Jerash’s colonnaded Cardo Maximus.

©Tom Mackie/Lonely Planet

Cardo Maximus


Jerash’s superb colonnaded cardo maximus is straight in the way that only a Roman road can be. This is one of Jerash’s great highlights, and the walk along its entire 800m length from North Gate to the forum is well worth the effort. Built in the 1st century AD and complete with manholes to underground drainage, the street still bears the hallmarks of the city’s principal thoroughfare, with the ruts worn by thousands of chariots scored into the original flagstones.

The 500 columns that once lined the street were deliberately built at different heights to complement the facades of the buildings that stood behind them. Although most of the columns you see today were reassembled in the 1960s, they give an excellent impression of this spectacular thoroughfare.

There are many buildings of interest on either side of the cardo maximus, in various states of restoration and ruin. A highlight is the northern tetrapylon, an archway with four entrances.

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Nearby Jerash attractions

1. Southern Tetrapylon

0.04 MILES

Marking the intersection of the cardo maximus with the south decumanus, this four-pillared structure is in good repair.

2. Roman Ruins of Jerash

0.05 MILES

The ruined city of Jerash is Jordan's largest and most interesting Roman site, and a major tourist drawcard. Its imposing ceremonial gates, colonnaded…

3. Cathedral

0.05 MILES

South of the nymphaeum, an elaborate staircase rises from the cardo maximus to Jerash's only cathedral. Little more than a modest Byzantine church, it was…

4. South Decumanus

0.06 MILES

The south decumanus at Jerash once served as the Roman town's main east–west axis. At the eastern end is the modern mosque. Take the left fork from the…

5. Nymphaeum

0.07 MILES

On the western side of the cardo maximus is the elegant nymphaeum, the main ornamental fountain of Jerash, dedicated to the water nymphs. Built about AD…

6. Umayyad Houses

0.08 MILES

The unassuming walls of these buildings don't look especially noteworthy, but they're interesting for adding another level of historical accretion in…

7. Church of St Theodore

0.09 MILES

Little remains of this church apart from the twin colonnades (picturesquely overgrown with wildflowers in spring) and the apse, which overlooks the…

8. Propylaeum


Built in AD 150, this is the monumental gateway to the Temple of Artemis. It was originally flanked by shops.