Saturday, 9 July 2011

Ruins, gladiators and chariots

Our next stop was the Roman city of Jerash, one of the better preserved Roman sites outside of Italy. Getting there was a bit of an adventure, as we took a wrong turning outside of Amman and ended up driving through the capital, desperately attempting to understand the road signs in heavy traffic and get back on track. As usual, some helpful and kind locals tried to show us the way, and after an unexpected half hour detour we were heading in the right direction.

Jerash is an incredibly interesting place, and well worth a day trip. Located right smack in the middle of a busy town, it really highlights the juxtaposition between the old and new, and the buildings, temples and theatres are in excellent condition. Yet again, because of the on-going neighbouring troubles, the site was quiet, and we wandered happily amongst the white structures. The whole site can easily be explored in a day, and the free guide leaflet available contained a clear map and snippets of information about each major area.

The real highlight of the day, I have to admit, was the wonderful Roman army and gladiator demonstration, complete with chariot racing, performed twice a day. Members of the Jordanian army, fully dressed in Roman uniforms and gladiator garb, marched and fought for us, as a distant loudspeaker voice explained tactics. The chariot race was fantastic – dust and dirt kicked up in the chariots’ wake, and yells echoed from the drivers. The children in the audience enjoyed it the most; it was an excellent basic educational experience for kids, and a second dose of cheesy entertainment for us! Being able to have my photo taken in the chariot afterwards was just the icing on the cake…

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