Theme Week Jordan – Jerash

March 24th, 2017 | Destination: | General | No Comments »

Map of Jerash © Holger Behr

Map of Jerash © Holger Behr

Jerash, the Gerasa of Antiquity, is the capital and largest city of Jerash Governorate, which is situated in the north of Jordan, 48 kilometres (30 mi) north of the capital Amman towards Syria. Jerash Governorate’s geographical features vary from cold mountains to fertile valleys from 250 to 300 metres (820 to 980 ft) above sea level, suitable for growing a wide variety of crops. In the late Ottoman period, the city’s name, Jerash, was abandoned and changed to Sakib, yet this was not a permanent development, as the name Jerash reappeared in Ottoman tax registers by the end of 16th century. A strong earthquake destroyed in 749 AD large parts of Jerash, while subsequent earthquakes along with wars and turmoil contributed to additional destruction. The ruins remained buried in the soil for hundreds of years until they were discovered by German Orientalist Ulrich Jasper Seetzen in 1806. In addition to the role of the people of old villages near Jerash, the process of building the modern city of Jerash was mainly done by the resettlement of Circassian Muslims by the Ottoman authorities; the Circassians came to Transjordan from the Caucasus after the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78. Subsequently, a community of people from Syria came to the area at the beginning of the 20th century. more…

Downtown Los Angeles

March 24th, 2017 | Destination: | General | No Comments »

© - BrianLiao/cc-by-2.0

© – BrianLiao/cc-by-2.0

Downtown Los Angeles is the central business district of Los Angeles, as well as a diverse residential neighborhood of some 58,000 people. A 2013 study found that the district is home to over 500,000 jobs. A heritage of the city’s founding in 1781, Downtown Los Angeles today is composed of different areas ranging from a fashion district to a
skid row, and it is the hub of the city’s Metro rapid transit system. Banks, department stores and movie palaces at one time drew residents and visitors into the area, but the district declined economically and suffered a downturn for decades until its recent renaissance starting in the early 2000s: Old buildings are being modified for new uses, and skyscrapers have been built. Downtown Los Angeles is known for its government buildings, parks, theaters and other public places. Within the neighborhood are included these smaller areas: Arts District, Bunker Hill, Skid Row, Civic Center, Fashion District, Financial District, Gallery Row, Historic Core, Industrial District, Jewelry District, Little Tokyo, Old Bank District, South Park, Toy District, and Wholesale District or Warehouse District. more…

Theme Week Jordan – Irbid

March 23rd, 2017 | Destination: | General | No Comments »

Jordan University of Science and Technology's Library, the largest library in the Middle East © Fawwaz Dawod/cc-by-sa-3.0

Jordan University of Science and Technology’s Library, the largest library in the Middle East © Fawwaz Dawod/cc-by-sa-3.0

Irbid, known in ancient times as Arabella or Arbela, is the capital and largest city of the Irbid Governorate. It also has the second largest metropolitan population in Jordan after Amman, with a population of around 1,088,100, and is located about 70 km north of Amman on the northern ridge of the Gilead, equidistant from Pella, Beit Ras (Capitolias), and Um Qais. It’s 20 km south of the Syrian border. Irbid is the third largest city in Jordan by population (after Amman and Zarqa). Metropolitan Irbid is the second largest. The province of Irbid Governorate has the second largest population, and the highest population density in the kingdom. The city is a major ground transportation hub between Amman, Syria to the north, and Mafraq to the east. The Irbid region is also home to several colleges and universities. more…

Theme Week Jordan – Zarqa

March 22nd, 2017 | Destination: | General | No Comments »

Zarqa River Valley © - Jim Greenhill

Zarqa River Valley © – Jim Greenhill

Zarqa is situated 15 miles (24 km) from Amman, in a northeastern most direction and is the capital of Zarqa Governorate. Its name means “the blue one”. Russeifa, the second largest city in the governorate and the fourth largest city in Jordan, is located half way between Zarqa and Amman. Zarqa is Jordan’s industrial center. It is home to over 50% of Jordanian factories. The growth of industry in the city is the result of low real estate costs and proximity to the capital Amman. Several facilities that are vital to Jordan’s economy are based in Zarqa, such as Jordan’s only oil refinery plant. According to the Zarqa Chamber of Commerce, 10% of Jordan’s total exports in 2011 came from Zarqa Governorate. Leather and garment products constituted about 52% of Zarqa’a exports, followed by chemical, agricultural and pharmaceutical products. more…

Portrait: Cnut the Great

March 22nd, 2017 | Destination: | Portrait | No Comments »

Winchester Cathedral - Burial chest of Cnut the Great © Ealdgyth

Winchester Cathedral – Burial chest of Cnut the Great © Ealdgyth

King Cnut the Great, also known as Canute, was King of Denmark, England, and Norway, together often referred to as the Anglo-Scandinavian or North Sea Empire. The North Sea Empire was one of several forerunners of the European Union and the Eurozone. After his death, the deaths of his heirs within a decade, and the Norman conquest of England in 1066, his legacy was mostly forgotten. The medieval historian Norman Cantor stated that he was “the most effective king in Anglo-Saxon history”, although Cnut himself was Danish and not a Briton or Anglo-Saxon. Cnut is popularly invoked in the context of the legend of King Canute and the waves, but usually misrepresents Cnut as a deluded monarch believing he has supernatural powers, when the original legend in fact states the opposite and portrays a wise king. more…

Theme Week Jordan – Wadi Mujib Biosphere Reserve

March 21st, 2017 | Destination: | General, UNESCO World Heritage | No Comments »

Canyon of Wadi Mujib © YousefTOmar/cc-by-sa-3.0

Canyon of Wadi Mujib © YousefTOmar/cc-by-sa-3.0

Wadi Mujib, known as the biblical River Arnon, is a river in Jordan which enters the Dead Sea c 420 metres (1,380 ft) below sea level. During the last Ice Age the water level of the Dead Sea reached 180 metres (590 ft) below sea level, about 240 metres (790 ft) higher than it is today. It flooded the lower areas of the canyons along its banks, which became bays and begun to accumulate sediments. As the climatic conditions changed, about 20,000 years ago, the water level of the lake dropped, leaving the re-emergent canyons blocked with lake marl. Most canyons managed to cut through their plugged outlets and to resume their lower courses. However, Wadi Mujib, abandoned its former outlet by breaking through a cleft in the sandstone. This narrow cleft became the bottleneck of an enormous drainage basin with a huge discharge. During the years the cleft was scoured deeper and the gorge of Wadi Mujib was formed. more…

Theme Week Jordan

March 20th, 2017 | Destination: | General, Theme Weeks | No Comments »

Petra at night © Susanahajer/cc-by-sa-3.0

Petra at night © Susanahajer/cc-by-sa-3.0

Jordan is an Arab kingdom in Western Asia, on the East Bank of the Jordan River. Jordan is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the east and south, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north, Israel, Palestine and the Dead Sea to the west and the Red Sea in its extreme south-west. Jordan is strategically located at the crossroads of Asia, Africa and Europe. The capital, Amman is Jordan’s most populous city as well as the country’s economic, political and cultural centre. Jordan is a founding member of the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and is one of two Arab states to have signed a peace treaty with Israel. Jordan has very close ties to the United States of America and is considered to be a major non-NATO ally. It enjoys “advanced status” with the European Union and is part of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), which aims to increase links between the EU and its neighbours. The country is a constitutional monarchy, but the king holds wide executive and legislative powers. In the midst of surrounding turmoil, it has been greatly hospitable, accepting refugees from almost all surrounding conflicts as early as 1948, with most notably the estimated 2.1 million Palestinians and the 1.4 million Syrian refugees residing in the country. The kingdom is also a refuge to thousands of Iraqi Christians fleeing the Islamic State. While Jordan continues to accept refugees, the recent large influx from Syria placed substantial strain on national resources and infrastructure. The UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) is the second largest employer in the country. more…

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