In the north-western corner of Jordan, 110 kilometres north of Amman, are the ruins of the Decapolis city of Gadara, modern Umm Qais. 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. 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”).
When the Roman general Pompey conquered the region in 63 BC, he personally 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 Nabatean kingdom in AD 106, brought stability and prosperity, with large-scale public building works. Archaeological remains include a black 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 mad men into a herd of pigs.