Leaving the spiritual ambience of Mount Nebo we head towards the small town of Madaba some ten minutes away. This small town and its surrounding areas are repeatedly mentioned in Old Testament as Medeba.It features in the narratives related to Moses and the exodus,David’s war against the Moabites,Isiah’s oracle against the Moab and the rebellion of the King of Moab (Mesha) against Israel.Phew, endless history here!
We stop first at a workshop showcasing the art of mosaic making.Most of the artists/craftspersons here are disbaled (hard of hearing or mute). The large shop attached to the workshop is a virtual treasure trove.
We are spellbound by the exquisite detailing,especially in the portraits.The stone used is all from around Jordan and the shades in the mosaic work are exactly the same as those in the ancient mosaics (like the one I showed in the earlier post). I have so many pictures from around the place that it is hard to choose just one(but if I don’t you will still be getting Postcards from Jordan till the end of the year!) But the one below is my favorite for its sheer chutzpah and I have to share it . A modern use for a very ancient art.
We reluctantly leave the place empty handed( expensive stuff) and head towards the Orthodox Church of St. George in Madaba that houses the most famous ancient mosaic.This little church is mesmerising in its explosion of colors,its artworks and the devotion of those praying inside.The mosaic here is actually a map of the Christian Holy Lands from the 6th century A.D
Soon its time to leave the church and head for the famous Crusader castle of Kerak. We simply do not have enough time to go see the Madaba Archeological park that houses some of the finest pieces of early Christian art,especially mosaics.
As we wind our way towards the famous castle (shooting of the film ‘The Kingdom of Heaven’ was done around here) we pass Biblical pastoral scenes again. Sheep grazing on this hills, bedouin tent camps along the hillsides…..scenes straight out of the past. We come then to the spectacular Wadi Mujib (Valley Mujib) and spend a good 15 minutes soaking in the sheer rugged beauty of these hills,the valley and the dam below.
It is hard to tear ourselves away from the scene but we have some more distance to go before we arrive at the Crusader castle. I juggle between using my binoculars and taking pictures. There is just so much to take in.Ancient ruins from Roman (or even earlier) eras come into view quite often as we pass through small villages. Finally our car curves around a bend and there in its full glory is Kerak Catle.It is a huge one and the present day town is nestled within it.You see the castle walls punctuated by new houses and then the old walls continue.The people live within the ramparts of the castle just as they do in Jaisalmer fort,I believe.
I was planning to write about Kerak Castle in this post itself but I think it is too interesting a place and I have too many spectacular photos for me to share here.So, the next postcard shall come your way from Kerak Castle.Brush up on the Crusader-Muslim conflicts in the meantime.