This ancient city was once the capital of Jordan or Balqa region. A 20-minutes drive north-west from Amman (about 30 km) transports you back in time to a town of picturesque streets and dazzling houses from the late Ottoman period, with their characteristic long-arched windows.
It's the ideal place for admiring the architecture, stopping off at the small archaeological museum, and finishing at Salt Zaman, a lovely restored old building in the heart of the town, charmingly furnished with antiques and handicrafts. Salt also houses a Handicrafts School where you can admire traditional skills of ceramics, weaving, silk screen printing, and dyeing.
Salt is the most historic city in Jordan. For long periods in history it was the most important settlement between the Jordan River and the desert to the east. It's golden age was at the end of 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, and it is the legacy of this period that makes Salt unique in Jordan and beyond.
Salt has attracted settlers since the Iron Age at least. The area enjoys a moderate climate, a plentiful supply of water and fertile soil. It was also well-placed on the north to south trade routes and those running from east to west, linking the interior with Jerusalem, Nablus, Nazareth, and the Mediterranean coast. Its mixed Muslim-Christian population and its trading tradition helped create an atmosphere of tolerance and coexistence.
There are Roman tombs on the outskirts of the town, and during the Byzantine period it was known as Saltos Hieraticon. In the 13th century a fortress was built on the site of the citadel by the Mamluk Sultan Al-Malek Al-Mu'azham, who was based in Cairo. Destroyed by the Mongols in 1260, the fortress was rebuilt a year later by a second Mamluk ruler from Egypt. Six centuries later, in 1840, the forces of yet another Egyptian potentate, Ibrahim Pasha, demolished it again. The Citadel is now the site of a large mosque, which towers over the modern town.
By the early 19th century, Salt was a well-off frontier town on the edge of Ottoman Empire and the desert. Useful to all, it was ruled by none. The town was also the center of profitable trading between the region and urban industries in Palestine.
In the middle of 19th century, Salt began to expand and new construction reflected in status. In 1870s merchants moved in from Palestine. Families are leading contemporary observes to speak of Salt as a mini Nablus.
Salt's fortunes declined after world War I. The first blow came when Emir Abdullah Ibn Al-Hussein chose Amman as the capital of the new Emirate of Trans Jordan.