One Perfect Day in Amman, Jordan

Writer Annie Fitzsimmons recently returned from a 10-day cultural trip to Jordan. This is her third and final dispatch. Read her earlier posts here and here.

I couldn’t stop staring at the skyline of Amman, the capital city of Jordan, from my hotel room. It seemed ancient and utterly modern at the same time, an organized chaos with thousands of white limestone buildings, busy traffic circles, and small pockets of green trees.

Amman thrived at the crossroads of ancient civilizations for thousands of years and is now educating a worldly Jordanian citizen, some with Palestinian roots from their families that fled to Jordan as refugees after the 1948 and 1967 wars. Buildings touting logos like Microsoft, Deloitte, Apple, and Starbucks blend with run-down shacks in the souks and wafting smells of spices and falafel. A perfect day in Amman showcases the juxtaposition of old and new.

Breakfast at the Four Seasons Hotel Amman

The Four Seasons Hotel Amman is a stylish oasis, a central meeting point for business and leisure travelers alike. The international East-meets-West breakfast buffet serves pancakes, eggs, fruit, bagels, and American coffee alongside local delicacies like foul (simmered beans and spices), labaneh (soft cheese made with yogurt), black olives, falafel, halloumi cheese, Arabic bread, and Turkish coffee.

Royal Automobile Museum (Photo: Annie Fitzsimmons)

 

Royal Automobile Museum

I easily spent two hours at the Royal Automobile Museum, built by Jordan’s current King Abdullah II in honor of his father, the beloved King Hussein, who died in 1999 after a 47-year reign. King Hussein was obsessed with cars and amassed quite a collection in his lifetime. Car fanatics could spend much more time than I did studying the gleaming, limited-edition Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, and Rolls-Royce vehicles, as well as many motorcycles. The Range Rover used by King Hussein, Queen Elizabeth, and Prince Philip on their trip to Petra is also on display.

The Citadel (Photo: Annie Fitzsimmons)

 

The Citadel

On the highest hill in Amman sits the Citadel, an ancient fortress and site of Roman, Byzantine, and Umayyad ruins. The small National Archaeological Museum on-site displays ancient relics of daily life spanning centuries.

Lunch at Wild Jordan

“There’s a real trend for organic food in Jordan, along with flax seeds,” said the waiter at Wild Jordan. Flax seeds? Yes, there they were, adding crunch to my delicious lunch salad. Wild Jordan is partnered with the Royal Society for Conservation of Nature to help raise money for the cause. The cafe sources local, organic foods for salads and sandwiches. Floor-to-ceiling glass walls show off a stunning view of downtown Amman.

Shopping on Rainbow Street (Photo: Annie Fitzsimmons)

 

Explore Rainbow Street

Near Wild Jordan is the center of Amman’s social scene, Rainbow Street. Quiet during the day, there are souvenir shops, coffee shops, and bookstores to explore. At night, groups of friends spill out of bars and restaurants, eating at sidewalk tables, creating a lively evening buzz.

Jordan River Foundation

The Jordan River Foundation, established by Queen Rania in 1995 to empower women and children, aims to support local products from communities all over the country. I found that this was the best place to shop for authentic, high-quality items. The shop’s gorgeous pillows, jewelry, and blankets can add distinct global flair to any home.

The Gold Souk

Gold prices remain at all-time highs, and although at the gold souk you can negotiate, you won’t score bargain prices. I was told that many shoppers now purchase “Russian,” or imitation gold instead of real gold. But the real thing still shines brightly in the downtown gold souk.

Darat Al Funun Art Gallery (Photo: Annie Fitzsimmons)

 

Darat Al Funun Art Gallery: The Khalid Shoman Foundation

A highlight for me was discovering this “haven for knowledge and progress” for artists in central Amman. The Darat Al Funun Gallery is housed in three buildings built in the 1920s, established by the family of the late wealthy banker, Khalid Shoman. Local artists can use the library and tools and anyone can tour the rotating exhibitions, usually four per year. When I was there, the exhibit on display was a partnership between Darat Al Funun and London’s Tate Modern.

Dinner at Fakhr El-Din

One of the most popular restaurants in Amman for fun and fresh local Jordanian and Lebanese flavor, Fakhr El-Din offers over 120 items including traditional mezze, meat, fish and desserts. Dinner is especially nice al fresco on the terrace when the night air is cool.

Annie Fitzsimmons is a New York-based travel and hotel writer.  She is a frequent contributor to publications that share her love of exploration and discovery. Follow her adventures on Twitter at @anniefitz and on her personal blog, Hotel Belle.

[Jordan Guide]

 

Comments

  1. Alexander
    October 21, 2011, 1:27 pm

    beautiful columns on the 1st picture…find more, including the picture of metroline among an ancient temple at http://travel-europe-eu.blogspot.com/2011/09/greece-photogallery.html

  2. Andy
    New York
    October 21, 2011, 1:39 pm

    I need to plan my trip. This sounds awesome

  3. Terri
    California
    October 21, 2011, 4:31 pm

    If this doesn’t whet the appetite to visit Jordan, nothing will! It has something for everyone and should be added to everyone’s trip to the Middle East

  4. Vince Ellwood
    Plano, TX
    October 22, 2011, 2:21 pm

    You’ve convinced me to put Jordan on my bucket list. Thanks.

  5. Marcia
    Germany
    October 23, 2011, 3:34 am

    What a wonderful country! I think it’s a country you should visit! I think it would be my next travel country! Thanks for the information!

  6. Vahram
    Jordan
    October 23, 2011, 6:43 pm

    I live here, and just like how Ani described it. It’s an amazing country with lots of cultural, historical and entertaining places to visit. Definitely worths a visit, thanks to Ani (:

  7. Mais hawari
    Jordan- Irbid city
    October 29, 2011, 5:39 pm

    really Ani i love that some one visit Jordan, make me happy :D
    i wish that you visit jordan before to know you and to seeing you a very ordinary places but with a lot of uniqueness image..
    i agree with Vahram you make Jordan amazing, thanks :))

  8. Yazan
    Amman, Jordan
    November 10, 2011, 8:24 pm

    Well you well described and put into words what I love about Amman :)

  9. Rayya
    UK
    December 9, 2012, 6:47 am

    Nice article – Jordan is one of the most amazing holiday destinations with some of the most incredible antiquities – Jerash, Petra and the place Jesus was baptised amongst others!

  10. James
    Edinburgh
    December 9, 2012, 7:05 am

    Fantastic country, I took a 5 day trip there when I was working in Abu Dhabi and it felt so much more laid back and real after being in the UAE. Wadi Musa and Petra are also not to be missed!

  11. eman
    uae
    December 9, 2012, 8:29 am

    I am from jordan and l love my country . its very beautiful . Every one is welcome

  12. suriel
    Reynosa Tamaulipas
    December 10, 2012, 4:16 pm

    excellent pictures is a very beautiful landscape

  13. al omari
    jordan
    June 30, 2013, 5:49 am

    thanx for all pics and words about my lovely home jordan ,and thanx for all friends comment too