Madaba, the "City of Mosaics," is most renowned for its Byzantine and Umayyad mosaics. Inhabited since Neolithic times, it was an ancient Moabite town, mentioned in the Bible, which following the conquest of Canaan by the Israelites, was allocated to Reuben when the land was divided amongst the twelve sons of Israel.


Whilst under Roman and Byzantine rule between the 2nd and 7th centuries CE the town grew due to its strategic position on the trade routes, which had previously been governed by the Nabateans as part of the Kingdom of Petra.


The first Xtian community is acknowledged by the Archbishop of Bosra, Constantine, in 451 CE.


Madaba came under the rule of the Arab Umayyad Caliphate in the 7th century as part of the southern Kingdom of Palestine.


In 1880, led by two Italian priests, the old city was resettled by ninety Arab Xtian families from Al Karak. Whilst they were building their new houses, the priests noticed that the Arabs were using stones taken from the ancient monuments, and on investigation more ancient mosaics were revealed.


The priests realised the importance of the finds and called a halt to the pillaging of stone, and more exploratory work was started, which revealed some of the most important mosaics ever found.


The most famous being the mosaic map of the Middle East which was discovered in 1896, and now preserved in situ, on the floor of the Greek Orthodox Basilica of Saint George.


This, the oldest known map of the Holy Lands, is constructed from over two million pieces of coloured stone, shows an area stretching from the Egyptian Nile delta, north to Syria, and eastwards to the desert. It has pictorial representations of towns and countryside during the Byzantine period, and clearly shows the layout of Jerusalem, aligned in Roman fashion around the colonnaded Cardo.














Jordan Tour