Pella is located in the Jordan valley some 78 miles north of Amman, and the site has been continuously occupied since Neolithic times. First mentioned in the 19th century BC in Egyptian inscriptions, its name was Hellenised to Pella, perhaps to honor Alexander the Great's birthplace. The Roman city, of which some spectacular ruins remain, supplanted the Hellenistic city. During this period Pella was one of the cities making up the Decapolis. The Decapolis were twelve (despite the name) cities in Palestine, Jordan and southern Syria which were centres of Greco-Roman culture. The city was the site of one of Christianity's earliest churches. According to Eusebius of Caesarea it was a refuge for Jerusalem Christians in the 1st century AD who were fleeing the Great Jewish Revolt. It is half an hour's drive from Irbid in northern Jordan.

The city proper was destroyed by earthquake in 749. A small village remains in the area. Only small portions of the ruins have been excavated.