Church of Saint George at Madaba - History and Facts | History Hit

Church of Saint George at Madaba

Madaba, Madaba, Jordan

Oldest known geographic floor mosaic in art history located in Saint George church of Madaba, depicting the Holy Land.

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About Church of Saint George at Madaba

The Church of Saint George at Madaba is an early Byzantine church also Known as the “Church of the Map”.

History of Church of Saint George at Madaba

This early Byzantine church in Madaba, Jordan holds the famous Madaba Map of the Middle East; a floor mosaic dating back to the 6th century AD depicting an area from Lebanon to the Nile Delta, and from the Mediterranean Sea to the Eastern Desert. It is the oldest known geographic floor mosaic in art history.

Most probably made by the Christian community of Madaba, it contains cartographic depiction of the Holy Land and especially Jerusalem which is the largest and most detailed part in the center of the map. It faces east towards the altar which coincides with the actual compass directions of locations.

After conquests and earthquakes, the mosaic was rediscovered in 1884, during the construction of a new Greek Orthodox church and underwent restoration by the Volkswagen Foundation in the 1960s.

In 1967, excavations in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem revealed the Nea Church and the Cardo Maximus in the exact locations depicted by the Madaba Map. In 2010, the discovery of a road running through the center of Jerusalem as shown on the map again proved its accuracy and priceless value for the archaeologists.

Church of Saint George at Madaba today

The church of Saint George is one of the most beautiful churches in the world and it’s one of the main places of worship and pilgrimage across Jordan. Decorated with sumptuous interiors, elegant colonnades and various mosaics, the Greek Orthodox Basilica of Saint George hosts the mosaic map of the holy land.

Note that on Friday and Sunday mornings the church opens at 7am for Mass (visitors are welcome); viewing the map at these times is not permitted.

Getting to Church of Saint George at Madaba

The church is roughly 38 kilometres south of the city of Amman in Jordan. If travelling by car from here, take route 35 southbound (40 minutes approx.) until you reach Madaba.

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