Temple of Zeus


Built in AD 162 over the remains of an earlier Roman temple, the Temple of Zeus was once approached by a magnificent stairway leading from the temenos (sacred courtyard). Today, lizards sun themselves in the cracks of pavement, oblivious to the holy sacrifices that used to take place here. Positioned on the summit of the hill, the temple towers above the city. Despite erosion and earthquakes, enough of this once-beautiful building remains to allow visitors to understand its former importance.

A path leads from the temenos to the temple, via a welcome stand of trees. You can pause here for a panorama of the forum and a small hill of pines. As you walk from the trees to the temple, notice the intricate friezes of floral and figurative motifs unearthed by French excavations. The delicacy of the design contrasts strikingly with the massive size of the building blocks that comprise the temple's inner sanctum.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Jerash attractions

1. Vaulted Gallery

The vaulted passageway under the courtyard of the Temple of Zeus is a good starting point in Jerash's ancient city. When your eyes become accustomed to…

2. Lookout

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Near the South Theatre, this viewpoint offers a panorama of the forum and beyond – one of the first opportunities to truly take in the size of Jerash.

3. Forum

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Whatever the light and whatever the weather, the forum, with its organ-pipe columns arranged around an unusual oval-shaped plaza, is always breathtaking…

4. Upper Temple of Zeus

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Though most of it has collapsed, this temple has imposing 15m-high columns that are some of Jerash's most dramatic. The thick walls of the sanctum still…

5. South Gate

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Two hundred metres north of the hippodrome is the imposing South Gate, which was likely constructed in AD 130 and originally served as one of four…

6. South Theatre

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As you enter the South Theatre through a wooden door between the arches, there’s little to suggest the treasure encased by the plain exterior. But then…

7. Museum

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Before you finish exploring ancient Jerash, visit this compact museum and visitor centre just above the forum. It houses a small but worthwhile selection…

8. Agora

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On the western side of the cardo maximus is the agora, where people gathered for public meetings around the central fountain.