This lovely town is the center for Jordan’s mosaic industry. Madaba is often referred to as a Christian city because a large proportion of its inhabitants are of the Christian faith. There are many fabulous ancient mosaics on display. An important stop on any traveler’s itinerary is the famed ‘St George Church,’ an orthodox Christian church, which has a 6th Century Byzantine map of the ancient Middle East enshrined in an ancient mosaic on its chapel floor. There are also beautiful old mosaics in the Church of the Virgin and the Apostles, and the Archeological Museum. Interestingly, virtually hundreds of other 5 th-7th Century mosaics are to be found throughout Madaba’s churches and private homes.
Madaba was mentioned in the Bible as ‘Medeba’ at the time of the Exodus (Numbers:21, 30 and Joshua 13:9) and was at that time an Amorite settlement near the border of Moab. The Nabateans (‘of Petra fame’) governed the city during the 1st century A.D. Then during Byzantine rule a Christian bishopric was established here, and it was during this time that the famous and spectacular mosaics were crafted throughout the town. An invasion by the Persians and then an earthquake in 747 A.D. destroyed the town and it was abandoned for nearly 1000 years. In 1880, a large group of Christians from the nearby town of Kerak
re-settled Madaba and it was they who found the mosaics as they rebuilt from the rubble. In addition to the Churches and Museum, there is also another interesting stop here: the Mosaics School, which teaches students in the ancient art.