Okay, where were we? Petra. Right.
So, after our day exploring Petra, we drove the 3.5 hours back to Amman, stopping briefly in a smallish town called Madaba.
Madaba is known as "The City of Mosaics". Intricate Byzantine mosaics lie underneath nearly every house, many of which have been excavated and put on display in museums. Madaba continues the mosaic tradition within the walls of the Mosaic School where they give tourists demonstrations of how the natural stone mosaics are made.
Compared to Cairo, Amman is a modern city. Compared to, say, Cleveland, it is not. We went to the Jordan archeological museum which has a wonderful, if small, collection of Jordanian artifacts from the ancient Nabateans to the Roman and Byzantine eras, including the Dead Sea Scrolls. It sits high above the city on The Citadel.
The Citadel is the ancient site of Rabbath-Ammon. Excavations have revealed Roman, Byzantine, and early Islamic remains and artifacts. The al-Qasr ("The Palace") dates back to the Islamic Umayyad period with the ruins of Umayyad palace grounds surrounding the largely intact structure.
Also atop the Citadel is what is thought to be a Roman Temple of Hercules. The temple was built in the reign of emperor Marcus Aurelius (161 - 180 AD), and is currently under restoration.
From the pinnacle of The Citadel, our guide pointed out a part of the city which used to be a very large Palestinian refugee camp. The Palestinians who live in Jordan are no longer considered refugees and have been granted full Jordanian citizenship along with the all the rights and privileges to schooling and employment. Many Middle Eastern countries have not been as welcoming and continue to marginalize the Palestinian refugees living in their countries - some of who have been there for generations.
Down the hill from The Citadel is the Roman Theater built around 150 AD during the reign of Antonius Pius. The city actually still uses it periodically for sporting and cultural events. It seats about 6000 spectators.
Our visit to Amman wasn't all ancient Rome and Byzantium. We also saw the King Abdullah Mosque, a recent addition to the city of Amman, built in 1989. It is huge and blue, and quite a good example of modern Islamic architecture.