Just across the road from my hotel is this church with its famed mosaic map of the Holy Lands - unfortunately it was damaged during various renovations to the churches that have stood on this site since its origins.
I was rather excited to see along with the representations of Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Jericho with the River Jordan there was also Kerak castle up on its hill here!
Down stairs there were some religious paintings, 'icons', allegedly from as far back as the 6th century but I didnt really believe that - nor impressed by stuff that portrays Mary as the Mother of God or the Queen of heaven - higher than Jesus Christ who was actually here on earth to also save his mother Mary - and biblically 'In the beginning was God...' but anyway there was an interesting picture of St George on his horse apparently from the 13th century and a very old looking embroidery one of the rare objects protected by being enclosed in a glass frame
According to the Holy Bible, Mount Nebo was the place where Moses saw the Holy Land and it was also the place where he died. For these reasons it is the most important Christian monument of all Jordan.
Mount Nebo's highest crest reaches an altitude of 800 meters above the surrounding Belqa plateau. The other peaks are slightly lower, all of them rising from 700 meters. Of these, the two most important, historically speaking are the peaks of Siyagha (710m.- where there is the Moses Memorial Church) on the western side and the peak of el Mukhayyat (790m.) on the South-East. All the year round several streams flow down the sides of the mountain: Ayoun Mousa and Ain Jemmaleh on the north, Ain Judeideh, Kanisah and Ain Hery on the south.
This church is a newer church built on the original site where this amazing floor map mosaic of the surrounding significant sights are around the Holy Land are - is a Greek Orthodox church now as the sign says on the front of the church.
Inside of course is the mosaic that brings most people or tourists to this church but its also nicely decorated in new mosaics of Christ and various apostles, there is an old embroidery protected in a glass frame on the wall and various old catholic religious paintings down on the floor below.
My hotel, the Madaba Inn, was just over the road from this church so I didnt have far to go to visit plus I had a few nice shots from my window overlooking the church area which included the St Georges Kindergarten and so on.
At the mosaic museum at the Church of the Virgin is an information board informing you that this mosaic is from the baths of Herod the Great's palace at Mukawir - about half an hours drive away - on a hilltop overlooking the Dead Sea - apparently where John the Baptist was beheaded at the request of Salome and her mother.
The information board tells you that this piece of mosaic is from the 1st BC and is the most ancient in Jordan. and also gives you an interesting floor plan of the palace site.
Thats an exciting bit of the 'oldest' of something to add to our fanatic about all things ancient VT belt!
After the funeral chapel and the Diaconicon Baptistery were dismantled, the floor was adjusted to level with the rest of the basilica, making a single large chapel divided by stairs and railing into two separate rooms. The eastern room was decorated with mosaic depicting animals and flowers inserted in a geometrical frame; the western room was graced with geometrical motifs.
The elongated chapel might have been used as the Diaconicon of the basilica and as a chapter room for the monks.
Perhaps during the same period in which the Diaconicon was altered and embellished, the ancient funeral chapel was destroyed, and a new room, replete with mosaics, was built instead. This was replaced by a new baptistery with its own mosaics in 597-598 AD. Over the threshold at the entrance of the baptistery, was a welcoming inscription, "Peace to All", placed to greet visitors entering the chapel.
The Greek Orthodos Church of St.George was built during 16th century on a Byzantine Church.
On the floor of the ancient church there was the mosaic map. It was discovered in 1884 and over it there are more than 150 Greek names of town which are call in the Holy Bible: you can see Egypt, Jerusalem and much more.
The mosaic of the map of the Holy Land was 17.5 metres long and 10 m wide, and it had got more than 2 milions pieces. Now the mosaic is 15.7 metres long and 5.6 metres wide and it lose more important parts.
On the map there are more than 150 town with their name and their werw show very detailly more important was the town. All the name of the town and place are in Greek and they were wrote with different colours and symbols to remember the characters of the place: the most important Holy Place are in red.
When you enter to Moses Memorial Church you can see wonderful mosaics. On your right the three apsed cella (cella trichola) was preceded by a courtyard. In August 531 AD a Diaconicon Baptistery was built to the north of the courtyard against one of the funeral chapels. It was reached by a short flight of stairs, as it was one meter lower than the floor of the courtyard.
This rectangular room contained the baptismal stone fountain fashioned in the form of a cross and coated with a thick layer of time plaster. Two Greek inscriptions show the date of the mosaic floor (August 531), the name of the mosaicists, Soel, Kaium, and Elias, and the name of the Bishop of Madaba, Elias.
In its decorative scheme, the mosaic floor is divided into three distinct panels in floor registers depicting pastoral and hunting scenes.
These well preserved mosaics are from the 6th century - ie the year 567 - discovered in 1902.
The ticket you buy at the museum at the Church of the Virgin apparentely covers this as well - didnt get told that at the time though. Handy to know there is a Jordan Post box at the entrance door - all my postcards to be posted had been left back at the car though!
The Roman Catholic's Pope John Paul visited Jordan in 2000 - when I was at Mt Nebo I saw large photo of him visiting the site in 2000 - outside a church here which I had gone round to to see if it was the church of Mary - but it wasnt - there was this sign outside its locked gate advising of the Pope John Paul's visit here - so that was interesting.
There was also a shop across the road full of statues of Mary - also interesting to see in a muslim country. Regardless of my opinion of Mary worship it is nice to see the tolerance of the religions living side by side in this country.
After a short walk where you can see the monument to John Paul II to his first pilgrimage on the Holy Land during the Jubillee, you reach the nice Moses Memorial Church.
We don't know a lot of the original church. We can know much more because in the summer of 1933, excavations at Syagha, one of the highest peaks at Nebo, began under the direction of the Jerusalemite Franciscan Fathers. Three long archaeological campaigns had previously resulted in the discovery of the Basilica and of a large monastery, which had continued to expand through the 6th century. Mount Nebo's first church was constructed in 393 d.C. to commemorate the place of Moses' death. It had three apses and was preceded by a vestibule paved with plain white mosaic; two funeral chapels stood to the north and south of the lateral apses.
Six tombs have been found hollowed from the natural rock beneath the mosaic-covered floor of the church. In the present presbytery you can see remnants of mosaic floors from different periods. The earliest of these is a panel with a braided cross presently placed on the east end of the south wall.
Here at the Church of the Virgin there is an excellent collection of mosaics from the surrounding area - information boards are provided in english so it really is a great little place to visit - and only about 2 dinar to enter. There are toilets here too.
Outside the Moses Memorial Church you can notice the big nice cross made by the Italian artist, Giovanni Fantoni. He designed the metal decorations inside the sanctuary as well as the Serpentine Cross (The Brazen Serpent Monument) on the exterior. These are symbolic of the bronze serpent taken by Moses (pbuh) into the desert, and the cross upon which Jesus (pbuh) was crucified.
Here also to be seen at the Archelogy Museum on the site of the Church of Mary are Mosaics from the church at Massuh 10 km north of Madaba, dated to the beginning of the 6th century.
As with all the mosaics in the museum information is given in english and arabic.
In the middle of the mosaic there is the town of Jerusalem as heart of Christianity.
You can recognize all the monuments and building (a total of 36). You can see the walls, the gateway doors, the Cardo Maximus which start in the middle of a square where there is a colomn and the St Sepulchre's Church. You can also see the Basilica of Jerusalem which was built in 543, so the mosaic was made later.