Amman, the modern and ancient capital of Jordan, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the World. The city’s modern buildings blend with the remnants of ancient civilizations. The profusion of gleaming white houses, kebab stalls with roasting meat, and tiny cafes where rich Arabian coffee is sipped in the afternoon sunshine, conjure a mood straight from a thousand and one nights.
Recent excavations have uncovered homes and towers believed to have been built during the Stone Age with many references to it in the Bible.
Amman was known in the Old Testament as Rabbath-Ammon, the capital of the Ammonites around 1200 BC, it was also referred to as “the City of Waters”.
In Greco-Roman times in the 3rd century BC, the City was renamed Philadelphia (Greek for “The Brotherhood Love”) after the Ptolemaic ruler Philadelphus (283-246 BC). The City later came under Seleucid as well as Nabataean rule until the Roman General Pompey annexed Syria and made Philadelphia part of the Decapolis League – a loose alliance of ten free city-states, bound by powerful commercial, political, and cultural interests under overall allegiance to Rome.
Under the influence of the Roman culture, Philadelphia was reconstructed in typically grand Roman style with colonnaded streets, baths, an Amphitheater, and impressive public buildings.
During the Byzantine period, Philadelphia was the seat of a Christian Bishop, and therefore several churches were built. The city declined somewhat until the year 635 AD. As Islam spread northwards from the Arabian Peninsula, the land became part of its domain. Its original Semitic name Ammon or Amman was returned to it.
Amman’s modern history began in the late 19th Century, when the Ottomans resettled a colony of Circassian emigrants in 1878. As the Great Arab Revolt progressed and the State of Transjordan was established, Emir Abdullah ibn Al-Hussein founder of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan made Amman his capital in 1921. Since then, Amman has grown rapidly into a modern, thriving metropolis of well over two million people.