Just north Amman, in Jordan’s Balqa Government, is a city that has been inhabited since at least the Chalcolithic period.
The ancient town of Es-Salt is home to remarkable Ottoman architecture, the legendary location of the prophet Job’s interment, and streets so narrow and winding that for some residents trash collection is done via donkey instead of vehicle.
Full of gorgeous panoramas and historic structures, Es-Salt is best appreciated by way of a strenuous trek up the historic Harmony Trail. At the end of the ascent stands a striped pink-and-white stone building locally known as al-Qal’a, Arabic for “The Castle.” In fact, it is a mosque and memorial to Ottoman soldiers who died in the vicinity during World War I. Though it requires a long hike, the view of Es-Salt from The Castle is worth the effort. On this peak, you’ll be standing atop layers and layers of history.
While it was founded by Alexander the Great, there is attestation in both written and archaeological record (some of which is on display at the city’s museum) that the area was previously settled by a Semitic-speaking people. It has seen Byzantines, Ghassanid Arabs, Mongols, Mamluks, Ottomans, Brits, and others pass through—alternatively building, ravaging, repairing, and occupying the city. However, the mark left on the city by the Ottomans has persisted.
Under these Turkish-speaking rulers, Es-Salt was the administrative capital of Jordan, and it is consequently full of stunning examples of Ottoman architecture, characterized by long arching windows and elegantly carved stone. Its style has also been influenced by Nablusi architects, who came from Palestine in the late 19th century. This city boasts the oldest public secondary school in Jordan (visible in the distance from The Castle), which is still in operation. In the days when trade was carried out on foot or by caravan, Es-Salt was an important hub, lying on the path between Amman and Jerusalem.
Es-Salt has historically been a mixed city of Muslims and Christians, as attested to by the presence of numerous mosques and churches distributed among the tightly packed line of houses bordering the winding streets. Of all the churches, Al-Khader, or St. George Orthodox Church, is the most famous. It incorporates a small cave and is covered in ornate paintings of the disciples and of St. George slaying a dragon. Another highlight is the Al-Hammam Road, which runs through a bustling marketplace frequented by locals and whose doors are reminiscent of some of the famous markets in Syria. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better place to visit for an authentic Jordanian experience.
Comfortably perched atop of mountains, As-Salt maintains an authentic society based on affection, brotherhood, and love. The mountainside city also has significant historical relevance, most notably, as the regional capital of the Ottoman Empire.
As-salt archeological museum
The As-Salt Archaeological Museum is located in the new As-Salt commercial centre. The museum, with its two exhibition halls, was opened in 1986.
The main exhibition hall contains a collection of pottery from Tuleilat Ghassul, dated to the Chalcolithic (4500-3300 BC). The museum also showcases items from the Early Bronze Age (3300-2200 BC), the Middle and Late Bronze Age periods (2200-1200 BC) the Iron Age (1200-539 BC), the Byzantine period (AD 324-636) , and the Ayyubid/Mameluk period (AD 1174-1516).
As-salt folklore museum – abu jaber house
The museum was established for the conservation and display of the popular heritage of al-Balqa’ Governorate. It is comprised of two sections representing Bedouin and village life. For a fascinating look into the unique traditions and culture of As-Salt this museum is a must see!
prophet yusha’s shrine – prophet joshua’s shrine
Within a mosque to the west of As-Salt, on a hill carrying his name lies the shrine of Prophet Yusha (Joshua). He was the apprentice of Prophet Moses and later his successor. Prophet Joshua led the army of the tribes of Bani Isra’il in conquest over the land of Palestine.
Khirbet ayyoub – prophet job’s tomb
Southwest of As-Salt in an area known as Khirbet Ayyoub foundations of an ancient building mark the final resting place of Prophet Ayyoub (Job), who is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an four times. His legendary patience and faith gave him strength to endure tremendous hardships. Ultimately, Prophet Job was rewarded with blessings, as stated in the Holy Qur'an (Sura 21, verses 83-84):
“And (remember) Ayyoub, when He cried to his Lord,’Truly distress has seized me, but Thou art the Most Merciful of those that are merciful.’ So We listened to him: We removed the distress that was on him, and We restored his people to him, and doubled their number, as a Grace from Ourselves, and a thing for commemoration, for all who serve Us.”.
The religious harmony trail
Reflected in the old mosques and churches residing together in peace, the city of Salt is a living example of interreligious harmony and coherence within a single neighborhood. The architecture and ancient houses reflect in the religious writings and symbols common to Muslim and Christian families.
The historical buildings of As-Salt reflect the harmonious spirit of the city. With a unique architectural style seen nowhere else, the old houses of As-Salt have been nominated for UNESCO’s prestigious World Heritage status.
As-salt great mosque
This mosque, built during the late Abbasid Era, is oldest mosque in the city and acted as a center for religious scholars from all around the world.
The oldest and most active street in As-Salt city, named after a Turkish bath, the narrow pedestrianized street rolls around the contours of the hillside between 150 year old traditional ottoman stone architecture.
The complex was built on the ruins of Roman baths and was used for diverse purposes including medical, educational and religious use.
Al-khader orthodox church – st. george church
The holy shrine was built in the 17th century in a cave where it is believed that a villager received a message from God to build a church The church is visited by Muslims and Christians alike to ask for blessings and to pray.
This mosque, located at the end of Hammam street, was built in the first quarter of the 20th century by famed mason Haj Suleiman Abu Al-Hasan.