Umm Qais, or as it was known in the ancient time ‘Gadara’, is a cultural centre and home to several philosophers and classical poets including founder of the rhetorical school, Theodourus; and the esteemed Hellenistic Greek poet, Meleager. It was referred to as “a new Athens” by one such poet, with its colonnaded streets, theatres, and terraces. It is perched upon a splendid hilltop overlooking the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan Valley.
About 10km north of Umm Qais is Al-Himma—therapeutic hot springs that were frequented by the ancient Romans. There are two bathing facilities here: a unisex public bath where all can visit at any time; and a privately run complex with separate timetables for men and women.