Forum

Top choice roman site

in Jerash

Whatever the light and whatever the weather, the forum, with its organ-pipe columns arranged around an unusual oval-shaped plaza, is always breathtaking. It's one of Jerash's undisputed highlights. This immense space (90m long and 80m at its widest point) lies in the heart of the city, linking the main thoroughfare (the cardo maximus) with the Temple of Zeus. It served as a marketplace and the main locus of the city’s social and political life.

Today it still draws crowds, with Jordanian families picnicking and site guards napping among the columns. And what superb columns they are! Constructed in the middle of the 1st century AD, the forum is surrounded by 56 unfluted Ionic columns, each made from four solid cuts of stone that appear double in number because of their shadow. The plaza itself is just as spectacular, paved with extremely high-quality limestone slabs. The slabs, which increase in size as they radiate from the middle, create a sense of vortex that draws your eye to the centre point. To appreciate this effect fully you need an aerial view, which can be gained from climbing the steps to the Temple of Zeus.