Tag Archives: Madaba

Dining Out

One other thing about my trip to Madaba, as the day wore on I had to make a decision about getting dinner in Madaba or going back to Amman. While wandering around the town, trying to make up my mind, I came across this restaurant with its menu posted outside.

Seems that on their second try they also mastered the spelling of “fillet”.

What kind of meat… mystery meat.

I wounder if I can get portraitabella mushrooms with my fotochini.

This, of course, was not the only restaurant in Madaba and while I’m sure its food is better that its spelling, I decided to go back to Amman. A friend of mine called me and we ended up going here for dinner.

Madaba, City of Mosaics

Upon arriving to the bus station in Madaba, I began to try to get my bearings. I had a tourist map from a previous trip to the city but, for some reason, whoever drew the map decided that the bus station wasn’t important enough to be included. So I have a map but no land marks to tell me where on the map I am.

However, being a good boy scout, I brought along my compass. There are only a few major roads in Madaba and I was on one of them. But which one? Well, my compass reading said that the road I was on was running 30 degrees off of North and South. Thankfully, there was only one major road that matched that bearing. Golden! Now I knew which road I was on.

Of course, I didn’t know exactly where on that road I was but I made my best guess as to which way to go. It wasn’t long before I started seeing signs leading me through the maze-like side streets toward my first landmark, the visitors center. From there finding all of the other places was pretty straight forward.

Madaba has been inhabited for over three thousand years and makes a cameo appearance in the Bible in Numbers 21:30 and Joshua 13:9. However, it wasn’t until the 6th and 7th centuries, under the Byzantine Empire, that it began to flourish as a center for mosaic artistry, something it is still chiefly known for today. One of the city’s most famous works is a mosaic map of this region found in the Greek Orthodox Basilica of Saint George. It is the oldest known map of this area and is made of more than 2 million stones.

This is the church, the Basilica of Saint George:

This is inside the church:

They still have services every Sunday.  They just roll a carpet over the top of the mosaic and bring in pews.

This is the mosaic:

This is a close up of the part showing Jerusalem:

While this mosaic map is the most famous mosaic in Madaba it is by no means the only one.

There are many archaeological sights in the city.  This one is a church that was also built in the 6th century.  It is call the Church of the Virgin Mary and was build on top of a Roman mansion that dates back even earlier:This is a mosaic depicting a Greek tragedy found in that mansion:

Other mosaics can be found in old tombs or churches in various places around the city.  Here is one of the Tree of Life found in a tomb near the Church of the Virgin Mary:

Here are a few from the Church of the Apostles:

And mosaics continue to be made today.  They are all hand crafted and there are many shops where you can watch as they are being made.

I had a great time exploring the city of Madaba and I hope to go back this next weekend with a couple who have come to Jordan to run our guesthouse.

You can click on any of the pictures to see a larger view.  Enjoy.

On a Bus to Madaba

In addition to doing some sight seeing here in Amman, I also recently got to go to Madaba. Madaba is a town south of Amman that has a very rich cultural history. It is most known for the mosaics that artisans have produced there for centuries. But I’ll talk more about that in another post. I have to get to Madaba first.

There are a number of ways to get to Madaba from Amman. You could rent a car for a day for 20 to 30JD (~ $28 to $42 U.S. dollars). You could get a taxi for about 15JD (~ $21). Or you could take the bus for .65JD (~ 90 cents). Hummm… which one should I go with… ?

After deliberating for an entire nanosecond, I decided to take the bus. If you read my earlier post about riding the bus you probably won’t be surprised to hear that taking the bus is always a bit of an adventure. You’re never 100% certain about where you’ll end up but the odds are in your favor that you’ll get where you want to go. And for less than a buck, I’ll take them odds.

So, I went to Ragadan Station to catch my bus to Madaba. There aren’t any signs to tell you which bus goes where and a bus that goes to one destination won’t necessarily be found in the same spot the next time. However, some buses do have their destination written on the front of the bus. Luckily for me, after just a little bit of looking, I found one labeled ‘Madaba’.

Upon boarding the bus, the driver gave me a strange look and asked me where I was going. After shaking off the feeling of deja vu, I told him “Madaba” and took my seat at the back of the bus near an open window. I got comfortable and looked forward to a pleasant ride. In all honesty, I enjoy riding the bus. I find it relaxing. Usually.

As the bus began to fill up, a man took the seat behind me and immediately decided he wanted the window closed (it was shared between our two seats). So much for the refreshing breeze. To add insult to injury, not terribly long after we had gotten on our way, this man and his friend both decide they need a cigarette.

Something to know about Jordan, if you ever plan on visiting here, is that smoking is permissible anywhere. Your taxi driver will smoke in the car with you. Your doctor will smoke in the clinic with you. I’ve seen restaurants that have “no smoking” signs above the tables and ash trays on the tables. So, on the bus, it is always possible someone might light up. You just hope that they aren’t sitting right behind you. With the window closed.

It wasn’t too long, though, before this guy and his friend got off and I was able to enjoy the fresh air of countryside. The ride from this point on was quite pleasant as we drove through ancient farmlands covered in olive groves or fields dotted with Bedouin tents. In what seemed like no time at all we were rolling into Madaba.