Madaba: what to see, how to get there and other useful information

Madaba It is, for many, one of the most pleasant surprises in Jordan and, of course, an essential place for those who travel moved by the Christian religion. To this is added its proximity to
, its airport and other places of interest in the country, such as the
Dead Sea
, making it a regular stop
on our tours of Jordan
. On this page we tell you
what to see in Madaba and we give you other information of interest, such as its geographical location and how to get here.

Table of Contents

Where is Madaba and what is it like?

Madaba It is the main city of the governorate of the same name. It is part of the Jordanian Highlands (altitude of 760 masl), but in this case it is very close to Amman: it is only 40 km from the capital, which makes it very accessible by road. It has a population of just over 120,000, which places it among the 10 most populous cities in Jordan

Madaba Map

A bit of history

Archaeological evidence indicates that the territory of Madaba It was inhabited since the Bronze Age, and in its beginnings was a frontier settlement, disputed between the Moabites (descendants of Lot, fruit of his incestuous relationship with his daughters), the Israelites and the Ammonites (settled in the territory of present-day Amman).

Some centuries before the change of era, the Nabataeans took control of the territory, but since 105 AD, it was under the orbit of the Roman Empire, which made it a prosperous provincial city.

However, it was his successors, the Byzantines, who really gave him an important role, especially at the religious level. Proof of this was that its bishop participated in the Council of Chalcedon in 451, which shows that Madaba It was a reference city in the first centuries of Christianity. At that time, he saw how numerous churches were built, enriched with beautiful mosaics.

Around 632 it was conquered by the Arabs, although the Byzantine forces had managed to resist other attacks, such as the famous battle of Mutah. But the city did not have much time to flourish: in the following century, it suffered a devastating earthquake that caused its abandonment for more than a millennium.

It was not until the late nineteenth century when it was repopulated, mainly by Christians from Karak, in conflict with the Muslims of that city. The constructive work they carried out made many of the mosaics known today see the light, especially the map of the church of San Jorge. After that, the interest towards Madaba spread throughout the West, from where numerous archaeological excavation projects were organized.

Today, Madaba It is a Muslim-majority city, but the percentage of Christian inhabitants is the highest in the whole country: above 35% of the population according to some estimates, with modern churches serving their faithful. It follows that Madaba It has always had a very strong tradition of religious tolerance, of which its inhabitants are proud. In addition, this makes it possible for a part of its economic and cultural activity to be related to Christianity, as demonstrated by the prestigious Institute of Art and Restoration of Mosaics.

What to see in Madaba

What to see in Madaba

Undoubtedly, the most important thing to see in Madaba are its mosaics, most of them preserved
in situ
in their original places. But there are also other interesting spaces related to it, which give them context and deserve a visit if you are going to spend a full day here. This is the list of main places What to see in Madaba:

  • Church of St. George and its mosaic-map: although the current temple of the nineteenth century (of Greek Orthodox worship) has a modest appearance, its interior keeps an authentic relic, which is the mosaic-map of the Holy Land, the oldest preserved and of great historiographical value, as it provides abundant information about the region. For this reason and for its beauty, it is one of the main monuments what to see in Madaba
  • Church of the Beheading of San Juan Bautista: it is another recent temple, in this case of Catholic worship, but of more imposing aspect for its rich façade, in which old stone ashlars were used. Although perhaps the most interesting thing is underground: in its vaulted basement there is a musealized site with a Moabite period well
  • Church of the Apostles: externally, it does not seem to announce the fascinating richness of its interior, which is a mosaic of the mid-sixth century where the twelve apostles and sea creatures are represented, with a detail and a state of conservation so extraordinary that it looks like a carpet
  • Archaeological Park I: it is one of the two archaeological parks of the city and inside the church of the Virgin Mary is preserved, built in the sixth century, with its corresponding mosaic. Older if possible is another mosaic at the entrance of the complex, from I BC, and is one of the oldest preserved in Jordan
  • Archaeological Park II: in this other archaeological park, close to the previous one, you can distinguish mainly a luxurious mansion, with mosaics that in this case have non-religious themes (hunting scenes). It also includes the church of the Martyrs and an ancient Roman road.
  • Madaba Museum: small museum built to house, of course, other mosaics of great interest, but in this case with a somewhat more daring and ‘profane’ theme: for example, one of Ariadne in a sensual dance and another of a naked satyr
  • Dar Al Saraya: although there are not many elegant palaces to see in Madaba, this can be considered one of the most attractive, from the early twentieth century, built in the last years of Turkish domination of the city
  • Visitor Center: this is a nineteenth-century palace restored for informational purposes for visitors arriving in the city, but it can also be considered an interesting place to see in Madaba for its cozy atmosphere

How to get to Madaba

One of the great advantages of Madaba for tourists is that it is very close to the Queen Alia International Airport of Amman, the great gateway for international travelers. They are only 15 km away, which can be traveled by car in just 20 minutes. Therefore, it is possible to visit Madaba as soon as he arrived in the country, without having to go to other cities before.

However, the most common is to get to Madaba from Amman: the capital of Jordan is 40 km away, a distance that can be traveled by car, taxi, minibus and bus (JETT tourist service, on a route that also includes the holy sites of
Mount Nebo and Bethany Beyond the Jordan

Minibuses, however, are an uncomfortable option, lacking a strict schedule (they only leave when they fill up) and JETT’s tourist service does not run every day. Therefore, having a private vehicle will be the most comfortable solution.

Madaba is also not very far from the Black Sea (30 km), so it is feasible to organize a visit to Madaba on the way to that tourist destination, as soon as you land in the country, since it is passing through from the Queen Alia International Airport.

This is a list of alternative distances and durations from Madaba:

  • Amman: 40 km, 40 minutes
  • Mount Nebo: 10 km, 15 minutes
  • Bethany Beyond the Jordan: 40 km, 1 hour
  • Dead Sea (Swemeh): 30 km, 40 minutes
  • Jerash: 80 km, 1 hour and 15 minutes
  • Shobak: 190 km, 2 hours and 15 minutes
  • Wadi Musa (Petra): 215 km, 2 hours and 45 minutes
  • Wadi Rum: 275 km, 3 and a half hours
  • Aqaba: 300 km, 3 hours and 45 minutes

Other information of interest

Since there are many travelers who come here daily, there are several places where you can expand information about what to see in Madaba. First, the aforementioned Visitor Center, with information panels, an introductory video to the city and brochures for tourists.

The other information space of Madaba is the office of the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, where in addition to providing material to the traveler they explain the archaeological and restoration projects in force.

Plan your trip to Madaba

Disfruta de Madaba
Enjoy experiences
Cambia tu moneda unicamente Espana Madaba
Change your currency (Spain only)
Vuelos muy baratos Madaba
Very cheap flights
Alquila tu coche Madaba
Rent your car
Contrata Wifi o telefono Madaba
Hire Wifi or phone
Quieres una tarjeta Madaba
Do you want a card, we have it!

Other destinations



Contact one of our travel advisors for commercial assistance.