Jordan is an incredible destination for culture – from its historic roots in the Bedouin people and the Roman empire to its modern place in the Middle East. This is expressed in many art forms, perhaps the most famously known of which is mosaics. There are a great number of mosaics in Jordan dating back to the Byzantine era (4th to 7th centuries), many of which can be visited easily as part of a normal Jordan itinerary.
During my visits to Jordan, I’ve had the chance to see many mosaics – and discover new ones for myself as more are uncovered and put on public display. You might be interested in seeing mosaics during your trip to Jordan too, and wonder where they are. Below you’ll find a list as well as a map of some of the most common places to see mosaics in Jordan.
While I don’t normally do “round-up” posts like this, I thought it might be helpful to share a shortlist of the best places to see mosaics in Jordan, so you can be sure to include them in your own trip plans if admiring ancient mosaics is one of your Jordan must-dos. So if artfully arranged stone in beautiful patterns – aka mosaics – is your thing, read on… here are the best places to see mosaics in Jordan.
Map of (Popular) Mosaics in Jordan
As you can see, mosaics can be found across Jordan, and the above map includes just a few of the most popular places visitors might see them. There are, of course, many other destinations too; if you know of one I should add to this list, be sure to let me know in the comments.
If there’s one must-visit place for mosaics in Jordan, it’s Madaba – also called the City of Mosaics. While there are Byzantine mosaics across Jordan, Madaba has some of the most extensive and best-preserved – and it is home to a flourishing revival of mosaic artistry so you can find modern mosaics made in the same style and techniques as the historic mosaics you visit.
The must-visit spot for mosaics in Madaba is St. George Church. This Greek Orthodox church has a huge mosaic map on the floor, originally spreading some 15.6 meters wide and 6 meters tall. While it is not fully intact, it is well-preserved enough that historians have been able to verify its accuracy in depicting the Jordan Valley and Dead Sea region. The detail and artistry of this mosaic is truly impressive, and the church that surrounds it is still active today.
Near Madaba, Mount Nebo is another must-visit spot for mosaics and religious history. Mount Nebo is the site where Moses looked out over the Jordan Valley and showed the Israelites the Promised Land; today a chapel stands atop the hill and protects several layers of beautiful mosaics within. These mosaics date back through several time periods, including the Byzantine era, and there are preserved mosaics from the surrounding region hanging on the walls too.
Additionally, there’s another mosaic outside the chapel, which can be missed; look for the tent near the museum to gaze on another work of mosaic art in its original form.
If you know anything about the ruinous city of Jerash, it’s probably that it dates back to the Roman period – which is true: most of the site is of Romina origin. However, the Byzantine era that followed took advantage of Roman construction, and there are several churches on the grounds as well.
One includes a stunning large mosaic that has been partially – and rather unimpressively – restored. The restoration work shows how incredible the detailing of the original mosaics truly is; there’s a clear difference in quality and artisanship between the modern mosaic work and the original.
Petra too is better-known for its Nabatean structures and façades but is also home to a Byzantine-era church with mosaics. It’s actually quite easy to miss this church if you only walk the main trail along Colonnaded street; instead, you’ll need to look for the columns and modern roof on the north side of the road and then climb a short trail to reach the church. Most interestingly, you can actually walk into the church and get up close and personal with the mosaics here.
While dating back to a different era – the Crusades – Ajloun castle north of Amman also has a small mosaic in one part of the building. Given that it is primarily defined by two fish (which denote Christianity), it’s likely that this small chapel was operated in secret rather than openly, but the little mosaic that remains is still worth seeking during your visit.
Mosaic Souvenirs in Jordan
If you love mosaics and would like to bring one home as a souvenir from Jordan, I recommend visiting the shops near Madaba. In particular, stop by Art River Mosaic Workshop. This shop works with local individuals with special needs to teach them mosaic-making as an option for their career and proceeds from the shop support this work too. They have a huge variety of mosaics to choose from, as well as a number of other Jordanian souvenirs (like jewelry, Dead Sea products, and tchotchkes).
I also saw mosaics as souvenirs in other souvenir shops in Jordan, but as I can’t verify the authenticity of the work, I recommend shopping in Madaba if you want one to bring home and know is Jordanian-made.
Have you seen any of these mosaics in Jordan – or know of others I should add to this list? Let me know in the comments!