A visit to the spectacular Roman ruins of Jerash immediately transports the visitor two thousand years back in time. The city’s many splendid monumental remains, still retain the atmosphere of the once thriving metropolis, famous in its own time for magnificent temples, amphitheaters, and plazas. From the buildings and the many other well preserved structures, it is easy to imagine the city in its heyday: Down the colonnaded streets, chariots would have trundled, their wheels etching ever deeper the already well-worn grooves.
The little shops that line the streets would have stocked exotic goods brought in from Persia, and Egypt, and the bustle of the city would have been punctuated by other sounds; the gentle splash of water flowing from the fountains of the Nymphaeum; The tapping of builders and masons at work; and the occasional roar of a satisfied crowd being entertained in the amphitheaters. Although now in ruins the spirit of Roman Gerasa lives on
The city’s golden age came under Roman rule and the site is now generally acknowledged to be one of the best-preserved Roman provincial towns in the world. Hidden for centuries in sand before being excavated and restored over the past 70 years, Jerash reveals a fine example of the grand, formal provincial Roman urbanism that is found throughout the Middle East, comprising paved and colonnaded streets, soaring hilltop temples, handsome theatres, spacious public squares and plazas, baths, fountains and city walls pierced by towers and gates.
Beneath its external Graeco – Roman veneer, Jerash also preserves a subtle blend of east and west. Its architecture, religion and languages reflect a process by which two powerful cultures meshed and coexisted, The Graeco – Roman world of the Mediterranean basin and the ancient traditions of the Arab Orient.
The Jerash festival, held in July every year, transforms the ancient city into one of the world’s liveliest and most spectacular culture events. The festival features folklore dances by local and international groups, ballet, concerts, plays, opera, popular singers and sales of traditional handicrafts, all in the brilliantly floodlit dramatic surroundings of the Jerash ruins.