Madaba

Travel Guide Middle East Jordan Madaba

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Introduction

Madaba is a small town in central Jordan located south of the capital Amman on the King's Highway, some 10 kilometres from Hesban.
A town with a long history, Madaba is best known as the location of the "Madaba Map", a 6th-century mosaic depiction of Jerusalem and many parts of the Holy Land.

In biblical times the city was part of the Moab Kingdom. After having been conquered by the Persians and after a devastating earthquake in 746 AC, they city was left alone and remained mostly abandoned until 1890, when the reconstruction of a Greek-orthodox church revealed the famous mosaic.

Madaba with about 80,000 inhabitants is approximately 10% Christian (Catholics & Greek Orthodox). Much of the traveller and pilgrim infrastructure is run by the Franciscans however. For the Bedouins living around the area, Madaba is an important market place.

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Sights and Activities

In the city

  • Basilica of St. George (Church of the Map). The famous map of the Middle East, plus a bunch of mosaic portraits. Buy ticket from the interpretive centre to the side, although why waste time on a lecture when you can just go and look at the map. 1 JD.
  • Madaba Archaeological Park. W-M 08:00-17:00. The highlight of Madaba, this is where to see many of the ancient mosaics discovered. 3 JD which includes entry to Archaeological Park, Madaba Museum and Apostles Church.
  • Madaba Museum. W-M 08:00-17:00. A few more rooms of mosaics, pottery and jewellery. Also includes an outside courtyard area with ancient statues.
  • Shrine of the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist. Daily 09:00-19:00. Interesting 19th-century church which has underground rooms hosting a museum, and a church bell tower to climb to see a full view of Madaba. Regarding the beheading see also Machaerus below. 1 JD.
  • Church of the Apostles. Small church with nice mosaics on the floor. The attendant will freshen them up with water to show you. In the process, he and you will walk all over the mosaics, for which he will expect a tip. 3 JD.
  • Iron Age Fortification Wall on West Acropolis.
  • Madaba Art Gallery. 2 rooms filled with oil paintings and watercolours from Madaba artists.

Around the city

  • Dolmens at Al Fayha (Wadi Jadid is 10 kilometres to the southwest of Madaba city at Al Fayha village.). This Wadi is a field of dolmens (Burial Chambers or large stone memorials), where you could see more than 40 dolmens (12 of them standing in a very good condition) and the rest are damaged probably by earthquakes. Also there are several menhirs, cupholes and stone alignments as well. These dolmens dating to around 3000 BC, from the Early Bronze Age I. The locals there believed that dolmens are the houses of ghosts, they called it in Arabic Bit Al Ghula. edit
  • Mount Nebo (9 km northwest of Madaba, on the road leading to the Dead Sea). This historic site provides a panorama of the Holy Land, and to the north, a more limited one of the Jordan River valley. The excavated remains of a church and a monument commemorating the biblical story of Moses and the bronze serpent stand atop the mountain. This is the spot where the Hebrew Bible says that Moses stood and witnessed the "promised land". Visit before sunset to take in the Franciscan Monastery and Church located here. Visitors can plan to spent less than half an hour at the site. 1 JD. edit
  • Umm ar-Rasas (from the highway south take the road east at Dhiban, 30 kilometres southeast of Madaba). A UNESCO World Heritage Site which contains ruins from the Roman, Byzantine, and early Muslim civilizations. The majority of the site has not been excavated. The most important discovery on the site was the mosaic floor of the Church of St Stephen. It was made in 785 (discovered after 1986). The perfectly preserved mosaic floor is the largest one in Jordan. On the central panel hunting and fishing scenes are depicted while another panel illustrates the most important cities of the region (including Kastron Mefaa, Philadelphia, Madaba, Esbounta, Belemounta, Areopolis, Charac Moaba, Jerusalem, Nablus, Caesarea and Gaza). edit
  • Fortress of Machaerus (Mukawer) (30 kilometres southwest of Madaba, bypassing Hammamat Ma'in Springs). This is the biblical Machaerus, the fortress of Herod the Great, where his son Antipas imprisoned and later executed John the Baptist, for whom a shrine was built in Madaba

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Getting There

The city is 25 kilometres from Queen Alia International airport and 35-40 kilometres from the Dead Sea, potentially making it the ideal place to start or end your trip to Jordan.

By Car

If driving, the very centre of town has narrow crowded streets, but just a few hundred metres away, you can find wide roads with plenty of parking.

A taxi is a good option, especially if you're in a group. The cost depends on your bargaining abilities but it can go from 8-12 JD. Or you go by meter, which is about 12 JD. from northern Amman.

By Bus

The Madaba Bus Station is in the east of town, next to the highway. Madaba is about a half hour from Amman. There are frequent minibuses each way (about 500 fils each way). Catch one from the 7th circle in Amman - it comes from the centre direction and takes a turn south onto the airport road, directly after which you will find the bus stop.

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Getting Around

Madaba is a very small city, one can easily get around by on foot. Although a taxi from downtown to the bus station is a good idea (about 0.5-1 JD). Taxis traveling within the city do not use the taxi meter the car is equipped with, but operate at a standard fare of 0.65 JD per trip. Make sure you agree on this price with the driver before hopping on.

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Eat

There are many little falafel and kebab places, some better than others.

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Drink

Alcohol is widely available and there are a lot of liquor shops in town. If you are travelling to Wadi Rum and prefer wine during evening in the Bedouin camp, buy alcohol here as it is only available in the luxury hotels and camps in Wadi Rum, which most likely will be very far off - not many camps are close to each other.

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Sleep

  • Moab Land Hotel, King Talat Street (Opposite of St. George Church). Highly rated on hotel website. Dorm bed from 5 JD; double rooms 18 JD.
  • Queen Ayola Hotel, King Talat Street (70 meters south from St. George Church). Another decent option, but not as highly rated as Moab Land Hotel. Dorm bed from 5 JD.
  • Mariam Hotel, Aisha Um Al Mu'mineen Street (2 blocks to the right of Al Muhafada Circle), ☎ +962 5 3251529, fax: +962 5 3251530, e-mail: reservations@mariamhotel.com. Check-in: 08:00, check-out: 12:00. Nice and fair place but with signs of use and missing maintenance of the rooms and the building itself. The breakfast is straight but nothing special. A classic two-star hotel but with very friendly staff, 57 rooms and a large outdoor swimming pool. Does arrange airport pickups for a fixed price of 12 JD - call ahead or send an email. 20 JD.
  • Salome Hotel, Aisha Um Al Mu'mineen Street (2 blocks to the right of Al Muhafada Circle), ☎ +962 5 3248606, fax: +962 5 3248607, e-mail: info@salomehotel.com. 30 JD.
  • Mosaic City Hotel, Al yarmouk St (1 block after Al Muhafada Circle), ☎ +962 5 3251313, fax: +962 5 3250013, e-mail: info@mosaiccityhotel.com.
  • Saint John Hotel, King talal Street, ☎ +962 (05) 324 6060, e-mail: info@saintjohnmadaba.com. In a fringe area of the tourist street, mostly quiet but the owner struggles with certain members of his staff against the street. Excellent rooms, new aircon and TV, near museums, close to the actual market where actual people actually buy things they actually need. Avoid the typical tourism hazards while getting a true experience of the street. 22 JD.
  • Black Iris Hotel, ☎ +962 53250171. Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 11:00. The Black Iris Hotel has clean non-smoking rooms. Offers tours to nearby areas including Mt. Nebo and the Dead Sea. 25-35 JD.

You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

Booking.com

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Keep Connected

Internet

Jordan is relatively well connected to the internet compared to many other countries in the Middle East. Internet cafes are all around Jordan and range from 1- 2 JD for half an hour. Wifi is getting more and more popular in Jordan, but is not very common everywhere. In larger places, you find free wifi and some coffee places and restaurants. Hotels tend to charge for wifi, but not always, so check beforehand.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

Jordan's international country code is 962. The emergency numbers include 112 and 911, you can use them both.

Most of Jordan has mobile coverage. There are three mobile operators: Zain - the first and largest mobile provider, Orange and Umniah. You can buy SIM cards at any of these providers and if you are planning to make international calls, use Umniah as they are the cheapeast. Otherwise Zain is the better choice of mostly domestic calls. Using your own SIM in Jordan can be expensive, especially for internet.

Card-based temporary numbers can be purchased at the airport or any mobile shop for JOD5. These numbers can be subsequently recharged with a prepaid card starting at only JOD1. Temporary "throw away" phones can be bought at many mobile phone shops across the country for around JOD20-30, but a Jordanian must buy the phone before possession can be transferred to you.

Post

Jordan Post runs the postal services in the country. It has fairly reliable and cheap services and international post usually takes several days up to a week or more for countries further away. Opening hours of post offices are mostly between 7:00am and 5:00pm Saturday to Thursday and 7:00am to 1:00pm on Friday, although this depends whether it's a main city or smaller villages. In summer, there might be slighty longer opening hours. For larger packages, it might work out cheaper and certainly faster to use international courier services, including DHL, FedEx, TNT or UPS for example.

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Accommodation in Madaba

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This is version 10. Last edited at 12:57 on Mar 19, 18 by Utrecht. 2 articles link to this page.

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