Madaba, Mt Nebo & Kerak Castle
Madaba, Mt Nebo & Kerak Castle, Jordan
Madaba is a largely Christian town, and is home to several churches: in one of these, the Greek Orthodox church of St George, is the principal reason for your visit. It is a 6th century mosaic map of the Holy Land, depicting Jerusalem and other holy sites. The level of detail is remarkable, with city walls, gate and pilgrims all picked out in bright-coloured tiles, making this one of the finest mosaics in Jordan.
Mt Nebo is the site from which Moses first saw the Holy Land at the end of the Exodus. It is also the presumed site of his death and burial. A Byzantine basilica church now stands on the spot which commands stunning views over the Jordan Valley. Excavations have revealed some amazing mosaics, and the church played host to a poignant visit by the Pope on his recent tour of the region.
After visiting these two churches, which form part of the 5,000-year old King's Highway linking Amman to the south of the country, you continue south. The final visit is to the Crusader Castle of Kerak. As you approach the castle of Kerak, it is immediately obvious why all the armies involved in the crusader conflicts wanted control of this bastion. Kerak represents the best aspects of both crusader and Islamic military architecture, as the Mamlukes refined the original structure built by the Christian knights. Inside stone-vaulted halls and chambers, both above and below ground, beg to be explored, and echo now to the quiet commentary of guides rather than the harsh cries of war that once resounded through Kerak. From Kerak you return to The Dead Sea.