Madaba Mosaics and Churches

The fertility of Madaba's plains have made it a strategic location for 3500 years. Fought over by many peoples during different times, it later became a Nabataean town. During the Byzantine era, the city became a bishopric. Madaba was known for the Mosaics till nowadays, Madaba is considered now one of the most important cities in the world for the crafts art. Not only for this Madaba is still famous, but for its historical importance too..

Madaba was coveted by many civilizations because of its strategic location and its rich plains. In 106 AD, Madaba was ruled by the Roman, who built a colonnaded street and the usual impressive public buildings of a provincial town. During local excavations, Coins were found which featured grandiose statements about the city. In 747 AD, an earthquake hit the town and it failed. After that the town lay abandoned for about 1100 years.

In the 1880s, local fighting in Karak drove 2000 Christians to settle in Madaba. As they began to dig foundations for their houses, they began to uncover mosaics. From then on, Madaba has been a heaven for archeologists and a nightmare for construction workers.

In or around 562 AD, many exquisite mosaic floors were erected in Madaba, including the Chapel of St. Theodore, now part of the Madaba Cathedral. In the Church of the Apostles, a mosaicist named Salamanios completed a masterwork. The Personification of the Sea, a medallion, portrays the Sea as a woman rising from the water, with various sea creatures swimming around her. Land animals and vegetation border the fabulous floor. The inscription reads, "0 Lord God who has made the heavens and the earth, give life to Anastasius, to Thomas, to Theodore and Salamanios the mosaicist." Unfortunately, due to the iconoclasm of the Christian church during the 7th and 8th centuries, many figures in various Madaba mosaics were defaced with blank tesserae.

Madaba ChruchMap

The oldest and most famous floor in the world, the Mosaic Map (Map of Al Quds), was discovered in 1884 in the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George. It was originally erected in 560 AD. The map portrays the region of Jerusalem in an accurate humor way. Archeologists have been able to positively identify most of the 150 named sites due to the accurate portrayals of natural features such as the River of Jordan or the Dead Sea, as well as the labels, which used color and font size to indicate the importance of the sites. The geographical accuracy gives sanction to the idea that the wildlife shown on the map, such as lions and gazelles, actually lived in the area. Amusing features, such as a horrified fish running away from the Dead Sea, not only indicate much about the region, but also show the humanity of the mosaicists Only one-third of the map has survived.

The Archeological Park is located on the basis of Virgin Mary Church, and its floor is part of the collection. A mosaic found at Herod's castle in Mukawir i~ said to be the oldest mosaic found in Jordan, dating from the 1st century. The charming Hall of Seasons was found under a Madaba house. Across the preserved Romar road, complete with wheel ruts, are the basis of the Church of the Prophet Elias, constructed in 608 AD.

Tourists have many opportunities and historical ruins to see when they visit Madaba. One of these, is the Burnt Palace which dates back to the 06 Century and it was a luxury palace destroyed about 748 AC by fire and earth tremors. Although the palace was burnt, the mosaic floor remains and it mostly depicts animals and hunts. The Madaba Museum contains jewelry and ethnic costumes, as well as more mosaics. The unique Madaba Mosaic School seeks to preserve the craft and to teach conservation techniques. Although it is open to the public, the classrooms are closed to facilitate learning. Most of its texts are in Italian.

Madaba is surrounded by many historical sites. Mt. Nebo is owned by the Franciscan fathers and has been part of the traditional Christian pilgrimage path for centuries. The traditional path includes Jerusalem, Mt. Nebo, a bath at Hammamat Ma'in, where Herod is said to have bathed & the Baptism site which is the pilgrims destination around the world..The new hotel and spa here makes this pilgrimage end in comfort and luxury. The striking ruins of Herod's castle at Mukawir, also known as Machaerus, give a view to the Dead Sea that is different from any other. The castle sits 700 meters above the Dead Sea on top of a promontory with steep valleys on three sides. Umm Ar-Rasas, with its jumble of ruined churches and houses, is overshadowed by the mystery surrounding its tower with no door at the bottom but several windows at the top. One theory, based on the discovery of a 6th century church near the foot of the tower, is that it was the home of a Stye lite, a monk who isolated himself into the tower to spend his life in prayer and contemplation.

Madaba is an unusual place. Once a Roman town, it is hard to find evidence of that now, but the Byzantine influence defines the tourism aspect of the area. The mosaics that were laid here long ago, and the ones being created now, set Madaba apart. 

Madaba now is one of the most historical sites to be visited by tourists, especially Christian tourists. Because of its mosaics Madaba is considered one of the Art city around the world.


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