A northern town perched on top of a hill, Um Qais is home to the ancient Gadara ruins. Located right at the axis of Jordan’s borders with Palestine, Israel and Syria, you can enjoy the site’s stunning panoramic views of the Sea of Gallilee, the Golan Heights, and the Yarmouk River. You can take in the sights and then dine on the terrace of a fine restaurant with a breathtaking view.
Site of the famous miracle of the Gadarene swine, Gadara was renowned in its time as a cultural centre. It was the home of several classical poets and philosophers, including Theodorus, founder of a rhetorical school in Rome, and was once called “a new Athens” by a poet.
Umm Qays (Gadara), built using stunning black basalt stones, was one of the cities of the Decapolis, planned with a Roman city layout. The Ottoman village on top of part of the ancient city was acquired by the Department of Antiquities, who now has several excavation and conservation projects at the site, including the restoration of the main (west) theatre.
A 40-minute ride from Umm Qays, Pella is a favourite of archaeologists as it is exceptionally rich in antiquities, some of which are exceedingly old. Besides the excavated ruins from the Graeco-Roman period, including an Odeon (theater), Pella offers visitors the opportunity to see the remains of a Chalcolithic settlement from the 4th millennium BC, the remains of Bronze and Iron Age walled cities, Byzantine churches and houses, an Early Islamic residential quarter, and a small medieval mosque.