The Jordanian capital is an easy going and laid back spot compared to the world famous Wadi Rum, Petra and the Dead Sea. It is a place of charm in its own right. Here the country’s recent formation on the world stage collects and remembers everything that has given it a specific identity.
Our experience of the capital was a diverse one, complete with malls, museums, urban sprawl, Roman ruins, citadels, mosques and restaurants. It is a city that can be walked as it is concentrated among various rolling hills, however the logistics and traffic don’t allow for it to be the best urban planning.
What stood out right away is the city’s patchwork like arrangement. Some parts are brand new, others two thousand years old and there is not much to distinguish them, one neighborhood just blends into the next monument.
A hotel with great service and in a fantastic new urban living development is the W where we stayed. It has the funky vibe the chain is known for, but very nice hospitality and location overlooking the sprawling city. We tried St. Regis, but found it woefully inadequate, the W was a much better property when it came to attention to detail.
We walked from the hotel to the center of town around 20 minutes. Near King Faysal Square the street pavings turn to cobble stone and many of the charming houses, restaurants cafes and even tourist shops have an air of authenticity and hospitality.
Nearby we made a stop at the Fakhreldin Restaurant. It is a former official’s house which has become one of the most famed proprietors of Jordanian food in the country. The style is elite, with white gloved waiters from a bygone era and a list of celebrity guests on the walls, but the food and atmosphere are irreplaceable. Having traveled all around the Middle East this is quite possibly the best hummus we’ve had anywhere.
From here we walked to the famous rainbow street. It is where the central pulse of Amman thrives. The market is a buzz of activity wherein any and every food item is sold. The smell of spices and the swirling crowd can be both exciting and overwhelming, but it is really the place to see authentic Amman with its blend of national and international inhabitants.
Just nearby the Roman amphitheater and other ruins demonstrate that this is one of the oldest sections of the city. High atop the hill across from the amphitheater one can see the citadel and temple of Hercules which offer some of the best unbroken panoramas of town.
A stay in the capital would not be complete without a stop at Zalatimo Brothers. This sweets shop has been in operation for over a century and it enjoys several locations across the city and internationally. We chose to explore the one near City Mall. The hospitality was amazing, from enjoying free coffee and samples to walking away with some of the most succulent deserts one can enjoy in the Middle East.