Our first stop is at Madaba or in ancient times Medeba, hometown of our guide Omar. It is known for its profusion of Mosaics from the Byzantine period, hence its nickname City of Mosaics. Dating back to the Middle Bronze Age, Madaba is mentioned in the Bible twice. It was ruled by the Roman and Byzantine empires and the Umayyad Caliphate. It had a Christian community that dates back to 451AD.
Our first stop was the visitor's center of Madaba.
From there we walked towards St. George Greek Orthodox Church. On our way, we passed through the main market area of Madaba which sells items for tourists and the local people.
Business District of Madaba
The first mosaics were uncovered by chance as new Christian settlers were building their dwellings using stones from old monuments. Their priests, guided the inhabitants of the importance of the mosaics and made sure they were properly cared for and preserved.
One of the most important and fascinating finds was the Map of Madaba mosaic, its remains now inside on the floor of St. George Greek Orthodox Church.
St. George Greek Orthodox Church exterior
The Church Interior. Where the people are standing is the location of the mosaic map.
Rediscovered in 1896 with the guiding force of Father Guiseppe Manfredi who is credited for his passion for the mosaics found in Madaba. The Madaba Map, made up of over two million pieces of tiles, shows the pilgrim route to Jerusalem during the 6 AD and depicts villages and towns in Palestine and the Nile Delta. the Dead Sea, Sea of Tiberias (Galilee) plus landmarks in the Holy City (Jerusalem) such as The Cardo and the Holy Sepulchre. Today, only a patchy 1/3 of the map survived.
A section of the map. On the lower right hand is the walled city of Jerusalem.
St. George Church also has a vast collection of Icons and other mosaics.
Mosaics at the St. George Church
An Icon depicting the crucifixion
A miraculous picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary can be found in a chapel below the church.
Many other mosaics were found in the other five Byzantine Churches there including the Church of the Virgin and Apostles. Archeological excavations still continue in Madaba and additional historical treasures are still being uncovered and more knowledge gleaned about the people that populated Madaba in the past. Currently, many in Madaba have studied mosaic art and it has become a primary business in the area.
|Mosaic crafter working on a mosaic that will take at least 6 months to complete|
|One of the mosaic products for sale|
Mount NeboThe 3,300 ft. high mountain about 6 miles outside of Madaba is a sacred and important Christian pilgrim site because this is from where Moses saw the Promised Land before he died.
Then Moses climbed Mount Nebo from the plains of Moab to the top of Pisgah, across from Jericho. There the Lord showed him the whole land.... Then the Lord said to him, "This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, 'I will give it to your descendents.' I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it."
And Moses the servant of the Lord died there in Moab, as the Lord had said. He buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is. --Deuteronomy 34:1-6
When the Franciscans led excavations here they found remains of an early church with Byzantine mosaics, a hint that this site has been a place of veneration in the past. Today, a church stands as a memorial to Moses and to protect the remains of the old Byzantine church and the precious mosaics under its roof. The site also houses a Franciscan monastery.
Sculpture to commemorate Pope John Paul II pilgrimage to Mount Nebo
Olive Tree planted by John Paul II on his visit to Mount Nebo
Memorial Church of Moses
Brazen Serpent Sculpture depicting Moses's staff and the bronze serpent and a cross
The distances of Pilgrim sites from Mount Nebo
At the Mount Nebo Archeological Museum
Mosaics found in the area
The Moses Memorial
During our descent from Mount Nebo, due to conditions in a particular area of the mountain, we encountered the zero gravity phenomena, where the van was able to float weightlessly, or more correctly, seemingly drive itself with the engines off. Very freaky. We then stopped for photo op at a large Bedouin encampment on the mountain side and got a close up look at the ever present Bedouin shepherds and their flock..
We have now officially abdicated our thrones as King and Queen of the 'Has-No-Might' kingdom. Ma’a salama (Goodbye) Jordan, we truly enjoyed our visit.