ancient holy land
ancient Kings' highway in use for 3,000 year, is an ideal route for your
Journey south. Favorite stop is Madaba, City of Mosaics, to view its wonderfully
vivid map of the sixth century A.D. Holy Land. Nearby is the revered Mount
Nebo, where Moses climbed to survey the promised land. Visit the site of
Machaerus, strong hold of Herod Antipas, where Salome danced for the head
of John the Baptist.
Jordan is a unique and blessed land of the Old and New Testaments and early
years of Islam. The litany of ancient place names reads like biblical gazetteer
Edom, Moab, Ammon, Gilead, Gad and Peraea.
The Madaba of the Bible is today the small town of Madaba, only 30 kilometers
south of Amman. Remains of the Roman road and civic architecture can still
be seen in the midst of the modern town, but it is the Byzantine and Umayade
mosaics for which Madaba is best known. At the Greek Orthodox Church of
St. George visitors may view the earliest surviving original map of the
Holy Land, which was made around A.D. 560. In addition, there are other
mosaic floors preserved throughout the town, as well as a fine local museum.
Less than 40 kilometers south of Madaba lies Mukawir, ancient Machaerus.
This was the fortress built by Herod the Great, which after his death passed
to Herod Antipas. Here is where Herod imprisoned John the Baptist, and
where the beautiful Salome danced for Herod, who presented her with the
head of John the Baptist to honor her wishes.
The remains of the fortress thick walls, which were largely destroyed by
the Romans, dominate Mukawir, which has a splendid view across the Dead
Sea to the hills around Jerusalem.
Ten kilometers west of Madaba is the hilly district of Mount Nebo, on the
western edge of the plateau with a spectacular view across the Jordan Valley
and the Dead Sea.
On a clear day, the spires of the churches of Jerusalem are visible, and
at night the light of the city.
Mount Nebo is believed to be the tomb of Moses. It is a lonely, windswept
hill. Protecting the ruins of a 4th and 6th Century church whose floor
is still covered with marvelous mosaics, is a building constructed by the
Franciscans who started excavating the site in 1933.
Um er Rasas is a walled settlement about 30 kilometers southeast of Madaba.
Its main feature is a Byzantine tower 15 meter high used by early Christian
monks seeking solitude. Archaeologists have also unearthed the Church of
St. Stephen whose remarkable mosaic floor of the Umayade epoch is decorated
with Jordanian, Palestinian and Egyptian city plans.