Issued by the Catholic Center for Studies and Media - Jordan. Editor-in-chief Fr. Rif'at Bader - موقع أبونا

Published on Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Madaba is the city of Arab tourism

Fr. Dr. Rif'at Bader :

It is not surprising that the Jordanian city of Madaba wins the title of the Arab Tourism City for the next year, namely 2022. We rather have the right to wonder why this announcement was delayed for this year, bearing in mind that the city of Madaba is historical and archaeological as it has several touristic sites, especially those related to religious tourism. Madaba is mentioned in the Holy Bible dozens of times including the most famous event reporting Prophet Moses standing on the top of the Mount Nebo overlooking the Holy Land of Palestine.


In 381, Spanish pilgrim Egeria visited the holy places and arrived in Jerusalem during the Feast of the Resurrection (Easter). She returned to her country on the second day marking this feast in 384. During these three years, she visited the holy places and recounted her impressions in Latin in a manuscript called "A Pilgrimage Trip in Egeria" which was discovered by Italian intellectual Jian Francis Jamorni. In the manuscript she recounts her visit to Madaba and Mount Nebo in 381. She says that she saw monasteries as well as religious men on Mount Nebo who were very hospitable, and provides details of the site she saw.


After the elapse of 1,640 years since one of the most important trips this lone lady took at a time when her book of memories is considered an indispensable reference, Madaba represents the forefront of "hospitality" and deserves to be the city of Arab tourism for the next year. We hope, of course, that this year will be a year free of corona as well as of anything that would  affect the good planning and implementation of the touristic attraction plans and the functionaries that will accompany this announcement relevant to the city, which of course comes on the heels of the announcement of the sisterly city to Madaba, namely Salt as a city of tolerance and urban hospitality.


Madaba is distinguished by religious tourism due to its numerous sites which include Mount Nebo,  Khirbit Al-Makhit (or the city of Nebo), the Church of the Apostles and the Virgin, the Church of the Map which can be traced back to the 6th century , the Church of the Beheading of John the Baptist, as well as the mosaic panel placed by Caritas Jordan at the entrance to the Roman Catholic Church which became the recent touristic attraction in the city. Furthermore, the city is characterized by mosaic schools that were established in the 6th century and renovated in the 20th century.  Furthermore, the city is surrounded by attractive  sites, namely the Baptism Site which is not far, the Dead Sea on the west, and southwards  there is the Mukawir Site, namely the place of the martyrdom of John the Baptist, as well as Umm al-Rasas which was discovered in 1987 by late Father Michele Piccirillo.


I believe that the organizers of the tourism city celebrations will never forget to honor this distinguished priest who contributed greatly to the excavations at Mount Nebo and the discovery of the Baptism Site of Lord Jesus Christ. Of course, we are awaiting the opening of a landmark or a museum bearing the name of this wonderful man who requested that his pure body be brought from his native country, Italy, after he became severely ill and asked to be buried on the top of Mount Nebo. His wish was fulfilled.


On December 20,1999 I wrote an article posted in Al Rai daily quoting a public song titled "O Madaba, we have ambitions". In the article I supported the organizers of Madaba's grand jubilee 2000, and today I urge those in charge to activate Madaba as a city of tourism. Today, I support  those in charge of activating the Jordanian city of tourism as this matter needs activating the partnership among the touristic, media  and ecclesiastical  sectors not only in Madaba but also in  the beloved Jordan which abounds with holy places.