Um Qais, or Gadara - site of the famous Gadarene swine - was renowned in its time as a cultural center. It was the home of several classical poets and philosophers, including Theodorus, founder of the School of Rhetorics in Rome; one poet called the city "a new Athens." Perched on a splendid hilltop overlooking the Jordan Valley and the Sea of Galilee, Um Qeis boasts an impressive colonnaded terrace and the ruins of two theaters.
You can take a walk in the sights and then dine on the terrace of a fine restaurant with a breathtaking view of three countries.
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Just north of the North Theater blackened basalt Corinthian columns stand in the memory of the great Basilica of Gadara.
The spectacular view from the Basilical Terrace has added to its downfall for winds have eroded them. The west side of the Basilica was once bordered with a row of shops. Of the fourteen barrel-vaulted chambers, little remains to indicate that there were ever shops. At right -angles to where the shops stood, runs what remains of Gadara’s main road: Decumanus Maximus where the city’s baths were. Across the main road is the Nymphaeum.
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Um Qais, Gadara, commands a great view over the north Jordan Valley, the Sea of Galilee (lake Tiberias), the Yarmouk River ravine and the Golan Heights of Syria.
The acropolis (fortress) was the most important part of Gadara. There were square-shaped low buildings on the acropolis hill that were part of the Ottoman village.
Many excavated objects are in museums now. A walk through the Museum of Jordanian Heritage at Yarmouk University, half and hour from Um Qais, is a particularly fitting complement to a visit to Gadara.
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