Monthly Archives: September 2012

Desert Castles Jordan

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Jordan Desert Castles

There might be different ways to drive to Azraq, but I just remember we drove in the direction of Amman Airport, passed Al Jweideh, Abu Alanda and the industrial area of Sahab. From here just followed the signs pointing to Azraq or Iraq as destination. After visiting the highlights of Jordan, the visit of the Desert Castles will show you another side of the country. You will feel that Jordan’s landscape is mainly desert, but unlike Wadi Rum the east is a black basalt desert, flat and makes the impression of no man’s land. The road is partly not in the best condition and bumpy, and there is a lots of truck traffic through the desert from/to Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

Desert Castle 1

Desert Castle

There are totally nine Desert Castles in east and southeast of Amman, but the easiest to visit are Kharanah, Amra and Azraq. Kharanah and Amra are located directly beside the highway, Azraq castle you find after turning left at the junction in Azraq town. The Desert castles are an impressing example to the flourishing beginning of Islamic-Arab civilization, architecture and art. They had been built by the Umayyads 661-750 AD. The Umayyads had been the second caliphate after the death of prophet Mohammad and made Damascus their new capital. Many castles lie on the ancient trade route towards Medina and Kufa. They served as residences, caravanserais and bath.

Desert Castle 2

Desert Castle

Kharaneh is well preserved with its original architectural elements and consists of two levels. 61 rooms area arranged around a courtyard. Round buttresses occupy the four corners. Narrow openings in the outer wall seem to be arrow slits, but actually they provided light and ventilation for the interior. Several staircases lead to the upper floors. Stucco discs with stylized plants decorating the upper sections of some rooms reflect close contact with the art of Iraq and Mesopotamia. The original function of the building is not clear, most scholars think it had been a khan, which would make Qasr Kharaneh the earliest known khan of the Islamic period.

Desert Castle 3

Desert Castle

The eastern solitude made me feel this is worth a shot, some green bushes close to Qusair Amra.

Desert Castle 4

Desert Castle

Quseir Amra has been inscribed upon the World Heritage List of the Convention concerning the protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage. Built in the early 8th century, this hunting pavilion in the steppe was from to time used as a temporary lodging for members of the ruling Umayyad family. The most outstanding features are the reception hall, the hydraulic structure and the baths, both richly decorated with figurative fresco and reliefs.

Desert Castle 5

Desert Castle

Dancing and bathing people and animals, less frequently found in later Islamic art on such a large and public scale in Qusair Amra.

Desert Castle 6

Desert Castle

Breakfast like a local in Jordan

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If you have the possibility try a breakfast in one of the local cafes, which will be a different experience than the western styled buffet at the hotels. A typical, hearty breakfast in Jordan consists of hummus, falafel, ful, pickles, pitta bread and the obligatory cup of tea with fresh mint. Like you see there is no spoon or fork. It is eaten with the hands and the pitta bread is used as a kind of spoon to scoop up the soft hummus and ful. Certainly it is no problem to ask the waiter for a cutlery.

Jordanian Breakfast

Tea with Mint

Shopping at Madaba

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Madaba Handicrafts

If you looking for an authentic Jordanian handicraft, Madaba is a place to go. The town is well known for its Byzantine mosaic art and the Mosaic School is evidence for the importance of this craft. The school trains to conserve and restore the ancient mosaics as well as to produce mosaics. You can find various, hand made mosaic souvenirs like vases, wall hangings and tables in Madaba. There are many shops around St Georges’ Church and on the way to Mt Nebo where you can buy and watch how items are made.

Other local crafts are rugs, pottery and hand-painted ostrich eggs. The eggs are decorated with tiny dots of paint to create various designs, depicting scenes of ancient mosaics and Jordanian folklore.

Madaba Handcraft 01

Madaba Handcraft 03

The artisans cut stone slices with clippers, to create the small pieces. Such kind of table mosaic takes in the average 5 months.

Madaba Handcraft 02

Madaba Handcraft 04

Visa and Passport Requirements for travel to Jordan

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Visa and Passport Requirements

In general your passport has to be valid minimum 6 month beyond the length of the trip when traveling in Jordan. The cost of a single entry visa is 20 JD per person (around 30 USD), it is valid for 28 days. Travelers arriving and departing Aqaba, either through the port, the airport or at the crossing from Israel or Saudi Arabia, are granted a free visa to Jordan. Most nationalities can obtain the Jordanian visa at the airport or the land borders, except the Allenby Bridge/King Hussein Bridge. The visa has to be paid in cash in Jordanian Dinar, money exchange facilities are existent. Some nationalities need the visa prior to arrival, see the below list. This list is meant solely as a useful tool and the data within it is subject to change without prior notice. It is recommended that you check with the Jordanian diplomatic mission in your country prior to travel. 

UPDATE: Started and effective on 1st of April 2014, visa fee for entering Jordan is now 40 JOD per person ( around 60 USD). This applies to all individuals arriving at Queen Alia Airport or any ground border (except Allenby). In Aqaba and Arava non-restricted nationalities still obtain free visa on arrival. 

Nationals from below countries are able to obtain the Jordanian visa upon arrival, except at Allenby Bridge:

Algeria, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belgium, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria,  Burma, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, China, China (Taiwan), Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Holland, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kiribati, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Macedonia, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Nicaragua, North Korea, Norway, Oman, Palestine/PNA Passport Holders, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, Salvador, Samoa, San Marino, São Tomé and Príncipe, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Korea, South Africa, Spain, Surinam, Sweden, Syria, Swaziland, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Thailand, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, United Kingdom & North Ireland, United States of America, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Vatican City, Venezuela, White Russia, Yemen, Zimbabwe.


Nationals from below countries need the Jordanian visa prior to arrival:

Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Bangladesh, Belize, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameron, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Ivory Coast, Cuba, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Republic of Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Iran, Iraq, Kenya, Laos, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Moldavia, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Vietnam, Zaire, Zambia.

Meet and Assist Services Upon Arrival

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We offer meet and assist services to make your journey simple and hassle free.

Meet and Assist Services

Our Representative for Meet and Assist Services Upon Arrival

Our Meet and Assist services offers you a warm welcome before the immigration area. Our representative will accompany and assist you through immigration and customs formalities, baggage collection and will match you to your chauffeur.