Jerash, Ajlun Castle & Mt. Nebo

Trip Start Dec 31, 2008
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Trip End Jan 20, 2009


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Flag of Jordan  ,
Sunday, January 4, 2009

    The next day we visited Jerash, "the Pompeii of the Middle East", which is one of the most important and best preserved Roman cities.  Jerash was part of the Decapolis, the 10 largest cities of the Eastern Roman Empire.  There we saw Hadrian's Arch, the Nymphaeum, temples dedicated to Zeus and Artemis and several theaters and churches laid out along colonnaded streets.  Additionally we were treated to "pipers" playing for us in the amphitheater and the beautiful Oval Plaza with perhaps hundreds of columns still left standing.  Along with Ephesus in Turkey, this is probably the most impressive Roman archaeological sites we've encountered.

    From there we headed to  Mt. Nebo, the site where Moses was given a view of the promised land and the site where he is buried.  Here is located the Church of Moses which was expanded in the sixth century into one of the largest complexes of monasteries in the Middle East.  The site gave us spectacular views overlooking the Jordan Valley.   Besides some wonderfully preserved and covered mosaics, we saw the Abu Dabo which is a huge round stone which was once used as a monastery door....but it is also similar to the stones rolled to cover cave burial sites.

    We also visited Madaba where we visited St. George's Church which houses a mosaic floor of a  map of the Holy Land. And lastly we visited Ajlun Castle (Qalat er-Rabad) - a Saracen castle built in the twelfth century, by a nephew of Saladin,  to protect the land against the Christian crusaders.  It is a wonderfully preserved castle with galleries, towers, staircases, and many chambers forming a medieval maze.

    As we headed toward Petra,  we took a spectacular drive along the northern end of what is known as the Great Rift which travels from Africa, and Olduvai Gorge, through Jordan.  The lowest point in the Jordan extension of the rift is the Dead Sea which is also found at the lowest elevation on earth.
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