THE HOLY LAND
Travelling around Jordan is walking on holy ground. Many of Jordan's cities and villages are named in the Bible. To name but a few: the kingdoms of Ammon, Moab and Edom are located along the six thousand years old King's Highway. From the top of Mount Nebo one can see the Dead Sea, as well as Jerusalem and Jericho, just like Moses did when he first caught a glimpse of the Holy Land. Near the river Jordan lies Bethany, the home of John the Baptist, and the place that Jesus fled to for safety after being threatened to be stoned to death in Jerusalem.
During the Byzantine empire, which began in 330 AD and lasted until 640 AD, Jordan's population increased and prospered. The most common religion in those days was that of the early Christians. Throughout the country you can still visit many archaeological remains of this period.
The famous Byzantine mosaics are very impressive. Although mosaics were also made in private homes, nowadays they can almost only be seen in churches. The mosaic of mosaics can be found in Madaba, which hosts the sixth century map of Jerusalem and the Holy Land. Other famous Byzantine sights can be found in Jerash, Umm Qais and Umm ar-Rasas.
Jordan has also been the battleground of the crusades. When the Arabs attacked the holy places of the Byzantines, the crusaders came to their aid. The castles of Karak and Shobak are both strategically built on top of a mountain along the King's Highway. It's worth visiting them, even if only to admire the view. It was in Karak where Saladin and Richard Lionheart fought their battles.
After the Byzantine period Islam became the most common religion. Jordan contains some of its most holy places. The empire of the Islamic Ummayyad dynasty reached from Central Asia to Spain. The Ummayyads built the Alhambra in Granada, the Mezquita in Cordoba and the famous mosques in Damascus and Aleppo. In Jordan they built several palaces, mainly in the eastern desert. In those days that part of the desert was more vegetated than it is nowadays, and it was used as a hunting ground. Some of the best preserved castles from early Islamic times are the castles of Ajloun, Mushatta, Amra and Azraq.