temple of hercules citadel amman

The Citadel Tours


The L-shaped citadel hill, inhabited at least since the Early Bronze Age, was fortified at various times thereafter, including massive walls of the Middle Bronze Age. These have recently been excavated on the south-east side of the hill. There are only scant architectural remains from these early times -most of what we see today is from the Roman, Byzantine or Umayyad periods, whose monuments overlie what was there before.

The most significant Roman structure, the temple of Hercules, was built, according to an inscription, when Geminius Marcianus was governor of the Province of Arabia (AD 162-166), and was dedicated to the co-emperors Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus. It was not the first sanctuary on this site – remains have been found of an Iron Age shrine, probably dedicated to the Ammonite god Milcom; and the great exposed rock at the heart of the temple of Hercules is thought to have been part of an even earlier sanctuary.

Stones and columns from the temple were re-used in the 5th/6th-century church that lies north-east of it, built to serve the spiritual needs of the small Christian community that remained on the citadel as part of a residential and industrial complex.

In the Umayyad period Roman building material was again re-used to create a palace and administrative offices in what may have been a second Roman temple precinct. It was the headquarters of the provincial governor, appointed by the Umayyad Caliphs in Damascus. Still standing to its full height (though recently restored with a wooden dome), is the monumental entrance hall, a grand waiting room for those wishing to see the governor. Between this and the only modern building on the citadel (the Archaeological Museum) lie the remains of the Umayyad mosque, while to the west of the hall is the large circular cistern which supplied the palace with water.