Madaba, known as “The City of Mosaics” is one of the most magnificent and historical places in all of Jordan. Situated a mere 30KM from the capital city of Amman, Madaba is one of the first cities you will encounter along the ancient 5,000 year old Kings’ Highway. This is one place not to be missed, when visiting Jordan!
Madaba, a city rich in history, is renowned for its many mosaics and beautiful sites. The best known and one of the most beautiful mosaics can be found in the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George. It is known as the Mosaic Map of Jerusalem and the Holy Land. This mosaic, in a church built in 1896 (atop the ruins of a much older Byzantine church from the 6th century), utilizes over two million pieces of brilliantly colored local stones. It depicts the Holy Land, and hills, valleys, and lands as far away as the Nile delta. Only a quarter of this piece of fantastic art has been preserved, but it is still quite a marvel to behold.
Other mosaics that call Madaba home can be found in the Church of the Virgin and The Apostles, and in the vast Archaeological Museum. These murals boast vivid profusions of flowers, of wildlife, of birds, and scenes straight from mythology. They feature terrifying beasts and humans. They even boast scenes of everyday life, such as the lives of everyday people hunting, fishing, and farming. There are, quite literally, hundreds of murals in Madaba’s churches, public spaces, and even in the homes of the locals! The University of Toronto has been excavating and exploring the regions of Madaba since 1986, and has found on the west acropolis an open field where the entire sequence of occupation can be found from modern day Madaba, all the way to the relics of the Early Bronze age. Of the most significant finds in this field are a 7.5 meter fortification wall built sometime in the 9th century, and a Byzantine house built near the base of the fortification wall.
Jordan has taken an aggressive stance on restoration of and preservation of its historical and beautiful mosaics. In accordance with that, the Archaeological Park and Museum encompasses what remains of several Byzantine churches, including the Church of the Virgin, and Hyppolytus Hall, which is part of a mansion dating to the 6th century. In keeping with the preservation aspect of the mosaics, Madaba is home to the only school of its kind in the region, The Madaba Institute for Mosaic Art and Restoration. This school teaches people how to make, repair, and restore mosaics. The school is run under the patronage of the Ministry of Tourism.
Madaba is an ancient city, along an ancient road, with many ancient treasures, artifacts and stories waiting to be unearthed. Tourists are quite warmly welcomed here, as are scholars and archaeologists. You will be welcomed warmly here too, when you visit this city of antiquities, treasures, and beautiful, beautiful mosaics. Madaba awaits!