Saturday, January 28, 2012

"Let's just run away and live in Jerash, among the columns..."

Wednesday evening we went to Jerash, an hour or so north of Amman, to see more ruins. I'll admit that I was getting a little ruin-ed out at that point, and wasn't particularly looking forward to it. Not that I haven't enjoyed all the sites we've been to, but after that many ruins in that short of time things start to run together. 

Upon arriving at Jersash, however, I found that I was in for a big surprise. The ruins there were absolutely incredible. We were there for two hours, but I would have gladly stayed there all night, and then come back again the next day. It was like a giant playground for big kids. It was by far the largest set of Roman ruins we've seen yet--every new corner we turned I realized how much farther the structures spread out. I talked to a guy here who has been to Rome, and he said that he thought these ruins were even cooler than those there (save for the Colosseum, of course). 

We started out at Hadrian's gate, south of the city. At the time this city would have been built, it was common procedure to build a wall around the city for increased defensibility. Thus, there would have been four gates into the city, like this one. Here in Jerusalem we have to go through gates to get into the Old City, which is walled as well. Though back in the day the gates would have looked like this, the one's here are now small corridors lined with various shops. It was neat to get an idea of what our temporary home would have looked like in its prime.

Standing in front of Hadrian's gate

We then moved into the city, and came to the hippodrome, or arena. Here they would have held most of their outdoor events, including, most likely, jousting! I was reminded so much of A Knight's Tale, and took incredibly too many pictures accordingly. It looked just like in the movie, sans the Heath Ledger.

Can't you just imagine horses speeding down the length of this?

Entering the city proper, we were greeted by rows and rows of columns, a sight we've now become fairly well acquainted with. These were by far the best preserved we've seen yet though. And, as you can see by the picture below, they were everywhere.

Too many pillars to count...

Even more columns. I tell you, they were everywhere.
Moving farther down the main street, or "cardo," we came to a very large fountain. The Romans would have had various performances here, probably with scantily clad women. Our guide told us girls not to get any ideas, but... seriously. We're BYU students. We're more likely to have a random dance party in it than we are to "get any ideas." But, in any case, it was one of the largest Roman structures we've seen. I felt dwarfed standing next to it (I presume that even Morgan would...).

This picture adequately captures the dwarfing.
We then found even more columns, this time with a cool staircase by them. So we took more pictures.

me + columns = half of my pictures.
Eventually we got some free time to run all over (without climbing on antiquities) and explore on our own. That was my favorite part of the day. We climbed up the staircase in the picture above, and found a neat overlook where we could see a good portion of the city. Keep in mind though that it still stretched out for a good quarter mile or so on the other side of the picture that you can't see.

You can see Hadrian's gate far in the distance, and a theater to the right (stage left) of the picture. As well as many many columns.

A sweet shadow shot of Me, Sarah, and Becca. And - more columns!
As our departure time neared, we made our way back to Hadrian's gate along the upper ridge, and went into the theater. It was beautiful, and bigger than I had expected. While we were exploring the stage, a group of bagpipe musicians began to play. There were about fifteen or so BYU students in the theater at the time, and the mob mentality took over. Soon we were all doing the macarena on stage, to bagpipe music, in an ancient Roman theater, in Jordan. I feel safe saying that is an experience I will never have again, but it was a complete blast. It also solidified my theory about BYU students and their susceptibility to dance parties.

Standing in the theater. The man behind me on the left wearing the red keffiyeh was one of the bagpipe players

Jerash was, most sincerely, one of my favorite places that I've ever visited. I never wanted to leave. The temperature had been perfect the whole time we were there, and as the sun was slowly setting it basked everything in a warm evening glow. I was also lucky enough to explore the whole place with some great new friends. 

Jerash is a magical place. My imagination was running wild the whole time I was there picturing what the city must have looked like in its prime. What the horses would have sounded like trotting down the cobble stone road. What a Sophocles play would have looked like being performed in the theater. How crowded it must have been going through Hadrian's gate at midday. Or even how the columns would have looked when they were connected to things. Not that I have anything against columns...


  1. By the way, Huntsman was TOTES climbing on the antiquities. Dan and I were following him. Just sayin'.

  2. Hey Sweetie Girl, getting everyone ready for school, Slava downstairs singing opera ("la la la la la Wah Nee Oh." I told him it's "Get in there you big furry oaf, I couldn't care less what you smell"), Bubba had a sleepy day and snoozed twice (no snoozing possible with the singing, however) and Annie wants a high pony tail. Just talked to your dad, he's on the plane, ready to fly to his precious Cajun land. Thought I'd give you a slice of life @ home. Sure do love you, Mom

  3. PS Meant to mention that the photos are stunning. Isn't it just spine tingling to be in an ancient ampitheater? Where theater was born . . . just amazing. Did they do the pin drop thing? I think I told you they did that when I was in Greece and you could hear it up in the seats.

  4. Morgan studying for the ACT which is next Friday. Missoula Children's Theater will be here this Sunday. Said I'd put together a spread for them, even though they won't be staying here (I didn't know I'd be living here soon enough to get them here), and Bubba will definitely be going to Prime Time with Annie. Annie is a Beaver Buddy for the basketball game tonight, will get a shirt and to be in the huddle, sit with the team, etc. Slava having a tough time @ school. Was sick all last night; will keep him home this morning. It's 7:30 here, so it's afternoon there. Picturing you having free time and getting ready for supper. Hope it's something yummy! Love you my dear, Mom

  5. Haha, when I read that I was seriously just checking everything right before I went into dinner. :-) We had chicken curry. It *was* yummy. :)

    I really do appreciate that you give me slices of home. It's very comforting. AHHHH- Morgan and the ACT. Friday as in like a week from today?! That's awesome; I'm psyched for him. MCT is exciting! What play are they doing? I assume Annie's auditioning; is Slavy going to as well?

    That's so sweet that Morgan is going with Annie to Prime Time. That must be really special to her. :) And holy cow- a Beaver Buddy!! That's so sweet! I'm excited to hear more about that Sunday (so long as that time still works for calling??)

    I'm sorry that Slavy is difficult, I hope things get better with that. Thinking and praying for you guys always.

    I love you so bigsies!! Mwah!