Jabal Al Qal’a (Citadel Hill) has been a focus for human settlement since the Paleolithic Age, more than 18,000 years ago. Unfortunately, when the Romans moved in to occupy the area, they cleared away whatever they found, including the remains of the Ammonite city of Rabbath Ammon, and chucked it over the side of the hill: Bronze Age, Iron Age and Hellenistic pottery shards have been found mixed up with Roman remains on the slopes below. Of the remains surviving today, the most impressive by far is a huge Umayyad palace complex on the upper terrace of the Citadel, dating from the first half of the eighth century. On the middle terrace below and to the south lies the Roman Temple of Hercules, its massive columns dramatically silhouetted against the sky. East of the temple, Roman fortifications protect the grassy lower terrace, which has no visible antiquities.
The easiest way to reach the summit is by taxi; the ascent on foot (20min from Downtown) is extremely steep. About 150m along Shabsough Street as you head east, and just past the second turning on the left, a side-street has a wide flight of steps leading left up the hillside. Turn right at the top, and head up any way you can from here: there are crumbling steps most of the way, often leading through private backyards, though note you’ll still have to circle around to enter the site at the ticket office. If you’re driving, head east out of Downtown towards Zarqa, come off, pass under the highway, rejoin it heading west, then exit right. At the traffic lights bear left steeply up the hill, along King Ali bin Al Hussein Street. Near the top a hairpin left turn brings you to the car park.