6 Days / 5 Nights
*Itinerary can be customized according to number of days and inclusions desired.
(Breakfast = B, Lunch = L, Dinner = D)
Day 1: AMMAN
Welcome to Amman! Transfer to your hotel. Time permitting, visit the Metropolis of Amman and Metropolitan Benedictos. His gracious hospitality will amaze you as will the school of the Metropolis and the other works that have been undertaken by the Metropolis. Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Amman. (B, D)
Amman has served as the modern and ancient capital of Jordan. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world with a 1994 excavation uncovering homes and towers believed to have been built during the Stone Age. It is the capital city of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, a city of 2,525,000 inhabitants (2008 estimate), and the administrative capital and commercial center of Jordan. It is also the largest city in Jordan. It sits atop seven hills, which are represented by the seven pronged star depicted on the Jordanian flag. The city was originally built on seven hills, but it now spans an area of over nineteen hills (each known as a jabal or “mountain”). Many of Amman’s districts derive their names from the name of the mountain they are built on.
Day 2: MUKAWIR / KERAK / PETRA
After breakfast, drive from Amman on Kings Highway to Mukawir. King’s Highway is the world’s oldest continuously used communication route. Abraham would certainly have used this route. Also, King’s Highway is first mentioned in the Bible in Genesis 20:17 when Moses led the Exodus through southern Jordan. Mukawir is the palace / fort of Herod Antipas who was the Roman appointed ruler over the region during the life of Jesus. On this hilltop, at the Palace of Machaerus (from the Greek: Machairia=sword), John the Baptist was imprisoned and beheaded by Herod. The New Testament states Herod was obsessed with his stepdaughter, Salome. He promised her anything she wanted if she would dance for him. In exchange, she asked that the head of St. John the Baptist be brought to her on a silver platter. The site itself is on a hill that has steps leading to the highest point where you will be able to enjoy magnificent views of the Dead Sea and mountains. For those who are unable to climb to the top, you can wait for the group in the bus area. At the top of the hill are the remains of columns that were restored in addition to rooms on the lower levels. The earliest mosaics in Jordan, which are in black and white, are found here.
From here, drive on Kings Highway passing via Wadi Mujib or the Grand Canyon of Jordan. Take in the beautiful landscape until we reach the Crusader Castle of Kerak, but also known as the land of Ruth in the Bible (land of Moab). This castle was the last one to be built on Kings Highway by the crusaders. The castle itself is located inside the city of Kerak. You will begin the tour by walking to the stable area then onto the kitchen and dining rooms. Pass the dungeons and towers. Enjoy the views and the architecture of the crusades. After the tour of the castle, drive on the desert highway and part of the Kings Highway until we reach Petra. Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Petra. (B,D)
Day 3: PETRA
This morning, early departure from the hotel to experience the “morning glory” which is the magnificent sunrise when the sun peaks over the walls of the gorge and lights up the Treasury with its golden rays.
(Departure time from the hotel to see the sunrise will be determined locally and subject to confirmation).
During the time of Jesus and the Apostles, one of the East Mediterranean’s greatest trading centers was located in the southern Jordan city of Petra. Petra flourished during the Nabataean rule from the 3rd century to the early 2nd century AD. Petra seems to be mentioned in the Bible’s Old Testament under several possible names including Sela and Joktheel. During the Exodus, Moses and the Israelites passed through the Petra area in Edom. Local tradition says that the spring at Wadi Musa (Valley of Moses), just outside of Petra, is the place where Moses struck the rock and brought forth water. Aaron, the brother of Moses and Miriam, died in Jordan and was buried in Petra at Mount Hor, now called Jabal Arun in Arabic or Mount Aaron. A Byzantine church and later an Islamic shrine/tomb were built on the summit of the mountain which today attracts pilgrims from all over the world.
After viewing the sunrise, take a short 10-minute drive to the entrance site of Petra to begin your tour.
Marvel at The Siq, the narrow gorge leading to the ruins in the “rose-red” Nabataean city of Petra, a UNESCO site, with its spectacular red mountains. This Nabataean caravan-city, situated between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea, was an important crossroads between Arabia, Egypt and Syria-Phoenicia. It was an important junction for the silk, spice and other trade routes that linked China, India and southern Arabia with Egypt, Syria, Greece and Rome. Petra is half-built, half-carved into the rock, and is surrounded by mountains riddled with passages and gorges. It is one of the world’s most famous archaeological sites, where ancient Eastern traditions blend with Hellenistic architecture. Start the tour of Petra by walking through The Siq. The lost city of Petra is one of the wonders of the ancient world. Petra comes from the Greek word which means “stone”. Petra was established around the 6th century B.C. by the Nabataean Arabs, a nomadic tribe who settled in the area and laid the foundations of a commercial empire that extended into Syria. The Romans took over Petra around 106 AD and the town declined in importance thereafter. The Swiss explorer Johann L. Burckhardt discovered it again in the early 19th century. Upon arrival, you will begin an unforgettable journey down the canyon. The dramatic Nabataean /Hellenistic rock-cut temple/tombs approached via The Siq, a narrow gorge, approximately .07 miles long, flanked on either side by soaring 263 feet high cliffs, is the main entrance from the east to a once extensive trading city. It represents a unique artistic achievement. This masterpiece of a lost city has fascinated visitors since the early 19th century. The entrance approach and the settlement itself were made possible by the creative genius of the extensive water distribution and storage system. Admire the rock cut architecture built into the mountains and the water conduit system. You will also see the Pharaoh’s daughter’s palace which was a Nabataean temple in the lower level of the city, as well as the Triumphal Arch and the Nabataean Theatre which could accommodate up to 7,000 people. Continue by foot to the most beautiful monument: the Treasury (Al-Khazneh). This is an awe-inspiring experience. It has a massive façade, 99 feet wide and 141 feet high, carved out of the sheer, dusky pink rock-face, and it dwarfs everything around it. It was carved in the early 1st century BC as the tomb of an important Nabataean king and represents the engineering genius of these ancient people.
St Paul was in “Arabia” and many scholars believe he was in Petra to teach the “new faith.
There are hundreds of elaborate rock-cut tombs with intricate carvings. Unlike the houses, which were destroyed mostly by earthquakes, the tombs were carved to last throughout the afterlife, and 500 have survived. The fusion of Hellenistic architectural facades with traditional Nabataean rock-cut temple/tombs, the “royal tombs”, including the Khasneh, the Urn Tomb, the Palace Tomb, the Corinthian Tomb and the Deir Monastery (one had to climb 800 rock cut steps to get there) demonstrate an outstanding fusion of Hellenistic architecture with Eastern tradition, marking a significant meeting of East and West at the turn of the first millennium of our era.
The varied archaeological remains and architectural monuments from prehistoric times to the medieval periods bear exceptional testimony to the now lost civilizations which succeeded each other at the site. Break for lunch on your own. After lunch, for those who want to make the climb, walk up to the high place of sacrifice or the Monastery. The walk is long, if you are not up for the challenge, you can wait for the group to descend in the bus area. Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Petra. (B, D)
Day 4: RUM / DEAD SEA
After breakfast, depart Petra for Wadi Rum –land of Midanites and the place where Lawrence of Arabia resided for some time. Take a 2-hour drive in a 4×4 jeep in the desert by a Bedouin. See the beautiful landscape of the southern desert with its colored mountains and sand dunes. You will stop to observe inscriptions from the 7th BC that date back to the Thamudic tribe which were the cousins of the Nabataeans. The figures and the inscriptions mention the names of passersby. Drive on the Safi Road from Aqaba, parallel to the Dead Sea to see the remains of Lot’s Cave. Byzantine Christians built a church and monastery dedicated to Saint Lot. The complex was built around the cave where Lot and his daughters found refuge. It is 280 steps to the church decorated with beautiful mosaics. See the gorgeous views of the Dead Sea and the desert.
The infamous Sodom and Gomorrah and other cities of the Dead Sea Plain were the subjects of some of the Old Testament. Soon after Abraham and his nephew, Lot, arrived in the Dead Sea Plain, they separated their herds and people and went their own ways. God said he would destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of the people’s wicked ways but Abraham successfully argued with God that Lot and some others would be spared. As they were leaving the burning city of Sodom, Lot’s wife disobeyed God’s order not to look back and was turned into a pillar of salt. Lot and his two daughters survived and fled to a cave – Lot’s Cave. The New Testament describes the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah as an example in undergoing the punishment of the eternal fire. Jesus himself recalled the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and warned that every person’s fate would depend on whether he or she chose material possessions or God’s Kingdom. Time permitting, take a float in the Dead Sea. Dinner and overnight at a hotel by the Dead Sea. (B, D)
Day 5: DEAD SEA / NEBO / MADABA / DEAD SEA
This morning, subject to confirmation and approval, attend Liturgy in the Greek Orthodox Church by the River Jordan where Christ was baptized by John the Baptist. After the morning Liturgy or baptism, drive 45 minutes to 2,625 feet (800 meters) above sea level to Mount Nebo, the final station in Moses’ historic flight from Egypt to the Holy Land. View what Moses saw when he was 120 years old with his crystal clear vision. He saw from the Gilead Mountains to the Mediterranean and everything in between. On a clear day, you can see Mount of Olives of Jerusalem, Dead Sea, Jericho, Jordan Valley and River. Approximately 10 minutes away, stop in the city of Madaba known for its Byzantine and Umayyad mosaics which are under restoration and belonging to the Greek Orthodox Church of St George. Observe the 6th century Madaba mosaic map of the region that is preserved in the floor of the Basilica. There are two million pieces of colored stones in the mosaic that is the earliest representation of Byzantine Jerusalem, labeled the “Holy Land”. In the church is the icon of the Virgin Mary depicted with three hands. In addition, there is a school operated by the church attended by Christian and Moslem children. The church believes that this is the only way to re-gain Christian children who have left the Orthodox faith. Next continue on to the city of Salt for a short tour of what was once the old Capital of Jordan. Then, continue on to Jeresh (Gerasa) (approximately a 2-hour drive). This city is the best preserved Greco-Roman Decapolis City in the East and perhaps in the world. It is known as the Pompeii of the East and is nestled in a quiet valley among the mountains of Gilead. To this day, its paved and colonnaded streets, fifteen Byzantine churches, soaring hilltop temples, handsome theaters, spacious public plazas, baths, fountains and city walls pierced by towers and gates, remain in exceptional condition and make this the most important historical destination in Jordan after Petra. See the Greco-Roman ruins including the Corinthian Column, Hadrian’s Arch, the Hippodrome, the Temples of Zeus and Artemis and the Forum and the circuit of city walls. Observe both Corinthian and Ionic columns in this “city of 1000 columns.”
In the large ecclesiastical complex within the city, there is a fountain where Byzantine citizens once annually celebrated Jesus’ miracle of turning water into wine (you will visit the site in Cana in Israel).
Dinner and overnight in a hotel by the Dead Sea. (B, D)
Day 6: DEAD SEA / ONWARDS
Transfer to the airport for your flight. (B)