Throughout history, Amman has been inhabited by several civilizations. The first civilization on record is during the Neolithic period, around 8500 BC, when archaeological discoveries in 'Ain Ghazal, located in eastern Amman, showed evidence of not only a settled life but also the growth of artistic work, which suggests that a well-developed civilization inhabited the city at that time. In the 13th century BC Amman was called Rabbath Ammon or Rabat Amon by the Ammonites (רַבַּת עַמומּוֹן, Standard Hebrew Rabbat ʿAmmon, Tiberian Hebrew Rabbaṯ ʿAmmôn). It was later conquered by the Assyrians, followed by the Persians, and then the Greeks. Ptolemy II Philadelphus, the Hellenic ruler of Egypt, renamed it Philadelphia. The city became part of the Nabataean kingdom until 106 AD when Philadelphia came under Roman control and joined the Decapolis.
In 326 AD, Christianity became the religion of the empire and Philadelphia became the seat of a bishopric during the beginning of the Byzantine era. One of the churches of this period can be seen on the city's Citadel.
Philadelphia was renamed Amman during the Ghassanian era, and flourished under the Caliphates (with nearby capital) of the Umayyads (in Damascus) and the Abbasids (in Baghdad). It was then destroyed by several earthquakes and natural disasters and remained a small village and a pile of ruins until the Circassians settlement in 1887. The tide changed when the Ottoman Sultan decided to build the Hejaz railway, linking Damascus and Medina, facilitating both the annual hajj pilgrimage and permanent trade, putting Amman, a major station, back on the commercial map.
In 1921, Abdullah I chose Amman as seat of government for his newly-created state, the Emirate of Transjordan, and later as the capital of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. As there was no palatial building, he started his reign from the station, with his office in a train car. Amman remained a small city until 1948, when the population expanded considerably due to an influx of Palestinian refugees from what is now Israel. Amman has experienced exceptionally rapid development since 1952 under the leadership of two Hashemite Kings, Hussein of Jordan and Abdullah II of Jordan.
In 1970, Amman was the site of major clashes between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Jordanian army. Everything around the Royal Palace sustained heavy damage from shelling. Most of Amman suffered great damage from PLO rockets and the Jordanian army's shells.
The city's population continues to expand at a dizzying pace (fueled by refugees escaping the wartime events in the occupied territories and Iraq). The city received refugees from these countries on a number of occasions. The first wave of Palestinian refugees arrived from what is now Israel in 1948. A second wave after the Six-Day War in 1967. A third wave of Palestinian and Jordanian and Southeast Asians, working as domestic workers, refugees arrived in Amman from Kuwait after the Gulf War of 1991. The first wave of Iraqi refugees settled in the city after the first Gulf War, with a second wave also arriving after the 2003 invasion of Iraq. During the last 10 years the amount of new buildings within the city has increased dramatically with new districts of the city being founded at a very rapid pace (particularly so in West Amman), straining the very scarce water supplies of Jordan as a whole, and exposing Amman to the hazards of rapid expansion in the absence of careful municipal planning.
On November 9, 2005, coordinated explosions rocked three hotels in Amman, shocking and angering the population of the peaceful city. The organization, al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility. Despite the fact that the birthplace of since-killed terrorist leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, is the town of Zarqa, less than from Amman. The sheer brutality of the attacks — they targeted, among other things, a Muslim wedding procession — caused widespread revulsion across the widest range of Jordanians.
Amman is located in a hilly area of north-western Jordan. The city was originally built on seven hills, but it now spans over an area of nineteen hills (each known as a jabal or "mountain"). The main areas of Amman gain their names from the hills and mountains on whose slopes they lie.
|4||Al Qweismeh, Al Jweideh, Abu ‘Alanda and Al Raqim|
|10||Badr Al Jadeeda|
|15||Marj Al Hamam|
|25||Tla’ Al ‘Ali|
Marka International Airport is a one-terminal airport that serves primarily domestic and nearby international routes and the military.
Abdoun Bridge is one of Amman landmarks, as it connects Abdoun Circle with the 4th circle.
The Hejaz railway, built in the early 20th century, was used primarily for pilgrims to reach the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, but now the rail line is basically used by tourists. There are new projects that are being built to add more railines in the Kingdom, most of which will go through Amman.
There are plans to construct a metro line in Amman. The first phase would connect University of Jordan Street with Raghadan. Then from Raghadan to Airport Road. The project would cost more than half a billion dollars,
Amman has a extensive highway system that links every part of the city to one another. Its highways also link nearby cities such as Zarqa and Madaba. The Amman-Zarqa highway become very congested with commuters at rush hour which is why a new commuter rail line is being constructed. Amman also has an extensive bus system. There are pedestrian tunnels that bring pedestrians from one side of a highway to another. There are eight circles, or roundabouts, that are used to go from one section of Amman to another. However, the city lacks an operable rail or metro system which causes severe congestion in the city, especially in old Amman, where its narrow streets cannot handle many people. To add to the congestion, all the Kingdom's highways pass through Amman in some way intensifying traffic.
By land, the city has frequent bus connections to other cities in Jordan, as well as to major cities in neighboring countries; the latter are also served by service taxis. Internal transport is served by a number of bus routes and taxis. Service taxis, which most often operate on fixed routes, are readily available and inexpensive. The two main bus and taxi stations are Abdali (near the King Abdullah Mosque, the Parliament and Palace of Justice) and the newly built Raghadan Central Bus Station(near the Roman Amphitheater in downtown). The city can suffer from considerable traffic congestion at peak hours, especially during summer months when affluent vacationers from the Gulf region summer in Amman to take advantage of its relatively mild weather.
Amman has both a modern and historic touch. East Amman is the older part of the capital where single family dwellings on the hill side and small shops and bazaars in the wadis, or valleys, dominate East Amman's layout. Old Amman is filled with souks, or bazaars, small shops, and single family dwellings all.
West Amman, however, is less crowded and more scenic. West Amman is considered one of the richest and most Western oriented city in the Middle East. Parks and wide boulevards with towering apartments and office buildings dominate the scenery. Most of the city's 5-star and 4-star hotels are located here as well. Villas and expensive apartment complexes are very common. Most of Amman's foreign business flows through here. Shmeisani, the main economic center of Amman, and Abdoun, the up-scale residential district, are the two main areas of "West Amman" much different from the overly crowded Jabal al-Qalat in Old Amman. Shmeisani and Abdali are the two main financial districts in Amman.
Amman has a very large expatriate population because of its reputation as a haven for refugees seeking political asylum. Iraqis, Palestinians, Lebanese, Armenians, Circassions, and Chechens are among the many different expatriate populations currently residing in Amman. Egyptians, Syrians, and South East Asians also reside in vast numbers that work as domestic or civil servants. Many Westerners currently reside in Amman as many international organizations and diplomatic missions have regional offices in Amman. Amman is currently experiencing rapid growth that is reshaping the ancient city into a commercial hub. New projects and proposals in and around the city include:
These projects, along with the boom in the Jordanian real estate market and the construction of many other smaller projects, is resulting in a huge boom in terms of development, both in the city of Amman and in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan as a whole.
Numerous cultural centers can be found throughout Amman, most notably the Al Hussein Cultural Center which contains over 30,000 books and plans to double that number, 30 computer sets, an electronic library and specialized libraries. Numerous IT and library centers can be found throughout the city.
The Jordan Media City, established in 2001, is the first of its kind in the region and plans to make Jordan the regional hub of communications. It now transmits over 120 channels and still grows. Most channels are not Jordanian based, and the government still possess restrictions on Jordanian based channels which makes it hard to open new Jordanian TV channels. Although not as popular as Beirut or Cairo, many Jordanian singers work out of Amman.
The Citadel hill of Amman, known as Jabal el Qala, has been inhabited for centuries, important as a military and religious site. It dates back to Roman and Byzantine times, and later work was carried out in the early Islamic era. Remains unearthed at the northern and eastern ends of the Citadel, possibly date back to the Bronze Age. The Citadel also is home to the Temple of Hercules which is said to have been constructed under the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius who reigned from 161-180 AD, is similar to the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus.
Since Amman resembles Rome, as it is situated on seven hills, the city was a favorite place for Roman soldiers and officials. Behind the Roman forum stands a Roman theatre—the largest theatre in Jordan—with room for 6,000 spectators. Thought to have been built between 138 and 161 AD by the Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius, it is constructed into the side of the mountain and is still used for sports displays and cultural events.
Amman is also home to some of the grandest mosques in the Middle East, although they compare less favorably to the ones to be found in Istanbul, Turkey. The newest of these is the enormous King Abdullah I Mosque, built between 1982 and 1989. It is capped by a magnificent blue mosaic dome beneath which 3,000 Muslims may offer prayer. The most unusual mosque in Amman is the Abu Darweesh Mosque atop Jabal Ashrafieh (the highest point in the city). It is covered with an extraordinary black and white checkered pattern and is unique to Jordan. It is striking and visible from quite some distance. In contrast, the interior is totally free of the black and white scheme. Instead, there are light colored walls and Persian carpets. This religious building was erected by one of Amman's Circassian immigrants.
Amman is also home to many jewelers and souvenir shops for citizens and tourists alike. Most of Amman is well paved and nicely renovated. A new phase in Eastern Amman, the oldest part of the city, will repaint and renovate broken down building and build kiosks and street maps all over to the city to make touring Amman much easier for tourists. Amman is also a major destination for foreign students seeking study in Arabic. Amman's world-class hospitals are frequent destinations for those who seek medical treatment.
A new construction phase in Abdali will transform downtown Amman into a more desirable place for investment. The new development is mostly for business purposes and the rest are residential hi-rises and shopping centers. Office buildings and a new boulevard containing easy access to malls, restaurants, hotels, and residential buildings. This $1.5 billion construction plan should be completed by 2010.
Unfortunately, a lone deranged gunman attacked Western tourists during a guided trip to the downtown Roman theatre in September 2006, shooting five of them, one fatally. The man was immediately apprehended, and claimed to have acted in response to the fighting between Israel and Lebanon during the prior months. Despite this attack, tourism in Amman continues on a daily basis, and the city's tourist locations are generally well-policed. Given Jordan's location in a region that sees frequent conflict and violence, by statistics and by general mood, Amman remains a safe and interesting place to visit. For example, despite this killing, there is little or no violent or petty crime in Amman, especially against visitors, who uniformly report feeling safe at all hours in practically all locations in the city.
These malls all carry label names helping attracting tourists.