Saturday, November 05, 2011

Pilgrimage to Jordan: Gadara and Ajloun

A couple weeks ago, I was blessed to be able to make a pilgrimage with my father to Jordan, a continuation of our pilgrimage to Jerusalem almost two years ago. We arrived rather late on Friday day and went straight to our hotel in Amman. On our first day, we headed to Gadara, on a hill on the east side of the Sea of Galilee, where Christ met the two demoniacs and cast them into a herd of swine, which ran down the hill into the sea.

Above is a photo of my dad exploring the ancient theater of Gadara, which was one of the cities of the Greco-Roman Decapolis. It was an important city of Byzantium until it was captured by the Muslims following the nearby Battle of Yarmouk in 636, one of the most important battles in history. Gadara was destroyed by an earthquake in 747 and abandoned.

Above, some of the ruins of the city.

Gadara's ruins are somewhat limited, but the view more than makes up for it. We stopped and had a coffee at a restaurant inside the site, from which we could sit and survey the Sea of Galilee (only 6 miles away). We could even make out the city of Tiberias in Israeli-controlled Palestine on the western shore of the sea, which you can see above and to the left of my dad in the photo above.

Besides the border with Israel only 6 miles away, we were even closer to the border with Syria or, more precisely, the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, which you can see to the right of my dad in the photo above.

Above and below, shots of Gadara's main street.

After Gadara, we headed south to Aljoun, the site of a Muslim castle built by a nephew of Saladin in the late 12th century to defend against the Crusaders.

Here's a photo of my dad walking up the initial stairs into the castle.

Here's my dad looking out onto the modern city of Ajloun from the castle's walls.

For more photos from our first day in Jordan, click here.

Stay tuned for entries about the rest of our pilgrimage.

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