Amman, the capital city of Jordan, was our entry point into the country. Having arrived into Amman in the middle of the night we had to wait until the last day of our trip to explore the city. After too short a sleep, we set off along the King’s Highway in Jordan, en-route to Petra. Luckily our nine day tour of Jordan organised by Jordan Select Tours, meant we had a car with a driver, so we could all catch up on our sleep as we drove! Occupying the central highlands, the points of interest that punctuate the King’s Highway are well worth exploring and lie at the heart of ancient Jordan. Including panoramic sites of biblical importance, exquisite Roman mosaics and well preserved Crusader castles there is plenty to see throughout this central region.
FOLLOWING THE KING’S HIGHWAY IN JORDAN WITH KIDS
PIECE TOGETHER EARLY CHRISTIAN HISTORY AT THE MOSAICS OF MADABA
Our first stop was St George’s Church in Madaba where we viewed the Holy Land mosaic map. Having survived fire, neglect and even earthquakes the map of the Holy Land represents the oldest map of Palestine in existence. It provides many historical insights into the region. Crafted in AD 560, the map has 157 captions in Greek depicting all the major biblical sites of the Middle East from Egypt to Palestine. It originally contained more than 2 million pieces! Although some of the mosaic has been lost, enough remains to get a wonderful picture of the region.
Here you can clearly see the city of Jerusalem depicted on the map. The city is complete with city walls, gates and the central road (cardo). A little further up you can see fish in the Jordan River escaping upstream away from the lethal waters of the Dead Sea.
SURVEY THE PROMISED LAND FROM MOUNT NEBO
Mount Nebo is where Moses is said to have seen the Promised Land. A land that he was forbidden to enter. He died (allegedly aged 120!) and was later buried in the area of Mt. Nebo. The exact site of his burial however, remains unknown.
Go up unto…Mount Nebo in Moab, across from the Jericho, and view Canaan…the land i am giving the Israelites as their own possession. There on the mountain that you have climbed you will die. Deuteronomy 32:49-50
The views of the Promised Land towards Gilead, Judah, Jericho and the Negev are spectacular on a clear day. Unfortunately, it was rather hazy while we were here. However, we could still see the Dead Sea and the plains of the Promised Land stretching out infront of us.
ENJOY THE EAGLE EYE VIEW OF WADI MUJIB
Stretching across Jordan from the Desert Highway to the Dead Sea is the vast Wadi Mujib. It is proudly known as the ‘Grand Canyon’ of Jordan. The views across the wadi are spectacular and worth a stop. The canyon is 1km deep and 4km wide. It takes the King’s Highway 18km of road to switchback down one side of the wadi, across the dam at he bottom and up the other side!
EXPLORE ANCIENT CRUSADER REMAINS AT KARAK CASTLE
The ancient Crusader stronghold of Karak (or Kerak) lies within the walls of the old city. The fortified castle that dominates the town was a place of legend in the battles between the Crusaders (Franks) and the Islamic armies of Saladin. It is one of the most famous crusader castles. In its day it was just one of a long line of Frank defences stretching from Aqaba in the south to Turkey in the north.
Karak lies on the ancient caravan routes between Egypt and Syria, and was used by the Greeks and Romans. The city is mentioned in the bible and features in the famous Madaba mosaic map. The arrival of the Crusaders gave the city renewed prominence, especially after the castle was built in AD 1142. The castle was inhabited all the way up until 1893 when it housed over 1400 soldiers. Karak has a commanding position and its strategic value is still obvious today.
Karak Castle is a large site. Although much of the castle has been destroyed through nearly a thousand years of battles, there are still many rooms, winding passages and tunnels to explore. The boys loved exploring, wandering through the underground tunnels and partially excavated halls.
Although a long day, and immediately after we had arrived into the country, it is well worth spending a day exploring the sights of the King’s Highway in Jordan. There is plenty to keep children occupied with short stops and fabulous castles to explore. Our recommendation would be two spend two nights on arrival into the country in Amman. After exploring Amman and getting over your flights, move on to explore the King’s Highway, en-route to Petra.
Read Also: Exploring the Roman City of Jerash with Kids