Adventure at Random: ‘Iraq al-Amir

Lauren Kardos, a student at The George Washington University, studied with AMIDEAST in Amman, Jordan for the 2011 Spring and Summer programs following her evacuation from Cairo. In this post, she discusses a small excursion taken with friends to a Hellenistic palace outside of Amman. Originally it was published on her blog on March 27, 2011.


Several of my friends and I decided that Saturdays are designated adventure days. Keeping with that tradition, Allegra, Kelsey and I left around noon prayers on the 26th to head to the villiage of ’Iraq al-Amir 17 km outside of Amman. A short paragraph in Allegra’s guidebook said that in this village is one of the best preserved Hellenistic palaces in the Middle East with surrounding burials caves. Of course we had to check it out. We found out from our program manager how to get there by mini-bus and with some searching and asking around, we easily found out buses. We took a 35 qirsh (cent) mini-bus trip to the Amman suburb of Wadi Al-Seer, where we found a bus taking us to ’Iraq al-Amir for only 40 qirsh. Getting around was so wonderfully cheap, and the mini-buses here are not as questionable as Cairo’s. 

Once there, any traces of city was non-existent. The air was fresh and clean, and everything smelled of flowers and farming. The fields and small establishments were so gorgeous. It was a beautiful village where everyone (even the children) were extremely friendly and welcoming. The ruins and the caves were free of charge, and we were able to roam about on our free will. We picnicked on some old pillars around the palace on some left-over hummus and yougurt with bread and roamed around some more.

Qasr al-Abd


Inside Qasr al-Abd


Great preservation of Qasr al-Abd


Qasr Al-Abd (Palace of the Slave) at ’Iraq al-Amir – here is an excerpt from the wikipedia article about it.

“Qasr al Abd is a large ruin in western Jordan  dating from approximately 200BC, and standing in the valley of Wadi Seer, approximately 17 kilometres west of Amman, close to the village of ‘Iraq al-Amir. According to a local legend, Tobiad was a commoner who fell in love with the daughter of a nobleman. When he asked for her hand in marriage, the nobleman said that Tobiad could only have her hand if he built the so-called “Castle of the Slave.” After completing the castle, the nobleman had Tobiad killed as he did not want his daughter marrying a commoner.”

After exploring the palace, we climbed up on the hillside to some of the burial caves. While they are all practically empty now, it was interesting seeing how they were carved out and some of the old Aramaic writing in the stone.

Burial Caves at 'Iraq al-Amir

 After exploring here, we went down to relax at a little roadside store for a few minutes. Across from this was a woman’s handicraft market which we visited. They had a ceramics workshop, a paper-making workshop, and different textile and jewelery items. It was really nice and I defintely plan on going back and supporting the women of ‘Iraq al-Amir.

The weather was beautiful and it was nice to get out of the city for a few hours (for so cheaply!). Adventure day success! We were so proud of ourselves for getting around for less than 2 JD all day, befriending the locals, and getting some great Arabic practice in.


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Filed under Adventure, Arabic, Jordan

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