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Jordan: Ajlun, Amman, Aqaba, Bethany Beyond the Jordan, Dead Sea, Jerash, Karak, Madaba, Mount Nebo, Pella & Umm Qays, Petra, Wadi Rum
Mount Nebo, Jordan: Simply Biblical
by Prakash Bang, Editor in Chief
Mount Nebo was the final station in Moses’ historic flight from Egypt to the Holy Land. Moses and his people camped ‘in the valley near Bethpeor’, a place long associated with the site known today as Ayun Musa (Springs of Moses), a small lush valley northeast of Mount Nebo. It is believed that Moses was buried on Mount Nebo and, therefore, the most revered holy site in Jordan. Atop this mountain one can see, as Moses did, the vast panorama that encompasses the Jordan River Valley, the Dead Sea, Jericho and Jerusalem – The Promised Land.
After breakfast we checked out from our hotel in Amman and left for Mount Nebo. It was just an hour’s drive. A small Byzantine church was built there in the late 4th century by early Christians. Now it has been expanded into a vast complex. At the time of my visit, construction work was being carried out. The church premises were out of bounds for visitors.
However, we had the opportunity to move around the complex, visit the museum and see the famous mosaic. Unfortunately, due to an overcast sky we were not able to see far beyond as Moses did.
Standing in the complex is the Serpentine Cross. It symbolizes the serpent taken by Moses into the desert and the cross upon which Jesus was crucified. During the exodus, God instructed Moses to erect a bronze serpent on a pole to stop a plague he had sent to kill the rebellious Israelites. All who looked upon the serpent were spared death. The curative serpent wrapped around a pole would later become the symbol of the pharmaceutical industry.
After spending an hour atop Mount Nebo, we drove to nearby Mount Nebo Foundation – school for the handicapped. Here, students are taught to create mosaic work. The produce is sold to visitors. We moved around the outlet for about 20 minutes and continued our journey forward. In about 30 minutes we were at our next destination – Madaba.
Known as ‘City of Mosaics’, the town’s most famous attraction is the Greek Orthodox church of St. George. Within the church is a wonderfully vivid, 6th century Byzantine mosaic map showing Jerusalem and other holy sites. With two million pieces of coloured stone and a full 25 x 5 meters in its original state – most of which can be seen even today – is a map that depicts hills and valleys, villages and towns, as far away as the Nile Delta.
Using the King’s Way we crossed Al Mujib Valley. King’s Way was built some 4000 years ago to enable trade and to facilitate Roman military movement. It’s the world’s oldest highway and is indeed the most prominent one in Jordan today. The road runs 450 kms from Syria up north to Aqaba down south.
Wadi Mujib is a gorge in Jordan which enters the Dead Sea at 410 meters below sea level. The valley is just 4 kms as the crow flies but is more than 20 kms long because of the serpentine road that negotiates the hills. The valley is 450 meters deep. We took a brief stop at a view point that offered panoramic glimpse of the valley.
We drove forward to reach the town of Karak, the location of the famous Karak Castle. Standing 900 meters above sea level, the castle was built by the Crusaders in 1142 AD. Crusaders essentially were from Germany, Belgium, France and some other parts of Europe. Karak castle is a dark maze of stone-vaulted halls and endless passageways. The castle offers an impressive insight into the architectural military genius of the Crusaders.
A few hours away was our final destination for the night – Petra. For lunch we took a break midway in a restaurant. For miles and miles there was nothing in site – just arid desert. We reached Petra at about 7PM and checked into Movenpick Hotel. It’s a great place to stay. It has well appointed rooms and dining facilities. What’s more, it stands just at the gates of the second wonder of the world – Petra.
Mount Nebo Image Gallery Photo viewer
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