Umm Qais & Ancient Gadara

Umm Qais sits on the northwestern border of Jordan. From its hills you could throw a stone into Syria or Israel. Lebanon is not too far off either.

When I visit in 2014 there are some concerns about safety given the situation in Syria. I exercise especial caution here; Damascus is only 65 miles away and ISIS/ISIL not much farther.

Entry fee is a reasonable 3 JOD (~2 USD).

The ruins


Near Umm Qais are the ruins of Ancient Gadara. This city has a rich past having passed through the hands of the Greeks, Romans, Seleucids, Egyptians, and Eastern Roman Empire. At one point, several trade routes ran through it and several famed writers and philosophers lived here. The Gospel of Mark also tells of the healing of the demoniac at Gadara.

When the Romans took over in 63 BC they rebuilt Gadara, which explains why many of the structures are, well, Roman. An earthquake eventually destroyed the city in the 8th century and it's been abandoned since.

Church terrace (foreground) and a restored Ottoman house (background).

The Roman Theater (West), built between 1st & early 2nd Century AD.

The basilica, also the site of a Byzantine church.

Decumanus Maximum. This main road was once lined with shops.

At the northwestern corner of Gadara is a panoramic viewpoint. You could see Israel, Lebanon, and Syria from here as well as the Sea of Galilee, Mount Hernon, and Golan Heights.

Nearby here are several buildings that tell us how sophisticated this city was. Excavations reveal a complex system of piping that supplied the city with water.

Looking in the direction of Damascus.

The public fountain building. Archeological excavations found a public urban water supply and piping systems.

The terrace of the Resthouse, a restaurant catering to visitors of the ruins.

The southern walls of Gadara.