Side Trips from Amman: Places to Explore

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Madaba

"The City of Mosaics" is just 19 miles from Amman on the King's Highway. Madaba dates from the middle Bronze Age, about 2000 BC, though most of its famed art dates from the more recent Byzantine era. There are hundreds of fabulous mosaics dating from the 5th to 7th centuries scattered throughout the city, though the highlight is the mosaic map at the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George. The Archaeological Park and Museum, which has the remains of several Byzantine churches, including the Church of the Virgin and the Apostles, is also worth visiting.

It's mentioned in the bible as Medeba, a border town of the Moabites at the time of the Exodus (Num. 21:30; Joshua 13:9). The area was inhabited by different peoples, including the Hebrews and the Romans. The town reached its peak in the Byzantine era, which is when most of the famous mosaics date from. In 614 the town was destroyed by the Persians, and in 747 it was badly damaged by an earthquake and finally abandoned. It stayed that way until the early 19th century, when several thousand Christians moved here from Kerak. The new settlers dug the foundations of their homes and many Byzantine mosaics were discovered.

Madaba at a Glance

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