Sitting comfortably in the motorcoach, the trip from Jerash to the south of Amman along the 5,000 year old King's Highway was quite an enjoyable ride into, as Rod explained to us, a land recognized as the "Holy Land". Along the way, we passed through a strings of various ancient sites.
The first stop made was the city of Madaba, 30km south of Amman mostly known for its main attraction of a mosaic map in the "Greek Orthodox church of St. George". The church was built in 1884 over the remains of a Byzantine church.
The famous mosaic map, which dates back to around 560 AD, was made to cover the front section of the floor of the Byzantine church. Today, only part of the map has been preserved and clearly shows Jerusalem and the Holy Land. It is made up of two million pieces of local coloured stones and shows valleys, hills and towns as far as the Nile. Originally 94 square metres, now only about a quarter remains.
As we stepped out of the motorcoach, we all proceeded to follow Rod by foot on this bright sunny day along several side streets leading way up to the church. Along the way, we were entertained by colourful restaurants, several little cafes, men smoking their water pipes on the sidewalks sitting comfortably on patio chairs, merchants selling their merchandises consisting mainly of souvenirs and locals going about their day to day activities.
After a good fifteen minutes walk, we were at the entrance of the Greek Orthodox church of St. George in which we followed Rod inside to witness first hand the famous mosaic map. By then, several tourists were already present in the small church making circulating around a little bit more difficult. The church was decorated with several holy paintings on the walls, old chandeliers hanging from the painted ceiling, numerous lighted candles and on the floor, the famous mosaic map. A rope prevented us from walking on it.
Once the visit finished, being still early, we were given a good hour of free time in which Michel and I retreated our steps, stopping along the way at several shops for souvenirs before heading back to the motorcoach for our next destination.
Thankful for the mosaic map!