804.
A 240km (149 mile) drive from Amman is Petra, the jewel in the crown of Jordan's antiquities and the country's top attraction. As one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and a UNESCO World Heritage site, Petra is one of the great sights of the Middle East. This city was carved straight into solid rock and it unfolds grandly after a 2km (1.2-mile) walk through a very narrow chasm, which adds to its mystery and grandeur. Built during the 5th and 6th centuries BCE, Petra is the ruined capital of the Nabatean Arabs. Its immense facades were lost for almost 1,000 years until they were rediscovered by the Swiss traveller Johan Ludwig Burckhardt in 1812.
Today, there are still many sites to see including the el Khazneh (The Treasury) monument, which is a giant tomb carved out of rock, the Temple of the Winged Lions, the al-Deir (Monastery) and the small Archaeological Museum, which displays artefacts found at Petra during the 19th and 20th centuries.Tel: +962 3 215 7093.
Famed for its Byzantine mosaic map of the Middle East, Madaba is a 42km (26 mile) drive from Amman. The mosaic, preserved in the Greek Orthodox Basilica of Saint George, is made from 2 million coloured stones that depict the hills, valleys, villages and towns in Palestine and the Nile Delta. A further 10km (6 miles) away is Mount Nebo where Moses was said to have seen the Promised Land before dying and being buried in an unmarked grave. Also worth visiting in this area is Bethany Beyond the Jordan, where Jesus was said to have been baptised by John.Tel: +962 5 325 2639.
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