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Madaba - Kings Highway


With roots tracing to biblical times and a renaissance during the Byzantine period, Madaba has earned renown as the "city of mosaics." A visit today reveals the hidden beauty, pebble by pebble, to create a grand picture.

The storied city of Madaba has roots reaching back through biblical history, earning a mention in the Book of Joshua as a conquered city on the edge of Moab as the Israelite's entered into Canaan after fleeing Egypt. The city was blessed with fertile farmland and the wealth that the King’s Highway – an ancient road traversing the Jordanian plateau - brought to its people and infrastructure. During Christianity's Byzantine heyday between the 4th-7th centuries A.D., Madaba gained acclaim, particularly for its stunning mosaic artworks decorating numerous churches and holy sites constructed in the area. Hundreds of thousands of hand-cut stone and glass tiles in brilliant shades covered walls, domes, and floors, depicting vibrant scenes of flowers, animals, Biblical stories, and, most famously, a 6th century mosaic map of the Holy Lands stretching from Lebanon to the Nile Delta - the oldest surviving cartographic depiction that is now protected under the domes of the Church of St. George.

Following the Islamic conquests, Madaba fell into a long decline, with it's artisitic heritage now part of history, and vulnerable abandonment and natural erosion. It wasn't until the late 19th century when locals began unearthing mosaic remnants that interest in Madaba's heritage was renewed. Subsequent archeological excavations in early 20th century unearthed a number of extraordinarily preserved mosaics hidden beneath city streets and structures, creating an influx of pilgrims and locals, reviving the city to its former glory . Several unearthed churches are now open as cultural sites with their dazzling mosaic floors on full display, glimpses into Madaba's heyday when caravan travelers would flock to this desert oasis filled with artistry, culture, and spiritual devotion glimmering pebble by pebble upon its walls.

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How We Got Here

We reached Madaba by rental car, and is easy to visit as it lies only 1 hour south of the capital. We arrived via the eastern deserts.

The Highlight

Gazing at a map of the holy lands over 1,500 years old, and realizing it spans across the whole floor of a church. This size and detail are inspiring.

Our Treasure

Diving deeper into Madaba, we explored some remnants of the town and found an active archaeological dig. Talking to the archaeologists was fascinating to hear their story and the treasures they constantly uncover here.

Explore More

    ➨ The King's Highway - Read the Story

S N A P S H O T S   O N   T H E   R O A D

W H E R E   W I L L   Y O U R   J O U R N E Y   T A K E   Y O U   N E X T ?

Madaba dazzled with it's artistic display, but the journey through the fabled route continues, and this time to a town known more for its military might that art. 

Continue the journey to none other than Karak, with its imposing crusader castle overlooking every passerby. Watch out and don't act suspicious.


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