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History of Amman

History of the city can be traced back to about 3500 BC, when Neolithic inhabitants settled in the caves on Citadel hill. Excavations revealed lots of  items that are now on display in the Archaeological Museum right next to the Neolithic caves. The city was called as Rabbath Ammon (or Rabat Amon) by the Ammonites and it is even mentioned in the Hebrew Bible.

Ptolemy II Philadelphus, king of Egypt rebuilt the city and it received a new name from him: Philadelphia. It became a part of the Nabataean kingdom until the Roman conquest in 106 AD when Philadelphia joined the Decapolis, a group of ten cities on the eastern border of the Roman Empire. Today these 10 cities are scattered among three countries: Jordan, Israel and Syria. The city - renamed as Amman - continued to flourish during the Ummayyads (7-8th century) as the extensive ruins of their mosque and palace indicates it. Finally it came to a decline around the 10th century probably because of the lack of water supply.

When King Abdullah I chose Amman as the capital of his newly established state in the 1920s, it was nothing more than a small village. Extensive construction works endangered Roman heritage as the new city was exactly built on the ruins. Although several buildings like the old Roman bridge in front of the Nyphaeum or the remains of the Propylaea of  the Temple of Hercules eternally disappeared, but most ancient monuments survived. The citadel has been turned into a large open-air museum and the carefully restored theatre with the Odeon at the foot of the hill still reflect this glorious period.

As Amman was fast uninhabited from medieval times, don't expect to visit 500 year old mosques, palaces or typical bazaars. However the boosting modern metropolis also contains precious little gems like the King Abdullah or Abu Darwish mosques.