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Al-Salt

     

Filled with Ottoman-era houses,   AlSalt is known as one of the most historic towns in Jordan. While the area   has been settled since the Iron Age, it enjoyed its greatest period of prosperity   during the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. Many of the   families that influenced the creation of the modern state of Jordan come from   AlSalt. As a consequence of not becoming the capital of the Emirate of   Transjordan, AlSalt has been able to maintain its unique architectural legacy   and small town charm.

 

The name AlSalt comes from either   the Latin word "saltus" meaning forest, or from the word   "sultana", as the area has been known for the quality of its grapes   for centuries. There are Roman tombs on the outskirts of the city, and it was   known as Saltus Hieraticon during Byzantine times. In 1220 AD, the stronghold   of the Mamluk Sultan Al-Malik Al-Mu'az was built on the crest of one of the   steep hills in the town. Destroyed during the Mongol invasion of 1260, it was   rebuilt by the Mamluks the following year.

 

Despite all of this upheaval,   AlSalt has always been the division between the desert and the more   agricultural valley region. Mentions of AlSalt, and its commercial   importance, show up in writings from the Arab traveler Abu Al-Fida in the   13th century. 400 years later, the Swiss explorer Burckhardt noted that there   were 400 Muslim and 80 Christian families living peacefully together in AlSalt.   In 1806, AlSalt was said to be exempt from all taxes, and was an enormous   trade center, even featuring cotton from Manchester, England, in its shops.

 

In the mid 19th century, AlSalt   became an important administrative capital for the Ottomans and people   migrated from Jerusalem, Nablus, Nazareth to live and prosper there. They   celebrated their fortunes by building exquisite homes, some with domed and   frescoed ceilings.

 

For the visitor, AlSalt is an   opportunity to see the lovely facades of an Arab town during the time of the   Ottoman Empire. Walking around AlSalt is a treat. From the Cultural Center to   the Latin Monastery, from the houses to the shops, it is like taking a trip   in a time machine. AlSalt's grace provides the visitor an enjoyable   afternoon.