“ Location: St. George's Church „
Madaba in Western Jordan is a good sized town with a large Christian section of the population which has influenced the construction of a number of churches. The churches contain some special mosaics, but we only visited one - the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George's. The mosaic here, known as the Madaba Map, is Byzantine (estimated 6th century) and depicts a map of the Holy Land as it was known then. Not all the map remains - parts may have been taken by later Muslim rulers in the 8th Century, parts destroyed in a subsequent earthquake. It was re-discovered in the late nineteenth century when a new church was to be built on the site.
In the nearby ticket office (where you will find toilets and a small shop selling postcards, religious gifts and pictures of the map) you will see a reproduction of the map on the wall which you can view before entering the church. I think this is a good idea as the map text is in Ancient Greek, which I suspect is a language not familiar to many of us. Your guide should be able to point out the key points and the wall map is numbered with translations in a variety of languages. The map is not orientated north, as most modern maps are, but east if you are struggling to get your bearings and wondering where the heck they moved Jerusalem to.
Its original dimensions were 16m x 6m, but we can see quite a bit less these days. It allegedly contained over two million pieces and is claimed to be the oldest known geographic floor mosaic, which has apparently help locate other historically significant sites. All this aside, it is still an impressive mosaic to look at and worth a visit if you are in Madaba.
The church itself is quite modern and somewhat smaller than the original church would have been. There are a number of bright, modern religious pictures on the wall, but there is nothing that makes this church impressive in its own right, other than the mosaic which is worth a visit if you are in the area. You can take photos without flash.
Talal St, Madaba