Adventure seekers visiting Jordan will be in their element when they visit Aqaba. The southern part of Aqaba is situated on the coast of the Red Sea and offers a wide range of sports and activities of an aquatic nature including: scuba diving, windsurfing, waterskiing, jet skiing, snorkelling, and sailing.
Aqaba's long history dates back to pre-biblical times, when it was known as Ayla. According to the Bible's Old Testament, King Solomon built a naval base at Ezion Geber, just 3km from where the modern town of Aqaba stands today.
From 106 AD, the Romans, who ruled the region from their base in Syria, also used Ayla as their trading sea port, until it came under the control of the Byzantine Empire in the early 4th century. The Byzantines appointed Christian Arabs from south Arabia to rule the port city on their behalf.
The Middle Ages were turbulent years for Ayla. In the 12th century, the crusaders captured the city. They built a fort on Far'un Island, known then as Ile de Graye, 7km offshore. Ayla was then retaken by Saladin and the fort became known as Saladin's Castle. In a counter-attack, the notorious crusader, Reynald de Chatillon, took the island, but lost it again to Muslim forces the following year.
When the Mameluk Sultans of Egypt took control of the region, they renamed the city Aqaba and, in the 14th century, built the town's famous Mameluk fort. The Mameluks were followed by the Ottomans, who ruled Aqaba for 4 centuries.
Aqaba was taken from the Ottomans in 1917 by Arab forces together with T. E. Lawrence. At the end of World War I, the British secured Aqaba for Jordan.
The Jordan Experience
No visit to Aqaba is complete without the Jordan Experience especially if you are constrained in your time schedule and can’t visit all of Jordan’s majestic destinations in person. Located in a complex of white-arched pavilions around an artificial lagoon adjacent to the Royal Yacht Club, the Jordan Experience is a 3D Imax-like movie theatre.
Equipped with one big screen in the middle and two smaller screens on both sides, the theater takes you on a 25-minute flight to Jordan's natural and cultural treasures: From the lowest point on earth, the Dead Sea, through the Siq of Petra, to the canyons of Wadi Rum from where Lawrence of Arabia and Sheikh Sharif Hussein led the World War I attack on Aqaba, which was then a fortified Ottoman port.
For more information, please call: +962-3-201-2200
Greatly prized as Jordan's window to the sea, Aqaba brings a refreshing release from the rose-coloured desert to the north. Its sandy beaches and coral reefs are the most pristine on the Red Sea, and Jordanians hope to preserve them through careful planning. With several first-rate hotels, restaurants and shops, Aqaba caters to a tourist crowd that is tranquil and relaxed, seeking its pleasures more by day than by night.
Great efforts are being made to ensure the protection of the Red Sea marine life, particularly from the impact of tourism. Derelict ships and military vehicles have been sunk in some cases to create artificial reefs. These wrecks provide permanent places for corals to grow and offer marine life a safe refuge to set up residency, not to mention some exciting diving for non-aquatic visitors. The Aqaba Marine Science Station showcases the marine life of the Gulf of Aqaba and the many steps that are being taken to protect it.
Some of the world's earliest known churches have been recently discovered in Jordan. These include a 4th century church at Umm Qays, a possible 2nd or 3rd century AD "prayer hall" at Bethany Beyond the Jordan, and the remains of a mud brick building at Aqaba that may be the worlds oldest known purpose-built church. The Aqaba building dates from the late 3rd or early 4th century AD.