From the decumanus maximus, opposite the roman nymphaeum, a wide set of monumental steps leads up to a 37 x 100m flat terrace cut into the western slope of the original settlement hill and built in the late 2nd Century CE as the city expanded and it’s wealth and importance flourished.
Only traces of the roman buildings originally built on the terrace remain although the archaeological evidence suggests this was the administrative and economic centre for Gadara with a large market basilica probably providing offices for city magistrates, courts and the trade.
The terrace is supported on the western side by the barrel vaulting of the shops on the cardo street below and allowed the level of the terrace to be raised above the rest of the western city, emphasising it’s prominence.
The placement of the economic and trade centre in such a high status location at the junction of the cardo and decumanus maximus, raised up to make it highly visible and surrounded by other important civic buildings such as the nymphaeum and theatre reflect the importance of Gadara’s position on the trade routes into roman Arabia province.
By the late fifth century CE the city had expanded further westward and the focus of this prominent position in the city shifted from the economic administration to the religious. The buildings of the roman terrace were converted to a byzantine ecclesiastic complex formed by a large colonnaded courtyard atrium at the top of the monumental steps from the decumanus maximus, a central octagonal church and a three aisled basilica church all of which are still visible on the terrace today.
The back wall inside the shops formed the foundation for the north south wall of the roman buildings on the terrace above and this wall was later re-used in the byzantine period when the terrace was converted to an ecclesiastical complex.
Following the collapse of many of the buildings of Gadara in the earthquake of 749CE, the terrace and cardo were buried and over time consolidated into a more natural slope on which buildings of the ottoman village were later added.
From 1995 archaeological excavation exposed the terrace, the cardo and the shops and lead to some reconstruction of the façade.