As-Salt is the birthplace of an eclectic Architectural School during the late 19th century, when it saw an influx of traders of Nablus.
Architecturally elegant buildings were constructed, built in mix of Ottoman tradition and the Nablusi style with honey-coloured local stone. Abdel-Rahman 'Aqruq was its most notable architect.
Map of As-SaltLoad map
Visit May 19. On my short trip to the northern part of Jordan I visited some great TWHS, like Jerash or Umm al-Jimal. And I visited As-Salt.
I parked my car near the town hall and went to the Archeological Museum. There I got a poorly copied map of the most important buildings related to the WHS. I spent my time hunting down these buildings.
As-Salt is certainly not a city that lets your jaw drop. What Unesco describes as “a blend of European Art Nouveau and Neo-Colonial styles combined with local traditions” were to me rather boring square buildings. The oldest part of the city is not unpleasant, but also not outstanding. Certainly it is not photogenic city. The cars, narrow streets, open cables and lack of real highlights make it hard to get some good shots. Maybe if you find a good guide that can explain the value of the city on site, you get a more satisfying visit. For me, this was absolutely no highlight in a country I otherwise quite like.
As-Salt is very close to Amman. You can easily squeeze it in on your way to the Baptism WHS.
Nowadays As-Salt is nothing more but a satellite city of Amman agglomeration. But until the First World War it was a serious rival of current Jordanian capital. It faced substantial growth particularly in the end of XIXth century, when many wealthy families from the land now called West Bank moved to As-Salt. During this time a Palestinian architect Abdel-Rahman Aqruq formed a new style calle „Arab eclecticism”. As the name suggests, the style was a mix: arabic tradition and european styles (classicism and (neo)gothic are clearly visible, so do secession elements). That style spread over the whole Middle East, which was these days united under Ottoman Empire. Given the importance of this movement, As-Salt will attempt inscription on World Heritage List in 2017.
I visited As-Salt driving from UNESCO site of Bethany beyond the Jordan to Amman. I had very limited time there and the weather was awful so the circumstances were not pleasant. Moreover, it was Friday and the Historical Old Salt Museum was closed. The museum is located in Abu Jaber House, which is probably the most famous expression of the new architectural style. Fortunately, tourist information was open and I was provided with maps proposing several different city walks, such es 'educational' or 'harmony' trail. Although they are interesting, none of them is exactly related to the potential iscription as a WHS. However, the most important buildings in the old town are supported with a plaque describing interesting facts and showing the distance to the next interesting building. Most of them are located on or near Hamman street. I imagine that if As-Salt's nomination is successful, some of these plaques will just get UNESCO sign.
Although As-Salt is quite nice and is doing its best to attract tourists, the (potential) outstanding universal value of the place is not easy to understand – I even had a problem to choose one interesting photo to illustrate my review. Even after inscription it would rather not become one the top tourist attractions in Jordan.
2020 Incomplete - not examined
As: As-Salt: The Place of Tolerance and Urban Hospitality
2017 Advisory Body overruled
ICOMOS suggested Not Inscribe. Overturned by amendment of Turkey to Deferral.
Successor to former TWHS Old City of Salt (2004)
Bureau - require 1990 action plan to be adopted
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