Madaba, a few km south of
Amman, is a bustling town. The most famous feature of Madaba - and the reason we
visited - is the ornate Orthodox Christian church, St George's, which
is built on the site of a
much larger Byzantine church. In the floor is
a mosaic map of the middle east dating to about the 6th century. The visible
part of the map is about 6m by 2m, though the original covered some 16m
by 6m. The mosaic used over two million tiny coloured stones.
The map takes a little getting
used to as the top is East, not North as we are used to nowadays, but
is in spectacular detail. On the map can be clearly seen the Dead Sea
and Jerusalem which even shows a street plan. It is this that makes the
Madaba map the best of its kind.
The church at Madaba can get rather
crowded and you may have to wait your turn to view the map.
Madaba street scene
Entrance to St George's -"'the Church of the
John baptises Christ in the River Jordan
The ornate church interior, but note that everyone
is looking downwards at the mosaic!
Part of the mosaic map. The River Jordan and the
Dead Sea are in the centre, with Jerusalem bottom right