Jordan woos X-mas revellers in Biblical land

New Delhi, Nov 21 (Not in Town/IBNS) Celebrate your Christmas holidays with a difference! Spend time in the destination that echoes with stories from the Bible and where the spirit of Jesus Christ and spirit of Christianity is omnipresent all around, says the Jordan tourism department as it sets out to woo tourists planning a holiday during the Christmas.

A Holy land Tour in Jordan during this special time guarantees an unforgettable Christmas holiday of a lifetime!, it says.

Sites of Biblical importance in Jordan such as Bethany beyond the Jordan, Madaba and Mount Nebo were all designated as Jubilee Year 2000 pilgrimage sites in the Middle East by the Catholic Church.

Three Popes also visited Jordan - Pope Paul VI in 1964, Pope John Paul II in 2000, and Pope Benedict XVI in 2009. The site of John the Baptist's settlement at Bethany Beyond the Jordan, where Jesus was baptised, has long been known from the Bible and from Byzantine and medieval texts.

The actual site has now been identified as the site that extends between Tell al-Kharrar (Elijah's Hill / Tall Mar Elias in Arabic) Madaba and its hinterlands were repeatedly mentioned in the Old Testament as Medeba.

Some of the finest art of the early Christian centuries can still be seen in Madaba city and its surrounding regions in central Jordan. Between the 4th and 7th centuries AD, the prosperous ecclesiastical centre of Madaba produced one of the world's best collections of Byzantine mosaics, many superior examples of which are well preserved.

Anjarah church inside

Several church floor mosaics can be seen in their original locations, while others have been moved for protection and displayed in the Madaba Archaeological Park. The Park houses Jordan's oldest mosaic - a 1st century BC floor from the herodian Palace-fortress at Machaerus. But Madaba's real masterpiece, in the Orthodox Church of Saint George, is the 6th century AD mosaic map of Jerusalem and the Holy Land - the earliest religious map of the Holy Land in any form to survive from antiquity.

Madaba has been dubbed "The City of Mosaics" and John the Baptist Church area, on the east bank of the Jordan River in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Tell al-Kharrar is the place from which Elijah is believed to have ascended to heaven in a whirlwind on a chariot of fire. Wadi al-Kharrar is believed to be Kerith Ravine, the natural stream "east of the Jordan" where God commanded Elijah to seek refuge from King Ahab and Queen Jezebel.

Then there is the beautiful Mount Nebo, where according to the final chapter of Deuteronomy, the Hebrew prophet Moses was given a view of the Promised Land that God was giving to the Hebrews. According to Jewish and Christian tradition, Moses was buried on this mountain by God himself, and his final resting place is unknown.

North of Jordan lies Anjara, where in a rebuilt cave stands Our Lady of the Mountain Church - that is venerated as a place where Jesus and his mother Mary passed during their journeys between the Sea of Galilee. Anjara was designated by the Vatican as a Millenium 2000 pilgrimage site. The cave in Anjara has long been a holy place for pilgrims.

Jordan is a modern country with an ancient culture, a land of which visitors can walk through the valleys, hills and plains whose names have become part of human history by virtue of the simple deeds and profound messages of prophets who walked the land and crossed its rivers during their lives. Many of the sites where they are said to have performed miracles or reached out to ordinary people have been identified, excavated and protected, and are now more easily accessible to visitors.

Visit Jordan for that perfect holiday that combines cultural knowledge and spiritual enrichment.

--IBNS (Posted on 21-11-2013)

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