An ancient city
in what is now Jordan
, dating from about 1600 BCE and boasting some of the best-preserved Roman
remains in the world. It is about 50 km north of Amman
Known anciently as Gerasa (in Greek and Latin, from the Semitic name Garshu), it was a member of the Decapolis, the confederacy of ten cities in the valley of the River Jordan. It came to prominence as a Hellenistic city, possibly in the days of Alexander the Great, and acquired the sobriquet "Antioch on the Golden River". (It is now also called the "Pompeii of the East" because of its preservation.) The first historical mention is in Josephus, who said that Theodosius the tyrant of Philadelphia (Amman) had hidden a treasure there. The city passed out of Theodosius' rule shortly after.
The Greek city does not survive. Roman buildings still standing include two amphitheatres, the forum, temples of Zeus and of Artemis, walls and arches, and a main street of Corinthian columns. The city's prosperity was further enchanced when the emperor Trajan constructed a major highway through the area, called the Via Nova Traiana. History does not record whether they were opposed by scruffy Essene protestors chaining themselves to palm-trees.
It was also considerably added to by its later Byzantine and Umayyad rulers. Today it's a tourist attraction in Jordan second only to the incomparable Petra. An arts festival is now held there every July. It was largely abandoned in modern times, and today's inhabitants are mainly descendants of Circassians who moved there in 1878.