Gadara (Umm Qais)

In the north-western corner of Jordan, 110 kilometres north of Amman in Jordan, are the ruins of the Decapolis city of Gadara, modern Umm Qais. Gadara is an ancient Hellenistic city founded by the Ptolemies as a frontier station on their border with the Seleucids to the north (gader meaning “boundary”). The site, situated on a broad promontory above the Jordan Valley, is striking because of its spectacular panorama, with views over three countries (Jordan, Syria and Israel), encompassing the Sea of Galilee and the southern end of the Golan Heights.

When Roman general Pompey conquered the region in 63 BC, he oversaw the rebuilding of Gadara and made it one of the semi-autonomous cities of the Roman Decapolis. Roman rule, particularly following Trajan’s annexation of the Kingdom of Nabatea in AD 106, brought stability and prosperity with large-scale public building works. Archaeological remains include Trajan’s basalt theatre, a church and a basilica, a nymphaeum, a temple and colonnaded streets (cardo and decumanus).

According to the Bible, Gadara is the spot where Jesus cast out the Devil from two madmen into a herd of pigs.

Coordinates: 32°39’15.0″N 35°41’15.0″E


The Western Terrace consists of a columned courtyard, an octagonal central building and a Three-Nave Basilica.
The western terrace and dates back to between the middle of the 7th and the middle of the 8th century AD.
The Western Terrace.
The Western Theatre dates to the late 2nd / early 3rd century AD. Built of basalt, it could seat about 3000 spectators.
View of the Nymphaeum with the Golan Heights and the Sea of Galilee in the background.
The Nymphaeum, probably built in the 2nd half of the 2nd century AD, stands on the northern end of the Decumanus Maximus.
The 15-m-wide monumental public fountain was originally two-storey and decorated with sculptures.
View of the Nymphaeum and the Decumanus Maximus.
View over the Golan Heights with the Sea of Galilee in the background.
The Decumanus Maximus is the main east-west axis colonnaded street of Gadara and runs it runs through the entire northern quarters of the ancient town.
Around the mid-1st century AD, the first road section was paved with basalt slabs.
An exedra building along the Decumanus Maximus

The Decumanus Maximus.
The Decumanus Maximus.

The Tiberias Gate is an isolated arch (5.20 m wide) that spanned the Decumanus Maximus and marked a former city boundary.
The Tiberias Gate.
A Roman hypogeum (underground tomb with vaults from pre-Christian times).
View of the door to the hypogeum.
The colonnaded courtyard of the macellum (market hall).
The colonnaded courtyard of the macellum (market hall).
The colonnaded courtyard of the macellum (market hall).
The colonnaded courtyard of the macellum (market hall).

The Decumanus Maximus.


One thought on “Gadara (Umm Qais)

  1. Pingback: Early AD 121 – Plotina writes to Hadrian on behalf of the Epicurean school in Athens (#Hadrian1900) FOLLOWING HADRIAN

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