Just 20 minutes south of Amman, on the Kings Highway, is the mosaic-filled city of Madaba. Crowned by a small church, this historic town lies in the middle of Jordan’s most fertile land. In many respects Madaba is a typical East Bank town which differs in one major aspect: underneath almost every house lies a fine Byzantine mosaic. Many of these mosaics have been excavated and are on display in the town’s museum, but it is estimated that many more lie hidden waiting to be discovered. The finest mosaic found to date is still in its original place on the floor of the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George.
This huge well -preserved work of art comprises a map of the entire region from Jordan and Palestine in the north, to Egypt in the south. Many towns and cities are depicted in picture form, complete with walls and pitched re-roofed houses, while in the Nile huge fish swim. Madaba is also famous for its hand-woven rugs which are made in small streen-front workshops on upright looms in modern and traditional colors and designs.
Visitors to the Dead Sea area should take advantage of another nearby wonder, Hammamat Ma’in (Ma’in Hot Springs). Popular with both locals and tourists alike, the springs are located 264m below sea level in one of the most breathtaking desert oases in the world. Thousands of visiting bathers come each year to enjoy the mineral-rich waters of these hyper-thermal waterfalls. These falls originate from winter rainfalls in the highland plains of Jordan, and eventually feed the 109 hot and cold springs in the valley. This water is heated to temperatures of up to 63° Celsius by underground lava fissures as it makes its way through the valley before emptying into the Zarqa River.