Sunday, 16 January 2011

Visit to Umm Ar-Rasas

I have been quiet this last month but it doesn't mean that I haven't been doing stuff. Still so much to see in Jordan. I started off the new year with a visit to Umm Ar-Rasas (also known as Um Er-Rasas, Kastrom Mefa'a). The site is located 30 kilometres south-east of Madaba and it makes it a perfect afternoon trip from Amman. We had lunch at Haret Jdoudna in Madaba and then continued to Umm Ar-Rasas. I wrote about that restaurant a year ago, after our first visit to Madaba, and their website was under construction... well it still is! But the food is still great, their hummus is yummy, my favourite is their lamb sausages in a tomato sauce, delicious.

Umm Ar-Rasas has been a world heritage site since 2004 - it started as a Roman garnisson, became a town in the 5th century. Most of the site has not (yet?) been excavated - the highlight is definitely one of the 16 discovered churches: Saint Stephens Church (AD 785) with its very well preserved mosaics.

St Stephens Church
It is easy to see that it was a big church, with several chapels. As I said the mosaics are very well preserved: the ones on the right underneath show the cities of the region (Palestine, Jordan or Egypt) written in Greek script.

In the top right corner, you can see an Icon, the only one there I believe

This section shows: Kastrom Mefa'a, Philadelphia (Amman) and Madaba.

Underneath a couple of pictures from the Church of the Lions - called so because of the mosaics found. It is not possible to see the mosaics as they are covered by plastic and sand for protection. I can only guess that this is a temporary solution until a more suitable one is found.

Like all sites in Jordan, there wasn't much information available, so do some research before you go if you want to enjoy it fully. There is a visitor centre but apart from the tourist police, everything was closed. We didn't pay an entrance fee, but had the pleasure of a escort by one of the police officers, who didn't speak much English, we still gave him a tip at the end of the tour. If you have a stroller it is possible to walk around with it on the major track. 

Some more pictures...

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