Citadel: a fortress that provides security and protection for a city.
The citadel is on top of the center peak. At its base is a narrow valley, and on the other side of the valley are a series of additional steep hills on which the city is built.That means that the 360 degree view from the top of the citadel is of hills that are almost as steep and high as the citadel itself.
On a distant hillside we could see the Raghadan Flagpole, which is planted at the compound used as the royal residence by King Abdullah I and King Hussein, although not by the current king. At 416 feet tall, it was the tallest free-standing flagpole in the world when it was erected in 2003. The flag is 200 x 100 feet, or about two-thirds the size of a football field. These days the Raghadan Flagpole is only the 7th tallest flagpole in the world, far behind Saudi Arabia's 558-foot-tall flagpole in Jeddah.
Between these ancient stone walls and that modern city lies a deep crevasse:
This photo is the best I have of the rocky cliffs that drop from the top of the citadel to the valley:
Acropolis in Athens where the New Age musician Yanni has performed:
I have to give another shout-out for our guide Isam, who rejoined us for this, our last day in Jordan. (The rest of our large group had flown out the previous night.) He has a deep knowledge of the history and culture of Jordan. I can't imagine a better guide. He started our exploration of the Citadel at these stelae that give the dates of the various civilizations that have inhabited this area since the Neolithic period in 5500 BC. After the Neolithic Period came the Chalcolithic Period, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Persian Era, Hellenistic Period, Nabataean Period (Petra), Romans (during which time it was called Philadelphia), Byzantines . . .
The list of civilizations reads like a Who's Who of World History.
The Citadel is an open air museum, pieces of various civilizations and time periods scattered over the hill like sprinkles on a cupcake. Turn to the right at it's the Byzantine Era; turn to the left and it's the Umayyads. Sometimes the cultures are mixed together in a way that makes them indistinguishable from one another. Often the later groups dismantled structures built by earlier groups and used the parts to build their own edifices. Talk about a melting pot!
There are several distinct structures Isam wanted to make sure we saw, beginning with the water system. Where I grew up, we are so proud that our ancestors developed irrigation systems that would harness the abundant mountain water for our crops. In contrast, the Citadel had no such source of water, not even a tiny natural spring, so the people had to depend on the careful collection and storage of every drop of water that fell from the sky. Sophisticated underground stone channels transported and recycled the water. Like everything else, the water system has been rebuilt many times by the various civilizations that occupied this space. This gargantuan cistern dates to 730 AD in the Umayyad Period:
Our next stop was the Temple of Hercules. Although nothing like what we had seen in Jerash a few days earlier, it was still very impressive:
Built in 161-166 AD, about the same time as the amphitheater discussed earlier, it once looked like this model:
|Photo from Wikipedia|
Only two pieces of that symbol of strength survived, and they lie broken on the ground:
Everywhere we went on this trip had beautiful flowers. Ah, the benefits of spring travel!
Our next stop was a Byzantine Church, c. 550 AD. The builders of this church "borrowed" some of the Corinthian capitals decorated with acanthus leaves from the Temple of Hercules:
I love the views from windows. Look carefully and you'll see an airplane through the first window. The second window could be looking out at the blue sky of any of the last dozen or more centuries:
Information on site showed what the left window above looked like prior to the restoration process:
Many residential units have been excavated at the Citadel. These housed those involved in government activities:
|Photo from here|