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On bended knee atop Mt. Nebo

magnificent Islamic MosqueAfter a breakfast, we checked out of the Crowne Plaza in Amman Jordan and departed for a magnificent Islamic Mosque, situated across the street from a beautiful Egyptian Coptic Christian Church. I’ve got an entire post on that experience I’ll render when I get back to the States.

From the mosque, we headed to Rabbat Ammon. This high elevation overlooking modern day Amman offers a chance to study a strategic fortress for the Ammonites and then later the Romans. The latter of whom build an Acropolis-like temple. The former whom fell to Israel, but only after David sold-out Uriah as described in 2 Samuel 11. Both historical events, along with many others, corroborated in several well kept and well displayed artifacts in a museum at this well traveled site.

From there, it was onto Mount Nebo, the resting place of one of the most revered prophets by Islam, Judaism and Christianity alike. Mount Nebo is where Moses gazed upon the Promised Land. A view to die for, and die Moses did after viewing these verdant hills and pastures described in Deuteronomy 34. Unlike Moses, and more recently Pope John Paul II, our view from the front platform of a 6th Century Basilica was obscured by a haze created by a sand storm in the nearby desert.

From what I understand, on a clear day, one can enjoy a panoramic view of the Jordan Vally and the Dead Sea, including the rooftops of Jerusalem and Bethlehem. While the view was still good, it just wasn’t as spectacular as it has been for others.

Still, we enjoyed the Bascilica, which itself was obscured until three recent archaeological campaigns over sixty years brought this treasure to light. Begun in the summer of 1933 under the direction of the Jerusalemite Franciscan Fathers, careful excavation provided us with several images of some of the most magnificent mosaic floors I’ve ever seen … that is until we arrived at Madaba.

Image from the city of mosaicsCommonly known as “The City of Mosaics,” Madaba provided this former alterboy with a very special treat as we visited the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George. Many wonderful icons, some which I’ve been asked to bring home as gifts. One mosaic I won’t manage to get into my suitcase is a vivid sixth-century Byzantine mosaic map showing Jerusalem and other holy sites. afterwards we ventured in the heart of the city, or Haret Jdoudna – which is also the name of a rather nice restaurant in Madaba. There we had a chance to hit the shops. Sorry Mom, no icons today, but other good stuff.

At the end of our day, we relieved our aching joints much in the same way Herod did with a dip on the hot Ma’in Springs. Good thing two, because tomorrow and Sunday are going to include some serious hiking.

Oh yes, tomorrow night we’ll post pictures from today, once we find an internet cafe with some ‘seriously better bandwidth‘ than what we’re dealing with tonight. See Chuck’s post from tonight entitled “Blogging from Internet Heck” for more details.

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