History & Culture

History & Culture

To learn more about History & Culture in Aqaba, please find from the items below ....

Ayla: The First Islamic City Built Outside the Arabian Peninsula

Step back in time and explore the Islamic city of Ayla, once an important stopping place for Egyptian pilgrims on their way to Mecca. Located in the heart of Aqaba’s seafront hotel district, you can see the remains of city walls, gates, a large mosque, and other buildings that played a pivotal role in the region's history.

Roman Church from the Fourth Century: A Window on the Byzantine Past of Aila

The Aqaba Church in Jordan is a 3rd-century historical marvel, regarded as the world's oldest-known purpose-built Christian church. Discovered in 1998, its architectural style includes a three-aisled basilica, and it predates other famed churches like the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Its location within the Roman Empire is likely to have saved it from destruction during the Great Persecution.

Aqaba Castle: A Chequered History

With origins dating back to the Mamluke Sultan Qanswah el-Ghawri's reign (1501-1517 AD), Aqaba Castle is a symbol of Jordan's rich past. Located along the Red Sea, this fort played a key role in defeating the Ottoman Empire. The fort underwent renovations under both Mamluk and Ottoman rule and functioned as a caravanserai and military barracks. Its main gate proudly bears the Hashemite Coat of Arms, reflecting its historical significance.

House of Sharif Hussein Bin Ali: A Glimpse into Jordan's Royal Lineage

Explore the House of Sharif Hussein Bin Ali which was once the home of the great-great-grandfather of Jordan’s current King Abdullah II. He lived in the house for six months after the First World War.

Great Arab Revolt Plaza: Saluting the Flag of Arab Independence

The Great Arab Revolt Plaza is more than a historical landmark; it's a vibrant hub of activity and beauty. Featuring one of the world's tallest unsupported flagpoles, it commemorates the Great Arab Revolt and offers an enriching experience for visitors. The plaza is replete with open spaces and an 800-seat theatre, ideal for performances and celebrations, and overlooks the old port lighthouse. Two commercial complexes are home to museums showcasing Aqaba's rich heritage, along with an enticing array of restaurants and cafés. The newly established seaport nearby adds to the area's charm with fishing and glass-bottom boats, a fish market, and additional dining options.

Fishermen Harbour: Feel the Pulse of the Red Sea

Immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of Aqaba at Fishermen Harbour which you can access from the Castle and Plaza. By sunrise and before sunset, watch as the Aqabawi fishermen bring in their catch of the day and soak up the authentic atmosphere of the Red Sea.

Al Hafayer Beach: A Peaceful Escape with Traditional Cafes

Stroll to the heart of Aqaba to relax on Al Hafayer Beach. Enjoy a peaceful meal or some hubbly bubbly in one of the traditional cafes on the waterfront or take a walk along the tree-lined boulevards and explore the vegetable orchards cultivated by the locals.

Your Name in Sand

Aqaba's craftsmen create beautiful desert scenes in small bottles filled with sand, and they're happy to customize them with your name or your loved ones. This personalized souvenir is a unique way to cherish your visit to Aqaba.

Women Associations: Where Women's Creativity Meets Aqaba's Cultural Heritage

Discover the Heart of Aqaba's Culture at Local Women's Associations. Explore the vibrant craftsmanship and rich traditions at places like Aqaba Ladies’ Association, Ayadi Market, and the House of Roses Ladies’ Association. From ceramics and handmade accessories to local culinary delights and sand art bottles, immerse yourself in authentic experiences. Participate in sewing, crafting, or cooking workshops and take home not just a product, but a piece of Aqaba's heritage. Don't miss this unique opportunity to engage with the local community and celebrate Aqaba's cultural richness.

To view Women Associations,Click Here

Savour the Sound of Aqaba's Traditional 'Simsimiya' Music

The five-stringed 'Simsimiya' instrument, originally improvised from an ancient foreign instrument, is an integral part of the Red Sea area's traditions. Experience the unique charm of this fisherman's instrument and learn about everyday life in Aqaba.

Learn some Arabic

Brush up on your Arabic skills by learning a few key phrases such as "marhaba" (hello), "shukran" (thank you), and "keefak" (how are you for a man) or "keefik" (how are you for a woman). As you become more ambitious, try learning "andak" (do you have), "shmal" (left), "yamin" (right), and "dughri" (straight on) to better navigate Aqaba's streets. Don't forget to pick up your free copy of "Say it in Arabic – Basic Arabic for Jordan" at the Aqaba Tourist Information Centre.

Design your Own Treasure

Discover the thriving jewellery industry of Aqaba, which features stunning pieces made with semiprecious stones such as lapis lazuli, amber, and amethyst. From matching necklace and earring sets to bracelets and rings, these jewellery pieces make perfect gifts for your loved ones. If you can't find what you're looking for, don't worry! The skilled craftsmen in Aqaba's jewellery shops are happy to create tailor-made pieces just for you within hours and at no extra cost.

Spice Up your Senses

Start your culinary journey and explore the exquisite flavours of Aqaba's local food. Visit the local grocery stores and pick up packs of tourist-friendly spices that include saffron, allspice, cardamom, ginger, cumin, and a variety of peppers. The aromas of these spices will guide you to the right shops. While you're there, indulge in the freshly packed almonds, pistachios, and other nuts that are available at affordable prices,To view Women Associations,Click Here

Go for Gold

If you're looking for something a little more upmarket, head over to one of Aqaba's gold shops. Here you can find a range of gold jewellery, including locally worked 21-carat gold, at unbeatable prices.

Souk Into Local Life

The Aqaba Souk is a must-visit for anyone looking to explore the city's eclectic mix of shops. Some cater to the daily needs of locals, giving you an insight into local life, while others are geared towards tourists. Here you can find handicrafts, inexpensive beachwear, new watches, and even some unexpected curiosities. All silverwork is stamped with its carat value so you can rest assured of its quality. In recent years, handicraft projects have become a major tool for social development throughout Jordan, especially for rural women. You might even see some of the craft workers on the job and have a rug made to your own design. Make sure you drop into the Ayadi market next to the city information centre to discover new and exciting keepsakes and gifts to bring home.

Explore the Places of Worship

In Aqaba, the rich tapestry of religious harmony and diverse culture is palpable. Visitors can experience this unity by exploring a variety of sacred sites. The Masjid Al-Sharif Al Hussein Bin Ali stands as a symbol of Islamic art and faith, boasting the largest dome in Jordan and adorned with intricate three-dimensional decorations. The Church of Stella Maris, with its modern style and strong lighting, represents the Christian community's presence. For those seeking tranquillity with a view, Masjid Sheikh Zayed offers a simple yet elegant space with a panoramic view of the Gulf of Aqaba. Together, these places of worship reflect Aqaba's commitment to religious coexistence and its rich cultural mosaic.

Embrace the Beauty and Tradition of Henna

Experience the beauty of henna art, an ancient tradition still practised by Arab women for hair and skin treatments. Today, henna is used alongside modern cosmetics. It's also an essential part of bridal rituals where the bride and her female guests gather for a Leylat Al Henna or Henna Night to sing and dance while the bride herself is beautified with elaborate henna tattoos on her hands and feet. Visit one of the beauty salons and get a pretty, non-permanent tattoo for yourself.

Spend a Day with an Aqabawi

The locals of Aqaba are a unique mix of Hijazi, Bedouin, Egyptian, and Levantine blood. Known for their chivalry and hospitality, they'll be more than happy to share a story or two over a cup of coffee. It's often said that people who reside by the sea are more open and exposed to travellers, and Aqaba is no exception. Enjoy the company of the friendly and curious population.

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