Madaba “The City of Mosaics” is best known for its collection of Byzantine and Umayyad artwork, including a Byzantine mosaic depicting a map of the Holy Land. Located in western Jordan, Madaba is 30 km southwest of Amman. It is most easily visited with a tour, often along with Mount Nebo, the site where the Old Testament says Moses saw the Promised Land. With thousands of years of mosaic history, Madaba is a great site to visit while exploring Jordan.
History of Madaba
During the early centuries of Christianity, Madaba was an important town as a stop along the King’s Highway, a trade route. It also was home to various churches.
It was during the 6th century that an unknown artist created what is now known today as the oldest known map of the Holy Land on the floor of a Byzantine cathedral. This map is made up of more than a million pieces of colored stones and may have taken more than half a year to create.
In 746 AD, most of Madaba was destroyed by an earthquake and abandoned. The town was uninhabited until the 1880s, when Christians began settling in the area from Karak. As they began removing debris from the church, they uncovered the map. They preserved the map as they built St. George’s Church on the site.
St. George’s Church is a major point of interest when visiting Madaba. The map originally covered an area greater than 15 meters by 5 meters, but only about one-third of the map is visible today. It covers the area from Lebanon to the Nile River in Egypt and is still extremely impressive.
Saturday, Monday-Thursday: 8:00-18:00
(Closes earlier in the winter)
Adult: 1 JD
There are other churches in Madaba where mosaics have been discovered and they can be seen within the Madaba’s Archaeological Park and Museum complex.