UMM QAIS (أم قيس)

We spent a night in the northwestern corner of Jordan, in the hills above the Jordan Valley, where the ruins of the Decapolis city of Gadara are now called Umm Qais. The site is striking because it juxtaposes Roman ruins with an abandoned Ottoman-era village. It also has a tremendous vantage point, with views of three countries (Jordan, Syria, Israel, and the Palestinian Territories), encompassing the Golan Heights, Mt Hermon, and the Sea of Galilee.

Umm Qais is mentioned in the Bible as the location where Jesus performed the miracle of the Gadarene Swine. Gadara was located on the trade route between Syria and Palestine. It became a popular holiday resort for Romans and was notable for attracting scholars, writers, and artists. The Romans ruled it as part of the Decapolis League around 63 BC, and the city was a reward for King Herod the Great in 31 BC. The site boasts an impressive colonnaded street, a vaulted Basilica terrace, Roman tombs, remains of the Ottoman village, and the ruins of two theatres.

Parking location – Umm Qais: 32.654224N 35.678320E (🚻)