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Introducing Madaba

This easy-going town is best known for its superb and historically significant Byzantine-era mosaics. The town has a strong sense of its unique history, making it a major stop on the tourist trail. Madaba is the most important Christian centre in Jordan, and has long been an example of religious tolerance, a place where the Friday call to prayer from the mosque coexists with Sunday church bells; Muslims make up two-thirds of the population, and Christians one-third.

Madaba is compact and easily explored on foot, with some excellent hotels and restaurants, and is less than an hour by regular public transport from Amman, so it's worth considering as an alternative to Amman as a place to stay. It's even possible to come straight by taxi from Queen Alia International Airport, bypassing Amman altogether.

Madaba is also a good base for exploring the Dead Sea, Bethany-Beyond-the-Jordan (Jesus' baptism site) and other local sites such as Mt Nebo, Mukawir (Machaerus) and Umm ar-Rasas.