Lonely Planet Writer

A photographer has documented the rich architecture and history of Jordan in stunning detail

A photographer has shared a comprehensive visual guide to the history of Jordan, featuring stunning imagery of architectural sites and ancient monuments across the nation.

Jordan
Crusader-era citadel of Karak in central Jordan. Image by Bashar Tabbah
An inner room at Qasr Hallabbat, originally a Greek fort turn roman castle turned Umayyad palace.
An inner room at Qasr Hallabbat, originally a Greek fort turned Umayyad palace. Image by Bashar Tabbah
The Jordan Project
The Crypt of Saint Ellanus, in Madaba, Jordan. Image by Bashar Tabbah
Jordan History
The Crusader era castle of Ajloun at sunset. Image by Bashar Tabbah

Called, The Jordan Project, the series was started in 2013 by photography enthusiast and native Jordanian Bashar Tabbah, who set out on a mission to capture some of the most fascinating and frequently overlooked archaeological and religious sites the country has to offer. ‘Growing up in Jordan fosters a love of exploration and a thirst for knowledge, as well as a connection to the people who have come before. It is a very unique place for photographers, but much of its heritage has only been photographed through the lens of either archaeology or tourism, which tends to only focus on the same ten to fifteen sites,’ Bashar told Lonely Planet Travel News.

Inner stone hallway of a roman theatre, taken a night in Um Qais, Northern Jordan.
Inner stone hallway of a Roman theatre, taken a night in Um Qais, Northern Jordan. Image by Bashar Tabbah
Jordan Photography
A branch of the Hijaz railway that connected Damascus to Medina, primarily used to transport pilgrims. Image by Bashar Tabbah
Jordan
Wadi Rim Nature reserve in Jordan. Image by Bashar Tabbah
Jordan
Byzantine era Church, located in the north of Jordan in a city known as Umm al Jimal. Image by Bashar Tabbah

Bashar sought advice from architectural photographer Will Pryce on how best to approach the project, before investing in a full frame camera and teaching himself the advanced techniques of photography. ‘I convinced one of my close friends to visit an abandoned roman fort in the Jordanian desert known as Qasr Bshir. The location was remote and needed a 4×4 to reach. At the time I believed that it was one of the few remaining sites that I had not seen, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. The adventure proved to be so much fun that we decided to dedicate each weekend to visiting a new site. Within six months we had visited and explored over 80 locations,’ he said.

Jordan
The Roman temple of Hercules in the capital Amman, previously a temple of the Ammonites, who gave their name to the city. Image by Bashar Tabbah
The Colonaded street in Jarash, a Roman metropolis that thrived for centuries.
The Colonaded street in Jarash, a Roman metropolis that thrived for centuries. Image by Bashar Tabbah
The Jordan Project
The Mamluk Era shrine to Aaron, brother of Moses, located on Mount Aaron in Petra. Image by Bashar Tabbah
Ancient foundations of a Roman/Byzantine village overlook the modern dam in northern Jordan.
Ancient foundations of a Roman/Byzantine village overlook the modern dam in northern Jordan. Image by Bashar Tabbah

So far, Bashar has documented 300 unique sites in Jordan and covered a distance of 10,000 kilometres, often showcasing the exquisiteness of the ancient architecture juxtaposed with the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape and environment. As well as photographing the locations, Bashar has written an estimated 75,000 words of corresponding historical context and background.

Interior of the shrine to Solomon, located near the city of Irbid.
Interior of the shrine to Solomon, located near the city of Irbid. Image by Bashar Tabbah
Qasr Bshir, a Roman cavalry fortress and the first site to be included in The Jordan Project.
Qasr Bshir, a Roman cavalry fortress and the first site to be included in The Jordan Project. Image by Bashar Tabbah
Al mazar mauselium near Karak, where three of the prophet Muhammad's companions are buried.
Al Mazar mausoleum near Karak, where three of the prophet Muhammad’s companions are buried. Image by Bashar Tabbah
A single surviving window in the Roman city of Um al Jimal. The city was devastated by earthquakes over the century.
A single surviving window in the Roman city of Um al Jimal. The city was devastated by earthquakes over the century. Image by Bashar Tabbah

A book of Bashar’s work is due to be published this year, featuring over 200 photographs from 116 locations presented in chronological order and supported with individual anecdotes for each site. More of Bashar’s work is available to view on his website.

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