Hills and circles to find your way around Amman

Finding one’s way around Amman is not an easy task: in addition to the logical difficulties posed by a different language and alphabet, in this case Arabic, we must add its uneven terrain and its growth without a rational pattern. Therefore, if you plan to take a free tour of the capital of Jordan to discover some of its most interesting corners, we recommend you take a look at these lines that will help you move through its streets.

The Amman Hills: What They Are

Amman is a city with a long history and its origins date back several millennia BC. But a key period in its history was the Roman era, when it received the name Philadelphia. At that time, the city stretched over seven hills ( jabal ), just like the capital of that empire, Rome.

The subsequent growth of the city caused it to spread even more over the surrounding irregular terrain, where there are many more hills, and today there are about twenty more or less inhabited and urbanized elevations. However, from a tourist point of view, it can be said that there are three main hills, which it will be good for you to visit for interest:

  • Jabal al-Qal’a: it is the highest hill in the city, at an altitude of about 850 meters, and is also the original nucleus of Amman. Here you will find some of the most historically interesting places, such as the Citadel, the Temple of Hercules or the Archaeological Museum
  • Jabal Al-Joufah: It is located south of Jabal al-Qal’a and in front of it. At the foot of this hill are some of its most renowned monuments, especially from Roman times, such as its Theatre and its Odeon
  • Jabal Amman: This is the wide hill over which what its citizens consider to be the center extends. It is located southwest of Jabal al-Qal’a and Jabal Al-Joufah. This is where Rainbow Street and the first circles run

The Amman Circles: What They Are

Amman’s circles are key concepts for finding your way around the city. In Spanish, this term is used as a translation of the English “circles”, although perhaps it would be more appropriate to speak of “roundabouts”, because after all that is what they are.

In its growth and urban expansion to the west, Amman created its road network from Rainbow Street. From there, the main artery that articulates the centre is Al Kulliyah Al Elmeyah Al Islameyah and, indeed, in it we find several roundabouts or circles. Following the east-west direction (precisely, from right to left, the direction of reading in Arabic), we list these circles according to their name:

  • 1st circle: Due to its proximity to Rainbow St., there are still shops and cafes here as on the neighboring street, as well as some cultural and official institutions
  • 2nd circle: From this circle onwards the street is called Zahran St.
  • 3rd Circle: To the north of this stretch you’ll find points of interest such as the King Abdullah Mosque and the National Gallery of Fine Arts
  • 4th Circle: To the south of this circle is Abdoun, a trendy area with embassies and cafes
  • 5th circle: next to this circle are some of the most important hotels, such as The Ritz-Carlton or the Four Seasons

The numbering continues to the 8th circle and in some cases they are more like crossings than roundabouts, according to the latest urban renovations. In any case, if you have doubts, you can always ask or indicate to the taxi driver a place of interest near that circle, to avoid confusion. And if your tour of Amman coincides with your free time on one of our tours, don’t hesitate to ask your escort guide or our agency staff for advice.

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