The Town and how to get there
Two weeks ago we made our way to Al-Salt, a city located about 40 minutes West of Amman. Built on three hills, it has long history dating back to before 1300 but was then destroyed by the Mongols, became a regional hub during the Ottoman empire and then was destroyed once more by the Egyptians in 1830. In the 19th century it became the capital of Transjordan under Emir Abdallah I, before he choose to make the small town of Amman, the capital after a dispute.
We didn’t take the main road, but instead took a more scenic drive through the Fuheis Canyon, which was really nice. Once in Salt, we started our journey next to the As-Salt Museum, which is also one of the touristic attractions in the city. Located in an old house, the building is a museum itself, while it hosts some artifacts from different time periods dating back to more than 3000 years BC, as well as showcasing some nice marble tiles and mosaics in the upper rooms. It has a nice terrace/courtyard as well. The museum however is really small, so probably needs 30 to 40 minutes to visit. It also costs only 250 Fils as resident.
What to do in Salt
We then just walked around Hammam Street and the nearby streets, going up and down the hills between interesting alleys that reveal old houses decorated with beautiful old doors. However, you might start your journey at the Tourist information next to Abu Jaber Museum, which is located in an old historic house as well. The info point offers free maps and advice on some of the walking trails you can take. There is the Tourist Trail, the Harmony Trail and others. All in all, they all cover the small streets around the famous Hammam Street. It is an old Souq (market), where one store is next to each other. Most of the fronts have arched, wooden doors and are the highlights of the town. However, there a just a few stores that offer interesting products or antiques and again, most of the places are closed on Fridays.
If you look for an interesting place to have a coffee or tea, make sure to check out Iskandaria Cafe. It has a beautiful architecture and welcoming staff. Right next to the Abu Jaber Museum and Hammam Street you will find the Latin Church, closed on Fridays, as well. In my opinion, the ministry of Tourism and the Municipality could make the city more attractive by ensuring clean streets and offering more traditional, local or heritage products rather then the modern stuff made in China. There is however a big construction project ongoing, where I believe a nice open place will be created. Maybe this will add some additional attraction and reason for the city to be visited by more tourists.
While walking between the small alleys you can make up your way all up to the Turkish War Memorial, or to one of the other churches found on top. While one of them was closed as well, the St. Goerge’s Church was open. It was interesting as it seemed to be built into the mountains and was the first religious place I have ever seen that offers space for Christians and Muslims to pray, alike. Right next to the Church you will find the Jordan Heritage Cafe, which has wonderful blue doors and is not just a cafe but a space that offers room for art and studying as well.
After exploring the city, we decided to go to Al-Gherbal Restaurant. It is a beautiful place located on the main street of Salt, once again in one of the cities old, nice houses. It is situated on many levels, has several rooms and the food was really great, if only the service wasn’t sooo slow. It took them ages to prepare some Mezze and grilled dishes for 4 people and the place was far from full.
As an alternative you might want to go to Beit Aziz instead, as I heard good things about it. Another secret tip is, to enjoy Kunafeh cooked on charcoal by Abu Hazim on Road 16. Before returning to Amman, we instead visited the Sunset Cafe to enjoy some Shisha and Lemon w Nana and a beautiful view over the Jordan Valley. As a half day tour to Salt is enough in my opinion, you can combine it with a trip to Pella, Ajloun, Tal-Alrumman, or a Quad Ride with Badia 4X4. Of course you need to choose one of the options and cannot cramp it all in one day.