The seaside town of Aqaba is   located on the Red Sea, within sight of Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Jordan may   have only 26 kilometers of coastline, but they are being put to good use, and   below the sparkling Red Sea waters are some of the most fantastic dive sites   in the world. This area has been of strategic interest since old times, and   evidence of these civilizations is still visible, although visitors may have   to tear themselves away from the five-star hotels and the beach in order to   do so. Aqaba is also popular as a base camp for travelers wanting to see Wadi   Rum and Petra.


Near the road to Aqaba's airport is   a Chalcolithic site, Tell Maquss. Dating back to 3500 BC, it was during this   period that copper was firsts melted. The site is full of brick furnaces and   slag heaps. Interestingly, the copper was brought from elsewhere, possibly   from King Solomon's mines at Ezion Geber, just north of modern Aqaba.


There is evidence here of trade   with Somalia, Saba (Yemen) and Abyssinia (Ethiopia). Nearby, the ruined   Edomite trading town of Tell al-Kheleifeh dates from the 1st century BC. The   great trade route from Damascus snaked down through Amman and Petra, stopping   at Aqaba before heading off to Palestine and Egypt.


Excavations have uncovered a town   showing Nabataean, Roman and Byzantine influences, as each of these   civilizations moved through the region between the 3rd century BC and the 4th   century AD. A 3rd century AD building has been found which may be one of the   oldest churches in the world.


Ayla became Aqaba under Mamluk rule   and the Mamluk fort was built in the 14 century by Qansah Ghouri, one of the   last sultans. The Ottomans did little to exploit Aqaba, and it diminished in   importance over 400 years. Taken by force by Lawrence and the Arab forces   during the Great Arab Revolt, it became a strategic port, allowing arms   shipments and other supplies to come into Jordan from Egypt. The Hashemite   coat of arms was added to the Mamluk fort after it was taken.


Today, Aqaba is a vibrant town that   invites visitors, to enjoy the sun, sand, and fun. With approximately 335   days of sunshine per year and an average water temperature of 23 degrees   Celsius, it is almost always a good day to be outdoors.


The Red Sea is one of the most diverse   ecosystems in the world, offering some of the most colorful sea life   anywhere. With over 500 species of coral, including the black archelia, which   was first discovered by His Majesty, the late King Hussein, and over 1200   species of fish. Aqaba's 30 dive sites offer opportunities for everyone, from   novices to experienced divers.


When visitors come up out of the   water, they have their choice of leading hotels to enjoy, many with swimming   pools and private beaches. There are opportunities for adventure on dry land   as well, such as wandering around the ruins of Ayla, which was visited by   Chinese, Moroccan, Syrian and Egyptian traders. Close to the Mamluk fort is a   museum, housed in the former home of Sharif Hussein bin Ali. Petra, is two   hours away and Wadi Rum is only one hour, making travel simple.


Sun, fun, and history await   visitors to Aqaba. Long a cross roads between Africa, Europe, and Asia, today   the beach still lures visitors and adventures still start here. Some of the   most beautiful sea life in the world swims beneath the waters of the Red Sea,   and Aqaba has facilities to help visitors explore this realm, whatever their   ability level. With the sun, the beach, the history and all the treats   offered at the fine hotels, visitors might never want to leave!