Amman, the capital of Jordan, is a fascinating city of contrasts – a unique blend of old and new, ideally situated on a hilly area between the desert and the fertile Jordan Valley.In the commercial heart of the city, ultra-modern buildings, hotels, smart restaurants, art galleries and boutiques rub shoulders comfortably with traditional coffee shops and tiny artisans' workshops. Everywhere there is evidence of the city's much older past.Due to the city's modern-day prosperity and temperate climate, almost half of Jordan's population is concentrated in the Amman area. The Jordan Archaeological Museum is located in the Amman Citadel of Amman, Jordan. Built in 1951, it presents artifacts from archaeological sites in Jordan, dating from prehistoric times to the 15th century
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5. Get high on spirituality – Mount Nebo (Central Jordan) which is just 10 minutes away from Madaba, is perhaps Jordan’s most revered spot. Reputed as the burial place of Moses, the proximity of the Madaba mosaic map of the Holy Land, inlaid on a church floor to Mount Nebo had always been controversial. Most believe that it represented the vision that Moses had of the Holy Land from the place of his death.6. Follow Biblical clues – Mukawir (South Jordan) is also close by and it falls on the picturesque King’s Highway en route to Madaba. Mukawir was Herod, the Great’s hilltop stronghold and it was here that John, the Baptist was beheaded after Salome performed her seductive dance. Lot’s Cave, where Abraham’s nephew took refuge after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is also nearby. The Biblical Baptism Sites (recently made famous by the Pope’s visit) of Elijah’s Hill and Bethany-beyond-the-Jordan ( South Jordan,where Martha and Mary lived and Jesus was baptized by John, the Baptist) fall on the way to the Dead Sea and is worth exploring too. Elijah’s Hill/Jabal Mar Elias is also nearby and according to Biblical legends this was where Elijah after parting waters of the Jordan River, walked across it with his successor Prophet Elisha before ascending to heaven on a chariot and horses of fire.
Memorial Church of Moses
Our final visit was a quick visit to Mt.Nebo and Madaba. Mount Nebo is where prophet Moses was given a view of the promised land that God was giving to the Israelites. Moses was buried on this mountain by God Himself, and his final resting place is unknown. Also it is believed that Prophet Jeremiah hid the tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant in a cave here. Our journey ended at Madaba which is home to the famous 6th century Mosaic Map of Jerusalem and the Holy Land. The Madaba Map is part of a floor mosaic in the early Byzantine church of Saint George at Madaba, Jordan. The depiction of the mosaic map was the best way to end the pilgrimage as it was a recollection of sorts of all the places we had visited in the past week. We could relate and understand each of the significant pictures in the map. Finally the pilgrimage came to an end as we parted from the Queen Alia airport in Jordan for a six hour flight back to our homes.
Queen Alia International Airport
We landed at Amman airport around 11 am and had our driver (booked from our hotel in petra) waiting for us, all set to launch our Jordanian adventure.We had chosen to head towards Petra directly from the airport , via the "kings highway". That means we will be covering attractions in the central part of the coutry ( which I will talk about in a bit ) during the day and will be reaching Petra, just in time for "Petra by night".Our plan did work ( well almost) but it came at a pretty high price ( paid 110 JD for the taxi). The price was initially negotiated as 90 but the driver some how tricked us in paying extra ( let's skip that part I guess )
Mt Nebo Memorial
After a visit to the Jordan River, which is now a small brackish, brown pool since along with Israel and Syria, Jordan itself has diverted its waters for irrigation. Walking through the extremely dry and barren land, twisting and turning through a wild landscape populated only by Bedouins and with no signs of water whatsoever and very little vegetation, we moved on to the famous Mount Nebo (3300 feet above sea level). There are magnificent views of the Jordan Valley below, from the Dead Sea to the West Bank and beyond. This is the place where Moses saw the Promised Land after 40 years in the wilderness and died at the grand old age of 120. No one knows the exact location of his burial, but the Memorial Church of Moses, currently under reconstruction, claims to be the burial site. Pope John Paul II visited it during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2000 and planted an olive tree next to the Byzantine chapel as a symbol of peace. Deigned by the Italian artist Giovanni Fantoni, a serpentine cross sculpture has been erected on top of Mount Nebo. It symbolises the serpent held high by Moses and the cross on which Jesus was crucified.
Petra, the fabulous Jordan location, is an awe-inspiring and jaw-dropping experience by day. But to get a mysterious experience, take the Petra by Night tour. It is held on a handful of nights every week. A fascinating storyteller will bring to life historic tales as you walk along paths lit by candles.
St George's Greek Orthodox Church
It dates from the sixth century and besides the aesthetic purpose, it was probably intended to help pilgrims find their way from one holy site to another. St George's Church is, of course, a modern church, and the original Byzantine building was much larger. This mosaic must have taken years to make. With two million pieces of coloured stone, the map depicts hills and valleys, villages and towns in Palestine and the Nile Delta. The mosaic contains the earliest extant representation of Byzantine Jerusalem, labelled the "Holy City." The map provides important details about its 6th-century landmarks, where the central colonnaded street, and the church of the Holy Sepulchre are clearly visible. This map is one key element in developing scholarly knowledge about the physical layout of Jerusalem after its destruction and rebuilding in 70 AD.The mosaic artist conceived and carried out his masterwork with great topographical skill and biblical knowledge. The Madaba Mosaic map is deemed by some scholars to be the best topographic representation done before modern cartography. As a source of biblical topography the map is fully comparable with the well-known treatise on the biblical places written in Greek about 395 A.D. by the historian Eusebius of Caesarea and translated into Latin by Jerome about 490 A.D.