Home TourismBiblical Sites Jerash, Jordan | An Ancient City with a Complicated Past

Jerash, Jordan | An Ancient City with a Complicated Past

by Mackenzie Landi
Jerash, Jordan | An Ancient City with a Complicated Past

Jerash, Jordan, a desirable destination for pilgrims of all faiths, has a complex storied past—owing, in part, to a continual wave of conquerors almost as long as the ancient trade route it was once located alongside—The King’s Highway. The infamous highway was fought over by the ancient Israelites after being refused passage twice by pagan kings, as well as being an important pilgrimage route for early Christians as it passed next to Mount Nebo, Moses’ death and burial site.

Although the 6,500-year-old city dates back to the heyday of Alexander the Great, Jerash only really flourished after it came under Roman rule in 63 BC. Formerly known by the Roman name of Gerasa, this ancient Greco-Roman city is located 30 miles north of the Jordanian capital of Amman. Jerash has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site because it is home to one of the oldest and most well-preserved Roman ruins in the Middle East.

Jerash holds the distinction of being often conquered yet never surrendered to the passage of time. Not unlike the Great Pyramid in Egypt, Jerash was hidden for centuries underneath a protective cover of sand before being unearthed and restored over 70 years ago. Because of this, the city’s ancient structures and colonnaded streets, along with fifteen Byzantine churches, remain in excellent condition. It is also why this “City of 1000 Pillars” is the second most important historical destination for tourists in Jordan, after Petra. One such pagan “pillar” of the Jerash community included the Greek goddess Artemis. Her image was demolished to make way for a church that was built on the site.

Jerash’s North and South Theaters are two of the most remarkable Roman theaters in the ancient world. Built in AD 90 by the city’s most affluent citizens, the uniquely shaped South Theater holds some 3,000 spectators who could quite literally hear a pin drop across its vast auditorium, owing to its pitch-perfect acoustics. Both arenas are still entertaining crowds today during July’s annual Jerash Festival, which draws top-billed singers, dancers, and artists.

For Christian pilgrims, the greatest attraction of Jerash is that it is the site of one of Jesus’ most memorable miracles: the deliverance of the Gerasene demoniac. According to the Bible, multiple evil spirits were famously cast out of the possessed man and into a herd of pigs, after which the displaced demons drove the swine over a cliff into a nearby body of water.

After Jesus’ time, various Christian celebrations in Jerash continued down through the ages, including citizens during the Byzantine era who celebrated Jesus’ miracle of turning water into wine on an annual basis. Today, Jerash’s Fountain Court is a magnet for those who come to the city to re-enact the travels and teachings of Christ.

For those looking for something a little off the historical track, a trip to Jerash’s 274-acre Al Ma’wa for Nature and Wildlife Center is an ideal destination. It is the largest sanctuary for rescued and mistreated wildlife in the Middle East and a big draw for animal lovers.

Other important historic destinations, including much-heralded holy sites, can be combined in a single-day trip that includes Jerash, Ajloun Castle where visitors can admire its medieval Arab-Islamic architecture, and Umm Qais, a Greco-Roman city that boasts even more Roman ruins along with stunning views of Jordan, Syria, Israel, and the Palestine Territories.

For history and architectural buffs who thrive on trips that end in ruins (pun intended), along with Christian visitors who can appreciate the spiritual significance of the places that relate to the origins of their faith, Jerash, Jordan, is a travel destination that will not disappoint.


Explore an ancient, archeologically rich city that thrived after being occupied by Roman legions and where a legion of demons was exorcised by Jesus.

Email Cindy at cindy@israeladvantagetours.com or
visit www.israeladvantagetours.com to learn more about travel to the Lands of the Bible.

Originally Posted at israeladvantagetours.com


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