Jordan’s Madaba Mosaics: Bespeaking the History of Christianity in the Middle East
Are you a fan of exuberant churches that speak volumes about the history of Christianity? If yes, you should visit Jordan to explore the Madaba Mosaics. Jordan’s City of Mosaics — Madaba is a great place to explore hundreds of floor mosaics uncovered in the last century.
Just 30 km from Amman, along the King’s Highway, the route to Madaba can be traced back to more than 5000 years despite the modernity that it represents. Although having a thriving Christian population, this country is predominantly Muslim and is best known for its religious harmony.
The best place to explore Jordan’s Madaba Mosaics is the St George Church. This church is adorned with beautiful mosaics made by putting together tiny bits of naturally coloured stones or glass. These patterns, usually built over the floor, were extremely popular before fresco painting replaced it in the early 15th century. The art form flourished in the Byzantine Empire, which was a part of the modern day Istanbul around 600 AD.
When you enter the St. George Church, you will witness some pretty impressive interiors. Despite being a simple structure of brown bricks, the Greek orthodox church has a huge mosaic map in front of the altar. As per archaeologists, the map was created around 560 AD using more than 2 million bits of stone. The colourful floor map, which is almost 16 m long and 6 m wide, is cordoned off on one side to prevent people from walking over it. The Madaba mosaic map is the oldest known geographic floor mosaic in art history that is used to verify famous biblical sites.
You will also see that every church pillar has vibrant paintings showing Mother Mary with baby Jesus. Most pictures at the church have Arabic captions to them. The most popular one among Jordan’s Madaba Mosaics is the ‘Tree of Life’ that reflects the Garden of Eden whose fruit was known to promise eternal life.
Outside the church, you will find many small shops selling mosaics to tourists. You will find souvenirs in the form of fridge magnets, decorative wall hangings, fridge magnets and even coasters. If you are a Michael Jackson fan, you will be glad to find modern motifs on the walls as well.
If you visit the church on Friday and Sunday morning at 7 am for Mass, you will not be able to see the map. To catch a glimpse of the Madaba Mosaics plan your trip accordingly. Even when you buy tickets, you won’t be bored as the office has amazing displays that show the history of the mosaics and the church. Spending a little time here will help you spot things inside the church.
Since Jordan heavily depends on tourism, the coronavirus pandemic has strongly affected the country’s tourist numbers. For improving the future tourism situation, Jordanian Prince Ghazi is planning to create a new religious ritual that would include crossing the River Jordan like Jesus.