The journey along Jordan’s scenic King’s Highway from Amman to Petra is like traveling back in ancient times. The route is dotted with amazing sites that go as far back as the Biblical period. King’s Highway itself is as old as time – it is the world’s oldest continuously used communication route and was mentioned early in the Bible.
Along the route, we stopped by three historic places that made for a deeply rewarding road trip.
Stepping into Mt. Nebo was like experiencing the pages of the Bible coming to life. According to the Bible, it was here where the Lord showed Moses the promised land and where he lived out his remaining days.
“Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo,… which is across from Jericho. …..” and the Lord showed him the promise land, “Then the Lord said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to give Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have caused you to see it with your eyes, but you shall not cross over there.” – Deuteronomy
It felt so surreal and breathtaking to stand at the same spot where Moses once stood. From here, Mt. Nebo offers a sweeping vista that includes the Dead Sea, the West Bank, the Jordan River, and, on a clear day, Bethlehem and Jerusalem.
According to the Bible, Moses was buried in Mt. Nebo but his exact burial place is unknown.
In 1933, remains of a church and a monastery were uncovered on the highest point of the mountain. It was believed to be constructed around the 4th century AD to commemorate the place of Moses’s death.
Sitting on top of Mt. Nebo near the church is a cross with a serpent, which symbolizes the bronze serpent created by Moses in the wilderness.
The town of Madaba is mentioned in the Old Testament account of Moses and the Exodus. Today, it is known as the City of Mosaics. It is home to the famous 6th century mosaic map of the Holy Land, which is the oldest known map of the Middle East.
Madaba also has a museum that houses other precious ancient mosaics that were discovered in the area. Today, the tradition of mosaic making is very much alive in Madaba. We visited one of the mosaic workshops where we witnessed the making of the art, which has not changed for centuries.
The technique starts by drawing a design on a muslin cloth. The artists then cut and adhere the stones on the muslin. After all the stones are set, the mosaic will be laid face down on a piece of wood with cement. The muslin will be removed and the mosaic will be cleaned and polished.
Our last stop en route to Petra was Shobak Castle, a spectacular 12th century Crusader Fortress. Unfortunately, it just closed for entry when we reached it, but we were able to admire its immensity and grandeur from the outside.
If you’re traveling from Amman to Petra, we highly recommend that you a stop at some of the string of historic sites along the way. It is a road trip you will not forget.
There are a lot more historic and natural sites you can see along King’s Highway:
- Castle of Mukawir – It was a palace of Herod where Salome asked for the head of John the Baptist as a reward for her dancing.
- Wadi Mujib – One of Jordan’s six nature reserves with spectacular valleys and canyons.
- Kerak Castle – Another impressive crusader fortress from the 12th century
- Lot’s Cave – The site where the prophet was said to take refuge after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
- Dana Nature Reserve – Home to a variety of wildlife, breathtaking canyon scenery, ancient copper mines, and local villages such as Dana village, which has been inhabited since around 4000 BC.
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