Amman, what to say about it? Well, the first thing I would say is that Amman is not pretty at all. It is consistent of boring sand-colour cubic apartment blocks, shopping malls resembling ugly 1970s western architecture with reflective glass. Amman seems to be Westernising. Glass skyscrapers about 170 metres high are being built, but those are architecturally horrendous and no landmarks anyone would want their city to have. The city is truly built for the car. Amman has crazy deep modern viaducts under massive junctions with flyovers in every direction as you speed underneath congested roundabouts. There are SO many cars, everywhere and some places don’t even have sidewalks to walk on. As to a public transport system, there is no metro system and only a handful of bus lines.
You know how we in Europe (and probably the US too) have Oriental fantasies in our heads of elegant Arabic princesses in smoky desert-like Moorish buildings. Houses filled with shisha’s, bowls of fruit, flutist ambient music with beautiful women singing high tones? Well, Amman slams you in the face, back into 21st-century Arabic reality. It is not like the perception most of us Westerners have, although you do get a big bowl of fruit after you had dinner in a restaurant.
I remember Morocco had really cute medina’s and souks that resembled that Orientalist image, with stuff you do want to buy as a tourist. I tried looking for those in Amman but these kinds of markets were just not there. The centre is just busy and does have markets but all the clothes are ugly, and Western department stores are not what I go to another continent for. It is a shame, because I feel Amman has a lot of potential. It is a big city and with some interesting sites and good tourist marketing it could be more affluent and interesting than it is now. Judging from Amman’s municipal website they do not seem to be very keen on attracting tourists. Strange, considering the economic importance of tourism in Jordan.
I must say however, not all is bad in Amman. The city does have pretty sights from time to time, and because the city is built on a few hills the view is amazing if you’re on top of one, just look at the pictures! In a strange way all the ugly four-to-eight story flats in sandy colours work together perfectly when you have a view. My most memorable moments were during the prayer time when all the minarets began echoing with the call to prayer, adhan. Hearing the voices coming from all directions, was quite a memorable experience. Amman has a bizarre high (like 120 metres high) flagpole with the Jordanian flag on it speaking of the prevalent Jordanian nationalist. The city is too rich in history, with that come amazing archaeological artefacts from times beyond history.. That is fun to see, but in truth, I would not go back to Amman! As for the rest of Jordan, that’s another story.