20 Fascinating Facts about Jerash, Jordan’s Roman City

The ancient city of Jerash, nestled within the captivating country of Jordan, stands as a testament to the grandeur and resilience of civilizations that have shaped the course of history. As you learn about Jerash, you’ll uncover a fascinating narrative that weaves together the threads of time, revealing a world where the stories of the past continue to echo through the centuries.

I’ve been to Jerash multiple times as part of my travels in Jordan, and love exploring it with new visitors – it’s one of those places that really cements the incredible history and heritage of civilization in this corner of the world.

Whether you’re planning a trip to Jordan or just researching a school paper, these facts about Jerash will inspire you to dig deeper: Jerash is an incredible place and I hope you’re able to see it for yourself someday.

5 Must-Know Facts about Jerash

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  1. Let’s begin with the most popular facts about Jerash: Jerash is one of the best-preserved Roman cities outside of Italy, and its ruins are a testament to the power and influence the Roman Empire held around the globe.
  2. Here’s one of the most interesting linguistic Jerash facts: the name Gerasa is believed to have originated from the Semitic word for “rocky.”
  3. The ancient city of Jerash was home to more than 1000 columns, of which 56 are still standing today.
  4. Such an outrageous amount of columns earned Jerash the nickname “The City of 1,000 Columns;” it s also called the “Pompeii of the Middle East.”
  5. Today, Jerash is one of Jordan’s most popular spots for travelers, second after Petra

Fascinating Facts about Jerash History

As you might expect from a city of ruins, there are tons of historic facts about Jerash. Here are a few of the most important ones.

  1. While it reached its peak under Roman rule, Jerash is believed to have been inhabited since the Neolithic Era and used to be known as Gerasa.
  2. In August 2015, archeologists from the University of Jordan found in Jerash two human skulls that date back to the Neolithic period.
  3. Back to the Roman period, Jerash formed part of the Roman province of Syria when General Pompey came to conquer the region in 64 BC. 
  4. Jerash grew so much that it became one of the 10 cities of the Decapolis league – a group of ten Hellenistic cities located in the Southern Levant in the first centuries BC and AD.
  5. By the third century AD, Jerash had become a thriving center of trade and up to 20,000 people lived there!
  6. Speaking of people from Jerash, Jerash was the birthplace of the mathematician Nicomachus of Gerasa, one of the most famous Pythagoreans. 
  7. All the success Jerash saw in the Roman period started to decline in the 3rd Century.
  8. The Persian and then the Muslim invasions, combined with devastating earthquakes, completely destroyed the city. 
  9. From the 13th Century onward, Jerash was deserted until it reappeared in the historical record at the beginning of Ottoman rule in the area during the early 16th century. 

Facts About Different Ruins in Jerash

In addition to general historical facts about Jerash, there are also some interesting facts about specific features and aspects of the city.

  1. The city’s South Theater is one of the best-preserved Roman theaters in the world. 
  2. The South Theater was built between 90-92AD during the reign of Emperor Domitian and has a capacity of 3000 spectators. Best of all, it’s still functioning! 
  3. The city’s Arch of Hadrian was built in 129AD to honor the visit of Roman Emperor Hadrian to Jerash. 
  4. For many, the Oval Forum is one of the most fascinating facts about Jerash. The city is home to the Oval Forum, one of the impressive structures built by the Romans. By classical standards, this plaza would normally have been square or rectangular, but here, it’s oval. 
  5. Most of Jerash’s popular monuments from the Greco-Roman period were built by donations of the city’s wealthy citizens. Talk about the power of community, huh?
  6. This is one of the most interesting Jerash facts. One of the city’s columns stands quietly in Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens. Let me explain: it was 1964-65 and the New York World’s Fair and the City of New York was taking place. His Majesty King Hussein of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan decided to present a 30-foot column from Jerash. So there you go. A column from 120 AD stands in a park in Queens. Who’d have thought it? 

Have any questions about the Roman heritage in Jordan or these fascinating facts about Jerash? Let me know in the comments below!

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I fell in love with Jordan after my first visit in 2016; now I love returning to explore more – and writing guides to help you do the same.

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