Modern Amman is an eclectic mix of the present and the past. It is one of the most modern and liberal cities in the Middle East, but you wouldn't know looking at the historic architecture. New skyscrapers are being built in Abdali in stark contrast to the low-rise sandstone apartment buildings that sprout from the hills.
There is a large contrast between East Amman and West Amman. West Amman is lively and modern. It is home to four and five star hotels, embassies, and the government. There are wide boulevards, parks, and shopping malls. East Amman is poorer, with crumbling apartment blocks. It is home to the city's large refugee population, and should be avoided by tourists.
Shmeisani and Abdali are the city's business centers. Abdoun has the city's most upscale housing. Jebel Amman and Wasit Al Balad are the oldest and liveliest parts of the city, with narrow, winding streets and lots of souqs, cafes, and boutiques.
Getting around the city can be a chore, because it is built over many hills (originally seven). Traffic is a huge problem. In the West Amman, the most distinctive landmarks are the eight circles. Each was originally the center of the hill it was built on. Thankfully, Amman has instituted street names in the last decade, making getting around slightly easier. Traffic is still a major problem though.
Amman is not perfect, but it is a beautiful city with an unbeatable atmosphere. The people are some of the friendliest in the world; constantly optimistic despite the country's tumultuous history.