Madaba is a small town outside of Amman (about 30km) along the same road that takes you to Mount Nebo. The initial site of it can be a bit disconcerting, as the small town is packed with shops and stores that cater to the busloads of tourists that visit this part of the country. Nevertheless, it does feature a number of different historically important sites, generally linked to the Christian and Byzantine traditions present in this part of the Middle East. The Greek Orthodox Basilica in one such site, largely because of a mosaic containing 2 million pieces constructed in the 6th century. The mosaic is a map of Palestine and what is now Egypt, and it shows a surprising level of topographical detail, providing an important source of information about Jerusalem and the Middle East in the early period of Christianity. When I visited the Church, liturgy was being celebrated, and I was not allowed to take pictures inside the church. Nevertheless, the people here are used to tourists and are more than willing to provide an explanation and help to anyone who comes by on off hours.
In the 1930s, Jordan was about 30% Christian. Today, the country that is home to a number of important Christian sites, counts less than 10% of its population as Christians. Nevertheless, the fact that Christianity has been present in Jordan, and the Middle East, since its birth means that there is a plethora of sects that exist indigenously in the country. This church across from King Abdullah I Mosque in central Amman is home to the Patriarchate of Orthodox Copts. I was intrigued by it, as I was only aware of the Coptic Church being established in Egypt, not in other parts of the Middle East. Given that the building is obviously a new construction, I would imagine that it services, in part, the Egyptian diaspora in the city, in addition to any indigenous community.
Hidden within one of the multiple terraces that make up the gardens of Darat al-Funun (an art gallery) are the surprising ruins of a Byzantine-period church. It was built in the 6th century AD and is though to have been dedicated to Saint George, based on an inscription found by archaeologists in the early 20th century. The outline of the church is clearly discernible and several columns in its interior have been re-erected at their original spot. Clearly of earlier Roman masonry, these columns - some with their Corinthian capitals - belonged to an older pagan temple that had stood on the same site. The outline of a side chapel is also discernible and within it are fairly well preserved floor mosaics, albeit plain white with no depictions.
Famous for its Mosaic Map which was crafted in AD560. The mosaic represents the oldest map of Palestine in existence, and depicts all major biblical sites of the Middle East from Eqypt to Palestine.
The church itsself is lovely and is a welcome retreat from the summer heat and a place of solace.
Admission is only JD 1
Roughly 5% or 6% of Jordan's native population is Christian. While the majority of them are Greek Orthodox, smaller communities of many other sects are also represented. Although Christians are a minority, Jordan guarantees them full religious rights and equality with the majority Sunni Moslem population. A large portion of Jordan's Christians live in Amman, thus there are several prominent churches in the centre of the city, including those in the attached photographs. Like many other cities in the Levant, it is not unusual in Amman to see mosques and churches built side-by-side.
At Amman's Citadel, next to the Ummayd's Palace, you can see the rests of a byzantine church from the 6th Century. It is also part of the acropolis, and it's situated on the right side when you enter the Citadel. The most remarkable things are the columns with capitels.
The first monument that you can see when you leave your car at the entrance of the Citadel is the Byzantine Church. One of the nice remains of this small Basilica are the Corinthian columns, which is thought to date from the 6th or 7th century AD. Archeologists found also some mosaics but it is very difficult to see them.
Jordan is not exclusively an Islamic country. If the majority of the inhabitants are Muslims, there is also a Christian minority. Even if the mosques are everywhere it is not surprising to discover some churches from time to time.
For example the Abdali bus station is quite close from the huge Abdullah mosque. However this huge building is not part of the landscape, instead, this big church on top of a small hill is what will catch your eyes.
I ignore the name of this particular church; it is relatively new and much less impressive once you are at the bottom.
During the Byzantine period, Amman (then known as Philadelphia) was the seat of a Christian Bishop, and several churches were built. 6% of the people of Jordan are Christian.
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