Umm Qays, historically known as Gadara, sits perched upon a breathtaking hilltop overlooking the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan Valley. Once a major cultural center, Gadara, or Um Qays was once called the “new Athens’ by many. Umm Qays was home to many classical poets and philosophers, including Theodorus, who founded one of the major rhetorical schools in Rome. Cultural pursuits flourished here, and their effects can still be seen in the architecture, and experienced in the history of the area.
“The Miracle of the Gadarene Swine” occurred here. Jesus and his followers were traveling one day, when they came across two men who were wild in appearance and quite disheveled. Jesus and his followers believed that the men were being possessed by evil spirits, and so Jesus performed an exorcism. The evil spirits were transferred to a herd of swine, who then (according to Matthew the Evangelist) “went running wild into the sea where they perished.” Umm Qays being the site of this miracle is only one of the reasons you should visit when you travel in Jordan.
Another reason to visit Um Qays is the Al- Himma therapeutic hot springs, located approximately 10 KM north of Um Qays. There are two bathing facilities, a privately run club, and a public bath. The public bath has two different timetables—one for men, and one for women. These hot springs were revered by the Romans for their healing powers, and are host today still for many who seek the healing properties of the mineral rich waters of the Al-Himma hot springs.
The climate is perfect for travel most any time of the year in Jordan, but the summer can be too hot for some, so plan accordingly, and make sure to plan a leisurely visit to Um Qays and nearby Al-Himma hot springs. You won’t be sorry!