Jordan is a jewel of the Middle East, an enthralling country with spiritual landscapes and legendary places.
Jordan is a destination that calls to me loudly, tugging at me to bond with the land. As I travel through the country, visiting a tapestry of ancient ruins, biblical sites and desert landscapes, the feeling of déjà vu is like a tide that ebbs and flows. It’s a strange sensation of a familiarity with names, places and things. Even though I haven’t been here before, I feel like I know it well.
Places to visit in Jordan
Perhaps the déjà vu is triggered by distant memories of Sunday school lessons or more recent scenes from Hollywood movies. Nevertheless, Jordan is a country of spiritual landscapes, where prophets performed miracles, where some of the world’s oldest churches have been unearthed and where pilgrims journeyed through the desert from Jerusalem.
Many of Jordan’s historic sites are mentioned in the Old Testament. Do you remember Sunday school lessons about Bethany Beyond Jordan, where Jesus was baptized? Or Mount Nebo and Umm Quais, the site of the ruins of the Decapolis city of Gadara where Jesus cast demons out of two men into a herd of swine. The animals ran off down the hill and drowned in the Sea of Galilee.
Fortunately, Jordan’s compact size and excellent roads makes it an easy country to visit. For most people, hiring a driver and a private car is an affordable.
From Amman, it’s worth taking a day trip to the Roman ruins at Jerash. From there, my driver heads to Mount Nebo, where according to the Bible, Moses looked out at the land promised by God to the Israelites.
The parched undulating landscape is treeless and vast. Somewhere in these is hills is where Moses himself is supposed to be buried.
A sign board points the way to Jericho, Qumran and Bethlehem. The Serpentine Cross, which stands on the hill, symbolises the bronze serpent taken by Moses into the desert and the cross upon which Jesus was crucified.
A short drive to Madaba brings me to the Greek Orthodox Church of St George. The church houses a 6th-century floor mosaic map of Jerusalem and the Holy Land.
The map covers a section of the church’s floor and is the oldest known map of the area.
Madaba is called the “City of Mosaics” because of the hundreds of mosaics dating back to the 5th to the 7th centuries scattered through Madaba’s churches and homes.
Fortunately, the craft is being kept alive at the Madaba Institute for Mosaic Art and Restoration, which is a government funded operation that trains artisans in the art of making, repairing and restoring mosaics.