Look up to Jabal Al Qala’a (Citadel) hill from downtown Amman and you will see two pillars of the Temple of Hercules rising toward the sky. The temple was built the in the 2nd century, but many of its mysteries remain unsolved today. Historians are not sure to which god the temple was dedicated or why it was left unfinished. The panoramic views of Amman are worth the visit alone, especially at sunset.
Take the time to find out about the hill’s fascinating history before you visit. Rising 2,788 feet (850 meters) above sea level, Jabal Al Qala’a hill has been inhabited for thousands of years, since the Bronze Age. When the Romans arrived, they cleared the site and began work on their settlement. Many far older artifacts have been found in the ruins.
The temple was originally connected to the Roman Forum, the center of activity in the ancient town. Walk around the enormous columns and imagine them intact. They originally reached heights of 33 feet (10 meters) and formed the entrance to the inner sanctum of the temple. The columns are undecorated, leading some to believe that the temple was abandoned before it was ever finished.
While the structure is referred to as the “Temple of Hercules,” opinion is divided as to whether the temple was in fact dedicated to this god. Take a look at the enormous hand carved from marble, one of the most interesting pieces at the site. Some experts believe that the well-manicured hand belonged to a statue of Hercules that reached 40 feet (12 meters) tall. However, some say that the hand is too feminine and would have belonged to a statue of a woman.
It is possible to walk to the Temple of Hercules from downtown Amman, but the hike is very steep. Instead, save your energy and take a taxi to the top. From its cliffside setting, the temple offers a panoramic view of Amman that is particularly beautiful at sunset. Tickets allow entry to all of the Citadel complex. Admission is free with the Jordan Pass.