Madaba is the capital city of Madaba Governorate in central Jordan, with a population of about 60,000. It is best known for its Byzantine and Umayyad mosaics, especially a large Byzantine-Era mosaic map of the Holy Land. Madaba is located 30 kilometres (19 miles) south-west of the capital Amman.
The town of Madaba was once a Moabite border city, mentioned in the Bible. Madaba dates from the Middle Bronze Age. During its rule by the Roman and Byzantine empires from the 2nd to the 7th centuries, the city formed part of the Provincia Arabia set up by the Roman Emperor Trajan to replace the Nabataean kingdom of Petra.
The main sites of Madaba:
- Church of Saint George which houses the famous Map of Madaba that was discovered in 1896 a mosaic of the 6th century representing a map of the Holy Land, sometimes called the "Church of the Map". With two million pieces of colored stone, the map depicts hills, valleys and villages. (Entrance 1 JOD, not included in the Jordan Pass)
- Church of the Apostles, the ruins of this Byzantine church date to 578 CE, and are currently being restored. It includes a mosaic known as the "Personification of the Sea", depicting a woman emerging from the sea, surrounded by mythical aquatic creatures and a hodgepodge of rams, bulls, parrots and exotic vegetation. The mosaic was signed by a mosaicist named Salamanios. (included in Jordan Pass)
- St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church offers a magnificent view of the city as it is possible to climb up to the top of the bell tower (ticket, not included in the Jordan Pass)
The city is rather nice and in addition to the visits of churches, it is quite pleasant to stroll around the city and nibble something in one the several traditional restaurants in the town.