Jordan’s only sea port and beach resort is the city of Aqaba on the Gulf of Aqaba at the country’s most southern point. Jordan shares the gulf’s northern coast with Israel and Egypt. These waters have been vital for regional trade for millennia and are also known to divers for their clear water, coral reefs and great variety of sea life, including many endemic species. Located within a 2-hour drive from Wadi Rum and Petra, Aqaba is a great spot for a few days of R & R after a full touring itinerary.
Ancient Gadara was a Decapolis city, one of ten Greco-Roman city-states on the eastern fringes of the Roman Empire. Matthew 8:28-34 in the New Testament tells that Jesus cast demons from two men into a heard of pigs at Gadara, sending them running down the hill and into the Sea of Galilee. Today the Sea of Galilee is just across a national border from Gadara.
A predominantly Muslim country today, our mystery country had a large Christian population throughout the Byzantine period and beyond. The city of Madaba on the Kings Highway had its own bishop as early as the 5th century and still has a significant Christian community today. The remains of numerous ancient Christian churches have been discovered, mostly in the northern part of town, with much more excavation yet to be done. So many mosaics have been discovered in the ruins, of homes as well as churches, that Madaba is known as the City of Mosaics. The Muslim Umayyad dynasty took control of the area in the middle of the 7th century and many Umayyad mosaics have been discovered as well.