Jerash is one of the best preserved and most complete provincial Roman cities anywhere in the world. As you walk through the ancient city, you find yourself back in the world of the 2nd Century A.D. provincial cities along the southeastern border of the Roman Empire. Jerash is the most spectacular of these cities, ten of which were loosely allied in an association of cities called the Decapolis.
Jerash, called Gerasa in Roman times, is important not only for its individual monuments, but also for its strict and well preserved town plan, built around the colonnaded main street and several intersecting side streets. Its most noteworthy monuments include the colonnaded street, the Cardo, the South Theatre, the Temple of Zeus, the Oval Piazza, or Forum, Hadrian's Arch, the Nymphaeum, the Artemis Temple Complex and the smaller North Theatre, or Odeon.
The city's 14 churches with their fine mosaics all date from the Byzantine era, when the eastern Roman Empire looked to Constantinople for political and religious authority.
Twenty minutes west of Jerash is the 12th century Arab castle of Qalaat al Rabad, an important Arab castle in the battle against the Crusaders, and one of the finest existing examples of Arab military architecture anywhere in the Middle East.
There are four other Roman cities in Jordan that were part of the Decapolis.
Pella, on the banks of the Wadi Jirm in the northern Jordan Valley, is still being excavated and restored to its former glory. Umm Qais, ancient Gadara, is near Irbid, about 90 minutes north of Amman by car, on a wind-swept hilltop overlooking the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan Valley. A few kilometres down the hill, the thermal hot springs of Himmeh, the ancients' "hot springs of Amatha" are situated.
North of Irbid is the ancient but unexcavated Roman city of Abila. Substantial remains of the city are scattered on two adjacent hills.
The fourth Decapolis city in Jordan is Philadelphia, or modern Amman, with its large theatre, the adjacent Odeon, part of the