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What to See and Do in Madaba, Jordan: A Tourist's Guide

Jun 26

Nestled in the heart of the Middle East lies the historic city of Madaba, Jordan. Despite being a small, laidback city, Madaba boasts a rich history and culture dating back to ancient times. Known for its breathtaking mosaics, centuries-old churches, and stunning surroundings, Madaba has become a popular destination for tourists from around the globe.

If you plan a trip to Jordan, include Madaba in your itinerary. In this tourist guide, we'll take you through the city's best attractions, provide practical tips for your visit, and give you a glimpse of what makes Madaba a truly unforgettable destination.



A brief overview of Madaba, Jordan, as a travel destination

Madaba, Jordan, known as the "City of Mosaics," is a hidden gem in the Middle East that offers tourists and history buffs unique attractions. The city has a substantial Christian population, which can be felt in the architectural and cultural attractions that it has to offer.

One of the main highlights in Madaba is Saint George's Church, also known as the Church of the Map. The mosaic map, which dates back to the 6th century, is considered the oldest map of Palestine and depicts Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, and the Nile Delta. 

Another must-see in Madaba is the Madaba Archaeological Park. Visitors can explore the remains of a once-flourishing Byzantine provincial town, rediscovered in the 19th century by Christians fleeing from Karak City. The ruins include churches, villas, and roads, all adorned with impressive mosaics.

Mount Nebo is also a popular tourist destination in Madaba, where visitors can admire panoramic views of the Jordan River and the Dead Sea. Mukawir, another significant ruins site, is known for being the location where John the Baptist was imprisoned and executed.

Madaba offers plenty of accommodation options, from budget-friendly hotels to luxury resorts. The city is best visited in the spring or fall when the weather is mild and comfortable for exploring. Visitors should wear modest clothing and always carry water, especially if walking in historical sites and surrounding areas.

Madaba, Jordan, is a perfect destination for those who want to discover the lesser-known gems of the Middle East. With its rich history, unique attractions, and welcoming atmosphere, Madaba should be on every traveller's bucket list. [1][2]



Importance of visiting Madaba

Madaba, Jordan, is a fascinating travel destination that shouldn't be missed when visiting the Middle East. The city is rich in history and culture and offers travellers a unique perspective on the country. Here are some reasons why visiting Madaba is important:

1. Discover the Oldest Map of Palestine: One of the main reasons why people visit Madaba is to see the mosaic map inside Saint George's Church. This ancient map is the oldest and displays Palestine, Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, and the Nile Delta. It's a must-see for history buffs and anyone interested in ancient cartography. 

2. Explore the Archeological Wonders: Madaba is known for its rich collection of Byzantine-era mosaics in various churches and archaeological sites throughout the city. Visitors can also explore the Madaba Archaeological Park, which houses the remnants of ancient buildings and showcases the city's history.

3. Visit Mount Nebo: Located only a short distance from Madaba, Mount Nebo is a site of great spiritual and religious significance. According to the Bible, it was the place where Moses saw the Promised Land before he died. Visitors can enjoy stunning views of the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea from the top of the mountain.

4. Experience the Dead Sea: The Dead Sea is a natural wonder near Madaba. It's the lowest point on earth and is famous for its salt and mineral content, which is said to have healing properties. Visitors can float in the sea's buoyant waters or cover themselves in therapeutic mud.

5. Try Local Cuisine: No trip to Madaba is complete without sampling some local cuisines. The Haret Jdoudna Restaurant is a popular spot that serves traditional and modern dishes and offers a cosy and lively atmosphere.

Visiting Madaba is essential to any Jordanian itinerary, as it offers unique cultural and historical experiences that cannot be found elsewhere. Plus, its proximity to other attractions, such as the Dead Sea and Mount Nebo, makes it a convenient and accessible adventure for travellers. [3][4]



Mention of practical information to be discussed in the blog post

In this article, we will provide you with a brief overview of Madaba, Jordan, as a travel destination and the importance of visiting this historic city. We aim to equip you with all the practical information you need before starting your journey. Here are some things we will mention in this blog post:

- Where to stay: We will recommend some of the best accommodations in Madaba, Jordan. Whether you're looking for budget-friendly options or five-star hotels, we've got you covered.
- The best time to visit: Depending on your preferences, we will provide different options for when to visit Madaba, Jordan. From avoiding the crowds to experiencing the city's vibrant culture, we will ensure you have all the necessary information to plan your trip.
- What to wear: Dressing appropriately for your journey is essential. We will give you tips on what to wear during your visit to Madaba, Jordan.
- Saint George's Church (Church of the Map): We will discuss in detail why this church is significant and a must-visit attraction in Madaba, Jordan.
- Madaba Archaeological Park: This park is full of history, and we will provide you with a comprehensive guide on what to expect when you visit the park.
- Mount Nebo: We will discuss why this mountain is significant and why you should include it in your itinerary when visiting Madaba, Jordan.
- Mukawir: We will provide a comprehensive guide on what to expect when you visit the ancient fortress of Mukawir.
- Haret Jdoudna Restaurant: We will provide an overview of this famous restaurant and what to expect when dining there.
- Dead Sea: We will discuss all the practical information you need before embarking on your journey to the Dead Sea, including the best time to go and what to bring.
- Wadi Mujib: We will provide a comprehensive guide on what to expect when you visit the breathtaking Wadi Mujib.

With all this practical information, we are confident you will have an unforgettable experience in Madaba, Jordan. [5][6]



Saint George's Church (Church of the Map)

Mad, Jordan is a remarkable place steeped in rich history and natural beauty. One of the region's major highlights is Saint George's Church, also known as the Church of the Map. This Byzantine Church, built in the 19th century over remains of an ancient Church, houses the oldest surviving archaeological map of the Holy Land. It is considered one of the most important treasured artworks in the world and a must-visit for art enthusiasts, history buffs, religious scholars and travellers alike. So why is it so important?

The map comprised approximately 2 million pieces and was crafted between 542 and 570 AD. Though it measures only a fraction of what it once was, it remains an incredible masterpiece. This map extensively depicts Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Jacob's Well, other biblical sites, and important places such as the Dead Sea, the Jordan River, and the Nile Delta. The accuracy of this map has helped with several other discoveries, making it a valuable resource for understanding the ancient world.

Once inside the Church of the Map, visitors can admire the iconic and informative mosaic. In addition to the map, the church also features mosaic-like paintings on the walls that are worth admiring. Additionally, visit the small museum to the side of the altar, which contains interesting artefacts. Due to its significance, the Church of the Map attracts visitors from all over the globe. Therefore, it is better to have a guide with you to help you understand the significance of the artwork.

Regarding practical information, visitors can expect the church to be open daily from 8 AM to 5 PM during winter. It is recommended to allocate around 30-45 minutes to explore and learn about the Church of the Map. It is always advisable to carry travel insurance just in case of any unexpected incidents during your travels. [7][8]



Madaba Archaeological Park

Mad Archaeological Park is a must-visit destination travelling to Madaba, Jordan. This park covers a wide area and is home to various archaeologically significant sites, including St. John the Baptist Church, the Burnt Palace, and the Madaba School. The park is within walking distance of the Church of St. George and can easily be visited with a trip to the church.

One of the main highlights of the Madaba Archaeological Park is the Burnt Palace. The palace was built in the eighth century AD and was destroyed by fire in the ninth century. Much of the palace has remained intact, including some beautifully preserved mosaics, which give visitors an insight into what life was like in Madaba during this time.

Another important site in the park is the Madaba School, which was built in the sixth century AD and functioned as a Byzantine church. Visitors can see the remains of the building's frescoes and a beautiful mosaic floor depicting various birds and animals.

St. John, the Baptist Church, is also located within the park. This church was built in the fifth century AD and served as a church and a fortress. The church has been largely destroyed, but visitors can still see the baptismal font's remains and the apse's remains.

Overall, the Madaba Archaeological Park is a fascinating destination that provides visitors with a unique glimpse into the history of Madaba and the surrounding region. So, if you are planning a trip to Jordan, include a visit to this remarkable park on your itinerary. [9][10]



Mount Nebo

Mount Nebo in Jordan is a must-visit destination for anyone travelling to the Middle East. This rocky outcrop, which stands 710 meters above sea level, serves as a pilgrimage site for Christians and offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the Jordan River valley, the West Bank, Bethlehem, and Jerusalem on a clear day.

The visit can begin at the viewing platform, where the famous Brazen Serpent Monument is located, representing the serpent on a pole Moses erected to protect his people from poisonous snakes. The Serpent Statue also symbolizes the crucified Jesus, thus uniting two crucial images in Christianity.

Mount Nebo's historical and religious significance stems from the Old Testament, where Moses climbed to the peak and saw the Promised Land, even though he never could step on it.

When planning a visit to Mount Nebo, the site opens at 7 AM in the winter, and tickets can be purchased at the gate. The entrance fee is 3 JD per person, and visitors must have their knees and shoulders covered to enter Moses Memorial Church. Travellers can reach Mount Nebo by rental car from Madaba, which requires a 15-minute drive, or take a shared or private taxi from Madaba for around 1JD and 5JD, respectively. Additionally, private tours are available, including visits to Madaba and Mount Nebo. 

The hilltop is not just a viewing platform; it also houses the Serpentine Cross Church and the Moses Memorial Church, both of which have well-preserved mosaics on the walls and floor. Visitors can take their time exploring the site and enjoying the light breeze and the scent of olive trees. Moreover, the site offers restrooms and a gift shop. In conclusion, Mount Nebo is not just a pilgrimage site, but it also offers an opportunity to learn about the history of the region, enjoy breathtaking views and well-preserved mosaics, and experience a peaceful and spiritual environment [11][12]




Mawir is a must-visit destination when exploring Madaba and its surroundings. This historical site has a fascinating story behind it and offers stunning views of the Dead Sea and the Jordan Valley. Here are some facts and tips to consider when planning your visit to Mukawir:

- Mukawir is also known as Machaerus, a fortified palace with a significant role in the region's history. It was built by Herod the Great, who ruled over the area in the 1st century BC. Later, it became the residence of Herod Antipas, who was responsible for the beheading of John the Baptist.
- The ruins of Mukawir are located on top of a hill, which requires some physical effort to reach. However, the climb is worth it as the panoramic view from the top is breathtaking. You can see the Dead Sea, the mountains of Moab, and the Jordan Valley, among other landmarks.
- Besides the view, Mukawir offers several attractions, including the remains of the palace, the Roman amphitheatre, and the prison where John the Baptist was allegedly held captive. The site also has a small museum with artefacts from the area's history.
- If you plan to visit Mukawir, it's recommended to wear comfortable shoes and bring sunscreen and water, as the sun can be intense in the area. Visiting early in the morning or late in the afternoon is advisable to avoid the heat.
- Mukawir is included in the Jordan Pass, a tourist package allowing visitors to access several attractions in the country. The pass is a cost-effective way to see the sights and save time on ticket purchases. However, it's important to note that not all attractions are covered by the pass, so check before you go.
- Mukawir is a hidden gem in Madaba's surroundings that offers a glimpse into the region's rich history and a stunning landscape view. It's a must-visit destination for history buffs, nature lovers, and anyone seeking an off-the-beaten-path experience in Jordan. [13][14]



Haret Jdoudna Restaurant

Haret Jdoudna Restaurant is a must-visit place for food lovers who wish to sample traditional Arabic cuisine during their stay in Madaba, Jordan. The restaurant, located in a historic 19th-century house in the charming village of Madaba, serves a variety of local delicacies that are sure to please your palate.

One of the highlights of the multi-course meal offered at the restaurant is the Arabic mezze, which includes staples such as hummus, grilled halloumi, stuffed vine leaves, eggplant, and freshly-baked bread. The menu changes with the season and availability of ingredients. Still, some standout dishes include made, pickled eggplant with garlic and walnuts and a wide variety of fresh salads and starters.

The restaurant's ambience is reminiscent of an ancient Jordanian village, with a courtyard designed to represent a 5000-year-old city. The gorgeously restored rooms and floors of the 19th-century home add to the restaurant's charm, and on cold evenings, there's often a blazing fire in the hearth.

Apart from the culinary experience, Haret Jdoudna also houses a craft mosaic and souvenir shop on-site, where visitors can browse after their meal.

Private pickups and drop-offs are offered as part of the lunch or dinner package, a convenient way to sample Jordan's cuisine and culture. Visitors staying in Dead Sea hotels can book the package to enjoy the 4-hour lunch or dinner experience at Haret Jdoudna restaurant, which includes a private transfer by air-conditioned leisure new vehicle.

The restaurant does not serve alcohol, a common practice in local tourist restaurants in Jordan. Guests can cancel their reservation up to 24 hours in advance for a full refund, and the activity is offered in English, with other languages available upon request.

Haret Jdoudna Restaurant is a delightful culinary destination among Madaba's best. The restaurant combines traditional Arabic cuisine, an ancient ambience, and convenient private transfers to create a memorable experience that visitors won't forget. [15][16]



Dead Sea

The Sea is one of the fascinating natural wonders of the world, and visiting it is a must-do activity for any traveller in Jordan. Here are some facts and tips to know before planning your visit to the Dead Sea:

- The Dead Sea is the lowest point on earth, around 430 meters below sea level. Its high salt content, ten times saltier than the ocean, makes it impossible for any living creature to survive in its waters.

- The mineral-rich mud found in the Dead Sea is famous for its healing properties, and many tourists come to the area to apply the mud all over their bodies and then soak it in the sea for a unique spa-like experience.

- The Dead Sea is surrounded by breathtaking views of mountains and desert landscapes, making it a perfect spot for hiking and nature walks.

- One of the most unexpected things about the Dead Sea is that you can easily float on its waters without any effort. Whether you are a good swimmer or not, you will enjoy this surreal experience that only happens once in a lifetime.

- The best time to visit the Dead Sea is during the year's cooler months, from October to April. During the summer, temperatures can reach up to 45 degrees Celsius, making it very challenging to enjoy this natural wonder.

- It is recommended to drink a lot of water and avoid staying in the water for too long, as the high salt content can be harsh on your skin and eyes.

Visiting the Dead Sea is a one-of-a-kind adventure that should not be missed. With its unique features and natural beauty, it will be an unforgettable experience you will cherish for a lifetime. [17][18]



Wadi Mujib

Wadi Mujib is a must-visit attraction for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts alike. This stunning canyon, also known as the "Grand Canyon of Jordan," is just over an hour away from Madaba and offers a unique experience. Here are some reasons why Wadi Mujib should be on your itinerary:

1. Hiking: This is undoubtedly the most popular activity in Wadi Mujib. Several hiking trails are available, ranging from easy walks to challenging treks. The most famous is the Siq Trail, which involves walking through the narrow gorge and crossing streams. Depending on your fitness level, it can take around 2-3 hours, but the breathtaking views make it well worth the effort.

2. Waterfall: Another highlight of Wadi Mujib is the impressive waterfall that greets you at the end of the Siq Trail. You can swim in the refreshing water or marvel at the cascading water from afar.

3. Wildlife: Wadi Mujib is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including ibex, vultures, and eagles. Keep an eye out for these creatures as you explore the canyon.

4. Eco-tourism: Wadi Mujib is a protected area and, as such, is committed to preserving its natural beauty. You can support this effort by choosing eco-friendly tour operators and being mindful of your environmental impact.

5. Accessibility: Despite its rugged terrain, Wadi Mujib is quite accessible. There are facilities for visitors with disabilities, and children as young as six can participate in the Siq Trail.

Wadi Mujib is an adventure that shouldn't be missed on your trip to Jordan. It's a perfect blend of natural beauty, physical activity, and eco-tourism, making it a unique and rewarding experience for all who visit.