Jerash, an ancient city, second in destination choice only to Petra, boasts an unbroken history of human occupation dating well over 6,500 years. Jerash lays on a plain, surrounded by wooded hills and basins of rich, fertile soil.
Jerash was conquered by Pompey in 63 B.C. and consequently came to be under Roman rule. The city soon became one of the ten great cities of the Decapolis League. The Golden Age of Gerasa (which was what Jerash was known as during Roman rule) came under Roman rule. The city is now widely believed to be the one of the best preserved Roman towns in the world. It lay hidden from view for centuries under tons of sand, but over the last 70 years has been excavated, explored, and preserved. Jerash truly is an historical marvel.
Jerash is a unique blend of East and West. The Graeco-Roman façade crumbles away to reveal a new culture wherein the Mediterranean traditions meshed with and coexisted for many, many years with the traditions of the Arab-Orient. The languages, cultures, and architecture all display many signs of this coexistence and the region is all the richer for this development.
The modern-day Jerash is found to the East of the old ruins, and though the ruins and the modern city share a wall, care has been taken to see that no encroachment or destruction of the ancient ruins has occurred. There is a ten-gated Hippodrome in Jerash, where one can daily catch shows (for a ticket price) of a Roman Army Chariot Experience (RACE). The hippodrome is only one of the many historical buildings one can view in Jerash.
The Jerash Festival also draws in tourists and locals alike. The festival runs in July of each year, and offers concerts, ballet, theater, folk dances from around the world, handicrafts, and local foods from the region, all under the brightly floodlit ancient ruins of Jerash.
Jerash, believed by some to have been founded by Alexander the Great (or his General, Perdiccas) is a city of much blending, much turmoil, many occupiers, and a strong sense of melding of cultures. The historical significance of this city, as well as the beauty of its buildings and surroundings, make it a must-see while visiting Jordan.