In the northwestern corner of Jordan, in the hills above the Jordan Valley, are the ruins of the Decapolis city of Gadara, now called Umm Qais. The site is striking because of its juxtaposition of Roman ruins with an abandoned Ottoman-era village, as well as its tremendous vantage point, with views of three countries (Jordan, Syria, and Israel and the Palestinian Territories), encompassing the Golan Heights, Mt Hermon and the Sea of Galilee.
According to the Bible, it was here that Jesus performed the miracle of the Gadarene swine: casting the demons out of two men into a herd of pigs.
Today Umm Qais is at the forefront of community-tourism development in Jordan, and it's worth staying a night or two to enjoy an increasing array of options, from hiking and biking to beekeeping, foraging and cooking classes.
These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Umm Qais.
Entering Umm Qais from the south, the first structure of interest is the well-restored and brooding West Theatre. Constructed from black basalt, it once…
This viewpoint offers tremendous vistas over Israel and the Palestinian Territories across the Sea of Galilee and the Golan Heights.
Housed in Beit Russan, the former residence of an Ottoman governor, this modest museum is set around an elegant and tranquil courtyard of fig trees. The…
Roman SiteDecumanus Maximus
Still paved to this day, the main road through the site once linked Gadara with other nearby ancient cities such as Abila and Pella. In its heyday, the…
Surrounding the museum are the comprehensive ruins of an Ottoman village dating from the 18th and 19th centuries. Two houses, Beit Malkawi (now used as an…
A bit of imagination is needed to reconstruct the colonnaded courtyard of the Basilica Terrace, the western section of which housed a row of shops. The…
West along the decumanus maximus are the overgrown public baths. Built in the 4th century, this would once have been an impressive complex of fountains …
TombTomb of Modestus
The thick stone doors of this Roman tomb outside the main archaeological area still swing on ancient hinges. Nearby are the less notable tombs of Germani…
The North Theatre is overgrown and missing much of its original black-basalt stones, which were recycled by villagers in other constructions, but it's…
The shells of a row of shops remain in the western section of what was once the colonnaded courtyard of the Basilica Terrace.
This public water fountain, once a two-storey complex with a large covered cistern, has niches for statues of the water goddesses.
The decumanus maximus continues west of the main site for 1km or so, leading to some ruins of limited interest, including baths, mausoleums and gates…
This small mosque, no longer consecrated, is at the heart of the old Ottoman village of Umm Qais.
Whether it’s a guided tour of a historic landmark, private tasting of local delicacies, or an off-road adventure — explore the best experiences in Umm Qais.