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Jordan: Umm Qais

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Umm Qais | Jordan | Asia

[Visited: November 2002]

Umm Qais, or Gadara as it was called in ancient times, flourished from around 200 BCE to 747 CE, when it was largely destroyed by an earthquake and abandoned. What remains, are ruins of a city which was part of the Decapolis, or ten cities, conglomerate. When you enter, you first see the remains of the city wall. You enter through a side entrance, and as you walk up to a hill, below you discern columns marking the main street in a distance. To the right, you can then enter the West Theatre, made completely out of black basalt rock and for this reason alone quite a special sight. The theatre was not only used for plays, but also for political gatherings.

Picture of Umm Qais (Jordan): Umm Qais: basalt columns of former church

Further on, you walk along what once was the shopping street of Umm Qais, and you see the remains of a church above. As I walked on, I turned left on the main street. Here, I saw remains of a basilica built on a Roman mausoleum. It is thought that it was here that Jezus drew the devil out of two men, and that for this reason Umm Qais became a pilgrimage site. Furthermore, there are remains of the city gate, of other temples, and of a huge bath complex.

Picture of Umm Qais (Jordan): Basalt columns in Umm Qais

Walking the other way, passing what once was a nymphaeum, I ended up at the other former entrance gate. It was here that the North Theatre once stood - now you can only discern the form of the theatre - its stones have all been taken away and used in local houses. Opposite the theatre was a temple probably dedicated to Zeus, but there is very little left of it. Going back to the main street I then visited the old church which was constructed in the 4th century. It is here that both black and white columns stand together, and it is here that you can have a nice view over the Galilei lake and the Golan height.

Picture of Umm Qais (Jordan): Umm Qais: black and white columns
Picture of Umm Qais (Jordan): Ancient West theatre, Umm Qais
Picture of Umm Qais (Jordan): Colonnaded street in Umm Qais
Picture of Umm Qais (Jordan): Remains of shops and temple, Umm Qais
Picture of Umm Qais (Jordan): Northern Theatre, Umm Qais
Picture of Umm Qais (Jordan): Umm Qais: Colonnaded street
Picture of Umm Qais (Jordan): Marble columns, Umm Qais
Picture of Umm Qais (Jordan): White columns in Umm Qais
Picture of Umm Qais (Jordan): Mortuarium at Umm Qais
Picture of Umm Qais (Jordan): Mosaics in Umm Qais museum

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