Discover ancient castles and pilgrimage sites set amid a region of spectacular forest reserves in the northwest of Jordan.
Ajloun Governorate is an administrative division of Jordan nestled within the country’s verdant northern highlands. It boasts a pristine landscape of pine forest and olive groves, which are unique to an almost predominately desert nation. Ajloun Governorate sits at a historically significant trading route between Greater Syria and the Mediterranean Sea and was used as a stronghold by the Ottoman Empire. Tour the castles, nature reserves and villages that have been attracting artists, poets and writers for centuries.
A great place to start is in the town of Ajloun, where zigzagging streets wind down hillsides and rolling green hills rise above a medley of sand-colored buildings. Visit the 800-year-old Great Ajloun Mosque and the Ajloun Holy Spirit Church. Market stalls meticulously laid out with fresh fruits and vegetables, chillies and spices line the streets.
Ajloun Castle, built in the 1100s to protect Ajloun from the Franks and Crusaders, dominates the skyline to the west of the town center. Walk around its maze of rooms, browse museum exhibits and enjoy views over the Jordan Valley toward the Dead Sea. A trail winds uphill from the castle to the archaeological site of Tell Mar Elias, which is the supposed birthplace of the Prophet Elijah. See the ruins of one of Jordan’s oldest churches, stone carvings and mosaics.
Spot hyaenas, foxes, roe deer and squirrels while hiking the hills, valleys and woodland of Ajloun Forest Reserve. Villages within the reserve offer the chance to experience local customs. Watch soap-making demonstrations at The Soap House and learn about aspects of Islamic culture at The House of Calligraphy. Al Ma’wa For Nature and Wildlife, 11 miles (18 kilometers) west of Ajloun, is a refuge for rescued wildlife such as bears and lions.
Ajloun Governorate is about 47 miles (75 kilometers) north of Amman, Jordan’s capital city. Public buses travel from Amman and Jerash to Ajloun. Renting a car is a popular option to get around Jordan’s major attractions.