Saturday, October 14, 2023

Israel/Egypt/Jordan 2023 - Day #18 - Mosiac Cooperative, St. George Church & Shobak Castle

Madaba & Mt. Nebo

Two of Jordan’s Most Sacred Sites

Witness the burial site of Moses and view a remarkable map of the Middle East created in the 6th century.

Mt. Nebo is revered as the place where Moses was buried, one of the most sacred spots in Jordan. You will drive to the mountain’s summit to visit the site of the 4th-century Byzantine church that commemorates his death. As you explore, marvel at the preserved floor mosaics, baptismal font and Brazen Serpent sculpture. Next, continue to the ancient town of Madaba and its Greek Orthodox Church of St. George. Built in 1896 over the remains of a 6th-century Byzantine church, it is home to an incredibly preserved mosaic map of the Middle East depicting the region from Lebanon to the Nile River delta, including the Holy Land, as it was known in the mid-500s. Of the map’s original 1,020 square feet, about one-quarter of it remains.
Since the bus wasn't leaving until 9 am, Sharon and I slept a little later. I didn't get up until almost 7 am.

After a buffet breakfast at the hotel, we loaded back on the bus. They switched the schedule around; we did Mt. Nebo on Friday afternoon rather than today.

The first stop was a Mosiac Cooperative. The Jordan River Foundation launched the Mosaic Cooperative in 2011 with the support of Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah. The cooperative is located in the town of Madaba which is known for its Byzantine mosaics. The cooperative provides training and employment opportunities for women from the local community and produces high-quality mosaic products that are sold to tourists and collectors around the world.

We got a demonstration and explanation of the mosiac making process. Sharon ended up buying two small mosiacs.

The next stop was the St. George Church in Madaba. It is a 6th-century Byzantine church that is home to one of the most famous mosaics in the world. The mosaic, which is known as the Madaba Map, is a floor mosaic that depicts the Holy Land and surrounding areas. It is one of the oldest and most complete maps of the Holy Land to survive from antiquity.

Walking back to the bus from St. George Church, we stopped and had lunch. We got a bit of time to shop after lunch. I got a chance to buy Sharon a Christmas ornament. I hadn't seen any Christmas ornaments in Egypt!?!.

Back on the bus, it was a three hour ride towards Petra. We stopped at Shobak Fortress. The castle was built by the Crusaders in the early 12th century. It served as a vital stronghold in their defense of the Kingdom of Jerusalem.
We finally got to Petra a little after 5 pm. We are staying two nights at the Movenpick Petra.

Getting cleaned up, we met the group in the bar for a cocktail. We finished the day with a wonderful group dinner at the Al Iwan Restaurant in the hotel celebrating my and Sharon's anniversary. I had lamb chops.
With an early start planned to explore Petra on Sunday, Sharon and I crashed about 10 pm.

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