Madaba-Mt Nebo-Dead Sea-Kerack-Petra
Trip Start May 06, 2006
47Trip End Ongoing
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Day 2 started off with a trip to Madaba to see a Saint George's Church. It was also amazing. It has the famous Map of the Holy Places which is on the floor of the church. All Greek (Byzantine) to me... We learnt that there are many mosaics in Jordan - see other entries.
Read this site for lots more detail.
Mohamad had a hard time parking as they continually change the street directions. One day a sreet will be One Way in and the next day One Way out. Just adds to the charm!!
Church was really worth a look
Bought some Dead Sea soaps and mud packs and hand lotions and stuff at one of the stores. Mohamad knows many people.
We also stopped at a souvenir place outside Madaba - Madaba Arts and Handicraft Centre Co. We bought a wrought iron mosaic table and had it shipped back to Australia (we hope). It had 6 trees of life plus many animals under each tree. Each piece of rock that made up the mosaic was about 6-8mm long by 2-3mm wide. The table is about 65 cms wide. I estimate over 20,000 pieces of different types of stone were used to create it. (Sorry I forgot to take a photo). This centre is well worth a visit as it has many other hand-crafted artwork - I don't call this quality of work "souvenirs".
Mt Nebo is another amazing place. This is where Moses had one of his churches. From here he saw the promised land - Jerusalem. We could see Palestine, Israel, Dead Sea etc.
I was in almost starting to believe the stories now.
Again the effort taken to do the floor Mosaics was amazing.
Some text from a web site:
Prophet Moses memorial rests above the great eastern plateau that stretches out to the West Bank and beyond
Christians believe that Prophet Moses stood there, and was forbidden by God to enter the Promised Land. On Mount Nebo, or Pisgah as it appears in the Bible, Prophet Moses was said to have lived out his days and as the legend goes, was finally interred.
At Syagha, above the plains, a chapel was built in honour of Prophet Moses and pilgrims visit it. Franciscans acquired the areas of Nebo, Syagha and el-Mukhayyat in 1934. An excellent road is built to connect the site to Madaba.
Drove on to the Dead Sea - the lowest point on earth - 400 metres below sea level
I think I might come back here for a night or two.
Sue and I had a facial mud pack when we got back to Doha. My skin is so soft and beautiful now.
We just made Karak(either spelling is okay) castle after it closed. Mohamad had the horn on continuously and lights flashing as we went through Madaba and other little villages at least 100 kph. Luckily the castle caretaker was still there. He opened the gate for us as Mohamad said I was an important diplomat from Australia - he was right.
This castle was built by the Crusaders and raided by Saladin. Images of Lawrence of Arabia came to my mind - more on that later
The magnificent Crusader fortress of Kerak - Crak des Moabites, or Le Pierre du Desert to Crusaders - soars above its valleys and hills like a great ship riding waves of rock. But Kerak's origins go back long before the Crusaders; the earliest remains are Iron Age, shortly after the Exodus, when this was a part of Moab. It was known as Kir-haraseth, Kir-heres, or Kir, and its doom was prophesied by Isaiah (16:7), who mentions its 'raisin-cakes', presumably a local specialty. Then it falls out of history until the Byzantine period, when it was important enough to have an archbishop.
It was the Crusaders who made Kerak (biblical Charach Mouba) famous. The fortress, located 124 km south of Amman, was built in 1142 by Payen le Bouteiller, lord of Montreal and of the province of Oultre Jourdain, on the remains of earlier citadels, which date back to Nabataean times. He made Kerak the new capital of the province, for it was superbly situated on the King's Highway, where it could control all traffic from north and south and grow rich by the imposition of road-tolls
There were -as there are today- two parts of Kerak, both contained within stout walls, but the citadel and its fortress are separated from the town by a deep dry moat. The fortress is typically Crusader, with dimly lit stone-vaulted rooms and corridors leading into each other through heavy arches and doorways. The best preserved are underground, and to be reached through a massive door (ask at the ticket office).
The castle in itself is more imposing than beautiful, though it is all the more impressive as an example of the Crusaders' architectural military genius. Each stronghold was built to be a day's journey from its neighbor. At night, a beacon was lit at each castle to signal to Jerusalem that it was safe.
As the visitor enters the modern gate, one path leads down to the stairs to the lower courtyard and lower vaults, and a second path leads to the upper level. The ruins of the upper level are attributed to the Crusader period, and the staircases leading to the underground level of the upper courtyard provide access to Mamluk architecture complexes, most of which were probably associated with a palace. Among these ruins are a well-preserved school with an adjoining mosque
All the inhabitants of the town could gather for protection within the citadel in times of danger - as they did in 1173 when the Zengid ruler Nureddin attacked the castle. His siege was unsuccessful, as were later attempts by Saladin in 1183 (when the marriage of the heir of Kerak was taking place inside, and Saladin chivalrously kept his siege-engines off the bridal tower), and again in 1184. It was not until the end of 1188, after a siege of more than a year, that Kerak finally surrendered to the Muslims.
Kerak's most famous occupant was Reynald de Chatillon, whose reputation for treachery, betrayal and brutality is unsurpassed. When King Baldwin II (who signed a truce with Saladin) died, his son, a 13-year-old leper, sued for peace with Saladin. The Leper King, however, died without a heir, and in stepped Reynald, who succeeded in the early 1180's in winning the hand of Stephanie, the wealthy widow of Kerak's assassinated regent.
Reynald promptly defied the truce with Saladin, who returned with a huge army, ready for war. Reynald and King Guy of Jerusalem led the Crusader forces and suffered a massive defeat. Reynald was taken prisoner and beheaded by Saladin (the only Crusader king or lord to be executed by Saladin himself), marking the beginning of the decline in Crusader fortunes
In 1263 the Mamluk Sultan Baybars took Kerak. The Arab traveler Ibn Battuta, who visited it in 1355, was much impressed by the castle's strength, and said that it was also called "The Castle of the Raven". Under Ottomans it was ruled by local families until 1840, when Ibrahim Pasha son of Mohammad Ali of Egypt took it, greatly damaging its defenses. After World War I, Kerak was a British administrative center until Emirate of Transjordan was established in 1921. It remains the center of a large district.
Kerak is still a largely Christian town, and many of today's Christian families trace their origins back to the Byzantines. There is a small but interesting museum in the castle, which is one of the finest of its type surviving today.
After leaving Kerak, we headed off to Petra. Mohamad and I had a private discussion the day before about whether we could get there. They had had over half a metre of snow two days earlier and many roads were blocked. Some 300 tourists had been trapped. I said "let's take the chance - will be an adventure anyway". I didn't tell Sue as she worries about things that have not happened. I worry about things that have happened
Snow in Jordan
Petra: - Taybet Zaman Hotel: A great 5 star hotel in Petra. Rooms are designed in Bedouin style. It was made from an original village.