Umm Qais (ancient Gadara)
Umm Qais is located on a broad promontory with a magnificent view over the Yarmouk River, the Golan Heights, and the Sea of Galilee. In Biblical times the town was known as Gadara, one of the most brilliant ancient Greco-Roman cities of the Decapolis, and according to the Bible is the spot where Jesus performed the miracle of the 'Gaderene Swine' (St Matthew 8:28-34).
The city reached its peak of prosperity in the 2nd century AD. New colonnaded streets, temples, theatres and baths sprouted. Meleagros even compared Gadara with Athens, which testifies to the city's status as a creative centre of Hellenism in the ancient Near East.
Umm Qais's charm still lingers today. A large portion of the western Roman Theatre (below) has survived history's upheavals. There is also an impressive main colonnaded street or 'cardo', as well as the 'Terrace', which hosts a courtyard, church and basilica. Ruins of the Nymphaeum, a bath complex and a well-preserved Roman Mausoleum can still be seen and there there are somewhat indistinct remains of what was once a Hippodrome.