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Umm Qais

Where to go in Jordan Umm Qais

Site of the famous miracle of the Gadarene swine, Gadara was renowned in its time as a cultural centre. It was the home of several classical poets and philosophers, including Theodorus, founder of a rhetorical school in Rome, and was once called “a new Athens” by a poet. Perched on a splendid hilltop overlooking the Jordan Valley and the Sea of Galilee, Gadara is known today as Umm Qais, and boasts an impressive colonnaded street, a vaulted terrace, and the ruins of two theatres. You can take in the sights and then dine on the terrace of a fine restaurant with a breathtaking view.
The Al-Himma therapeutic hot springs are located around 10km north of Umm Qays and were once highly regarded by the Romans. There are two bathing facilities: a privately-run complex, and a public bath complex, with separate timetables for men and women.

Umm Qais, situated 110 km north of Amman on a broad promontory 378 meters above sea level with a magnificent view over the Yarmouk River, the Golan Heights, and Lake Tiberias, this town was known as Gadara, one of the most brilliant ancient Greco-Roman cities of the Decapolis; and according to the Bible, the spot where Jesus (pbuh) cast out the Devil from two demoniacs (mad men) into a herd of pigs (Mathew 8:28-34).

Umm Qais's charm still lingers today. A large portion of the western Roman Theater has survived history's upheavals. Vaulted passageway supports its rows of seats, built of hard basalt stones. A row of elaborately carved seats for dignitaries stand near the orchestra, and in the center was a large headless white marble statue of Tyche, goddess of fortune and of the city, now displayed at the local museum.

Across from the theater is the main colonnaded street (cardo), which was in all likelihood the town's commercial center. Also, near the black basalt theater is the Terrace, which hosts a courtyard, a church and a basilica. Further west of the Terrace and along the east-west colonnaded street (decumanus), ruins of the Nymphaeum, a bath complex and a well-preserved Roman Mausoleum can be seen. After a few hundred meters one can barely make out remains of what was once a Hippodrome.

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