Madaba, map of Holy Land • Jordan

Discover Madaba, the "City of Mosaics", in this captivating short film. Explore an ancient mosaic map of the Holy Land, a treasure of St. George's Church, capturing the historical and artistic essence of this ancient Jordanian city.
00:00 • intro | 00:10 • Saint George church | 00:52 • the map of Palestine

made with photos and videos taken during the trip Jordan (EN)


Madaba, in the south of Amman in Jordan, is a very old city which is mentioned in the bible under the name of Madeba. The city is estimated to be nearly 4000 years old. The city came under the rule of various invaders during antiquity, from the Moabites around 1200 BC to the Romans. Many vestiges as well as an old Roman road are still visible today in Madaba.

The city is important for the Christians of the East. Its heyday was in the Byzantine era, when it became an important bishopric. It was also at this time that the architecture of Madaba began to change with the construction of many churches. Byzantine art is famous for the quality of its mosaics among others.

Madaba was destroyed by the major earthquake that occurred in the region in 749. Many other cities also suffered greatly from this natural disaster. Then, Madaba was gradually abandoned by its inhabitants.

It was not until the end of the 19th century to see life reborn in Madaba. Religious tensions were already high at this time and masses of Christians fled Kerak to escape persecution by Muslims. Kerak is originally a Crusader fortress which passed into Muslim hands from Saladin before becoming the capital of the Mamluk kingdom in the 12th century. This domination would last until the beginning of the 20th century.

Map of Palestine

Among the most remarkable Byzantine mosaics found in Madaba is this astonishing map of Palestine which is currently in the Church of St. George, an Orthodox church built in 1986 on the ruins of a 6th century Byzantine church.

This map has been dated by historians. It was made in the 6th century. Originally, this map of the Holy Land from southern Lebanon to the Nile delta originally measured 21 by 7 meters and consisted of over 2 million fragments. It is much smaller nowadays, due to the lack of care taken by the builders of the new church. Large fragments of the mosaic were lost during the work, and the construction manager had no qualms about placing a pillar in the middle of this historical map. Pity...

But what remains, however, gives a good idea of ​​the geographical knowledge of the time as well as the dexterity of the Byzantines in mosaic matters.

Spoken comments in the film: 

In Madaba, there is a basilica which houses an ancient mosaic map, the map of the Holy Land. 

Madaba is a city of 60,000 inhabitants in central Jordan. The city is famous for its Umayyad mosaics, one of the most remarkable of which is a detailed map of the Holy Land. This mosaic is currently in the Orthodox Basilica of Saint George.

altar of Saint George church, Madaba • Jordan
Greek Orthodox Church, Madaba • Jordan

Greek Orthodox Church

the high altar of the Greek Orthodox Church, Madaba • Jordan

the high altar of the Greek Orthodox Church

overview of map of palestine in greek orthodox church, Madaba • Jordan

overview of map of palestine in greek orthodox church

inside the Greek Orthodox Church, Madaba • Jordan

inside the Greek Orthodox Church

Madaba, Jordan