Jordan is a Middle Easterner country with unique landscapes, predominantly Muslim, dotted about with archeological sites over a couple of millennia old. Having had managed to resist pressure from major powers ever since the liberation from the British rule in 1946, it is now bordered by Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Syria.
Due to its unearthly scenery, Jordan was used as a mystical, extraterrestrial-like film location for some memorable movies such as Laurence of Arabia, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Prometheus, The Hurt Locker and so many more. Four of the Jordan sites have been recognized by UNESCO and are on their list.
UNESCO Sites in Jordan
1. Petra is probably the best know to the general public out of the four Jordan UNESCO sites. It was added to their list in 1985 on the premise: “Inhabited since prehistoric times, this Nabataean caravan-city, situated between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea, was an important crossroads between Arabia, Egypt and Syria-Phoenicia. 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.”
2. Um er-Rasas (Kastrom Mefa’a) is another famous archeological site of Jordan. It’s a more recent addition to the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites, having been added in 2004 to it. The premise: “Most of this archaeological site, which started as a Roman military camp and grew to become a town from the 5th century, has not been excavated. It contains remains from the Roman, Byzantine and Early Muslim periods (end of 3rd to 9th centuries AD) and a fortified Roman military camp. The site also has 16 churches, some with well-preserved mosaic floors. Particularly noteworthy is the mosaic floor of the Church of Saint Stephen with its representation of towns in the region. Two square towers are probably the only remains of the practice, well known in this part of the world, of the stylites (ascetic monks who spent time in isolation atop a column or tower). Um er-Rasas is surrounded by, and dotted with, remains of ancient agricultural cultivation in an arid area.”
3. 1985 was an important year for Jordan when it came to UNESCO sites being confirmed having a World Heritage importance. The beautifully conserved desert castle of Quser Amra is the second addition, after Petra: “Built in the early 8th century, this exceptionally well-preserved desert castle was both a fortress with a garrison and a residence of the Umayyad caliphs. The most outstanding features of this small pleasure palace are the reception hall and the hammam, both richly decorated with figurative murals that reflect the secular art of the time.”
4. The Wadi Rum Protected Area is the newest Jordanian addition to the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites, it was added in 2011: “The 74,000-hectare property, inscribed as a mixed natural and cultural site, is situated in southern Jordan, near the border with Saudi Arabia. It features a varied desert landscape consisting of a range of narrow gorges, natural arches, towering cliffs, ramps, massive landslides and caverns. Petroglyphs, inscriptions and archaeological remains in the site testify to 12,000 years of human occupation and interaction with the natural environment. The combination of 25,000 rock carvings with 20,000 inscriptions trace the evolution of human thought and the early development of the alphabet. The site illustrates the evolution of pastoral, agricultural and urban activity in the region.”