Amman’s Citadel, also known as Jabal Al-Qal’a to locals, holds a bounty of interesting relics for the Ancient Roman and Byzantine history buff travelling in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Among these relics would be the Amman Temple of Hercules, a ruin that presents one of the most picturesque settings in the area.
The Amman Temple of Hercules is actually situated near several other ruins of great interest to many a Jordan traveller. On the same hill, for instance, one may find the Jordan Archaeological Museum, which is definitely worthy of mention if only for the fact that it not only holds the one existing Dead Sea Scroll of copper but also holds the ‘Ain Ghazala statuettes, curious figurines that are among the oldest sculptures of and by humans, having been made in the Neolithic. Even nearer the temple are the ruins of a Byzantine Church constructed when Amman was still Philadelphia, and near that would be the remnants of a mosque as well as an Umayyad palace. In the midst of so many places of interest, one might wonder how the Temple of Hercules does not manage to get lost or set to the side.
Perhaps it is the sheer romanticism of its appearance. As far as ruins go, the Temple of Hercules in Amman is certainly dramatic, a set of crumbling rock foundations and bricks greyed with age, yet still defiant of time. Some of the columns that once propped up the original structure so many years ago (the temple was erected around the time of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, which dates it to 2nd century CE) are still standing, and two of them still have the lintel they originally supported, forming a sort of trabeate arch under which many a tourist has stood to take advantage of a photo opportunity. And beyond that would be Amman spread below the hill, which means there are no modern structure nearby that might infringe immediately on the romanticism of the scene. A sunset here, as well as a sunrise, sees the whole of the temple bathed in the angled rays of the sun, the shadows of the 10-metre columns sketching out to one side on the earth.
But probably another thing that makes the Amman Temple of Hercules so especially irresistible to tourists in the capital of Jordan is the statue of Hercules himself. Or rather, to be more precise, the ruins of the statue. This huge figure is said to have stood at no fewer than 13 metres in height, rendering it probably as tall as the temple itself. It once stood next to it, most likely, and its remains are now situated so close to the remains of the temple that you can take a photo of the sculpture’s remnants with those of the temple as a background. The ruins of the ancient sculpture are meagre by relativity, as all that remains would be one of the hands and the elbow. But once you actually get close enough to said ruins, they do not seem so meagre anymore, for the hand of a 13-metre statue would of necessity be large. Do not forget to take a photo of yourself next to the hand, which seems poised to crawl up the shelf of earth on which its curled fingers are resting.