Pella is one of the most ancient sites in Jordan. Loved by archaeologists, this site is exceptionally rich in antiquities. However, for the typical visitor, there is not a lot to actually see as much that we know about Pella is buried beneith the surface.
Facts About Pella
Pella is located in the North-Western part of Jordan. It is 130 kilometers from Amman. It is located at the eastern edge of the Jordan Valley, a fertile region in Jordan, and lies very close to the Jordan River.
Pella has been almost continuously occupied from the Paleolithic (old Stone Age) through the Neolithic times (New Stone Age) when people first started to change their economy from food gathering to food-producing.
It was one of the first agricultural settlements built in the area.
The city was built first by the Greeks in the 4th century. It was named Pella after the birthplace of Alexander the Great in Macedonia. It was a very important city in the Greek period.
Pella features excavated ruins from the Greco-Roman period, including an Odeon (theater) built in a curve of the hillside
It also has artifacts of a Chalcolithic settlement from the 4th millennium BC, the remains of Bronze and Iron Ages walled cities, Byzantine churches and houses, an Early Islamic residential quarter, and a small medieval mosque.
After Pompey’s conquest in 63 BC its prosperity increased further as one of the cities of the Roman Decapolis, and the Roman city more or less eliminated the Hellenistic city. The Byzantine era saw a revitalization of Pella, as trade routes strengthened and local industries developed. Under them there was yet more building, in particular of churches, on the hillside overlooking the valley stands one such church, while another is near the river at the foot of the ancient tell.
After the 7th century Arab conquest, Pella continued as an Umayyad city for just over 100 years, and some superb pottery remains have been found here, made in the Jerash kilns. But like so many places in Jordan, the city was destroyed by the terrible earthquake of 747 AD.
Pella in Literature
The first literary reference to the city is from the 19th century BC when it is mentioned in Egyptian texts as Pihilum, or Pehel. It was a flourishing trade center, with links with Syria and Cyprus as well as Egypt.
According to the Bible Jesus visited Pella during his visit to the Decapolis (Mark 7:31) and Perea (Matthew 19:1; Mark 10:1), and recalling its secure location, cryptically referred to it in this prophecy. Eusebius’s Church History (3.5.3) recounts that the Jewish followers of Jesus heeded his warning and fled to Pella for safety before Jerusalem’s destruction.
At the base of the main mound (on your right as you pass through the entrance) are the limited remains of a Roman gate to the city. Atop the hill are the ruins of an Umayyad settlement, which consisted of shops, residences and storehouses. The small, square Mamluk mosque to the west dates from the 14th century. Carved into the southern side of the hill is the recently excavated Canaanite temple; constructed in around 1270 BC, it was dedicated to the Canaanite God Baal.
One of the better-preserved ruins is the Byzantine civic complex church (or middle church), which was built atop an earlier Roman civic complex in the 5th century.
Adjacent is the odeon (a small theater used for musical performances).
East of the civic complex church are the low-lying remains of a Roman nymphaeum (public fountain).
Up the hill to the southeast is the 5th-century east church.
There are also stones of a Byzantine fort and a Roman temple. Again, much of the city’s grandeur needs to be imagined.
How to Get to Pella from Amman
Bus to Pella
There is a bus that goes to Pella. It starts at the Amman Northern Terminal. However, it does not stop right at the site. On arrival, you can walk to the site or take a taxi. It is about 2 kilometers away. The cost of the bus is about JD2 one way.
Taxi to Pella
If you want to take a taxi to Pella it will cost you around 60 JOD round trip.
Tours to Pella
There are a few day tours to Pella from Amman. Choose from this Viator tour that also includes Jerash and Umm Qais on your daytrip.
Entrance fee to Pella
The entrance fee to the site is 2 JOD.
It is one of the included attractions in the Jordan Pass