Ajloun, a small town located in the north-western region of Jordan, is a hidden gem waiting to be explored. Situated approximately 70 kilometers north of the capital city, Amman, Ajloun is nestled in the scenic hills of the Ajloun Highlands. This charming town is known for its historic castle, breathtaking landscapes, and abundant natural beauty.
The Ajloun Castle, also known as Qala’at ar-Rabad, stands as the centrepiece of Ajloun. Constructed in the 12th century by the Ayyubid dynasty, the castle was strategically designed to defend against Crusader attacks. Perched atop a hill, it offers commanding views of the surrounding countryside. The castle’s imposing architecture and well-preserved halls, towers, and underground passages provide visitors with a fascinating glimpse into the region’s medieval history and military fortifications.
One of the highlights of Ajloun is its close proximity to stunning natural landscapes. The Ajloun Forest Reserve, located nearby, is a protected area that spans over 13 square kilometers. This pristine reserve is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including oak trees, wildflowers, and various bird species. As you explore the reserve’s winding hiking trails, you’ll be immersed in the tranquillity of nature, surrounded by lush greenery and the songs of birds. Keep an eye out for wildlife such as deer, foxes, and rabbits that often roam freely in this untouched sanctuary.
Ajloun itself offers a unique blend of history, culture, and hospitality. Strolling through the town’s narrow streets, you’ll encounter shops and cafes where you can sample local delicacies and engage in friendly conversations with the warm-hearted locals. The Ajloun Souk, or market, is a vibrant hub filled with a cornucopia of goods. From aromatic spices to vibrant textiles, intricately crafted pottery to handmade crafts, the souk is a treasure trove of Jordanian heritage and craftsmanship.
Venturing beyond Ajloun, you’ll discover charming villages and historical sites that further enrich your experience. Just a stone’s throw away lies the village of Orjan, renowned for its traditional stone houses and terraced gardens. Here, you can immerse yourself in an authentic rural Jordanian experience, witnessing the age-old agricultural practices that have sustained generations.
Another captivating site to explore is the Mar Elias Church, located in the village of Fuhais. This beautifully preserved 19th-century Greek Orthodox church is adorned with intricate artwork and religious artefacts, offering a glimpse into Jordan’s religious and cultural heritage.
For those intrigued by religious history, the Tell Mar Elias archaeological site is a must-visit. Believed to be the biblical site where the prophet Elijah resided, this ancient hilltop location not only holds historical significance but also offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.
Ajloun’s strategic location makes it an ideal starting point for further exploration of the region. Just a short drive away is the magnificent ancient city of Jerash, one of the best-preserved Roman cities in the world. Walking through its colonnaded streets and marvelling at its grand amphitheatre, you’ll be transported back in time to the glory days of the Roman Empire.
Another remarkable archaeological site within easy reach of Ajloun is Umm Qais. This site boasts extensive Roman ruins, including a well-preserved theater and a mausoleum, as well as breathtaking panoramic views of the Jordan Valley and the Sea of Galilee.
Beyond its historical and natural attractions, Ajloun offers a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Jordanians are known for their hospitality, and the locals of Ajloun exemplify this trait. Whether you choose to stay in a traditional guesthouse or a modern hotel, you’ll be greeted with open arms and genuine smiles. The locals take pride in their town’s heritage and are often eager to share their knowledge of the area, recommend hidden gems, and provide insights into the local way of life.
Ajloun’s tranquil atmosphere, natural beauty, and historical significance make it an ideal destination for those seeking a peaceful retreat and a deeper understanding of Jordan’s past. Whether you’re exploring the impressive castle, immersing yourself in the serenity of nature, or experiencing the warmth of the local community, Ajloun offers a unique and enriching experience for visitors. It showcases the rich tapestry of Jordan’s heritage and the country’s commitment to preserving its historical and natural treasures.