Church sights in Middle East
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The ruined Churchof St Stephen, protected by an ugly hangar, is one of four churches in the original village. Inside, the magnificent mosaics date back to about AD 785. If you have mosaic fatigue after Madaba and Mt Nebo, try to muster up one last flurry of enthusiasm for this well-preserved masterpiece. There are depictions of hunting, fishing and agriculture; scenes of daily life (such as boys enjoying a boat ride, a man astride an ostrich); and the names of those who helped pay for the mosaic. A panel consisting of 10 cities in the region includes Umm ar-Rasas, Philadelphia (Amman), Madaba, Esbounta (Hesban), Belemounta (Ma’in), Areopolis (Ar-Rabba) and Charac Moaba…
It’s easy to understand why this rather modest 19th-century Greek Orthodox church has such a magnetic attraction. Imagine the excitement in 1884 when Christian builders came across the remnants of an old Byzantine church on the site of their new construction. Among the rubble, having survived wilful destruction, fire and neglect, the mosaic they discovered wasn’t just another mosaic, it was one with extraordinary significance: to this day, it represents the oldest map of Palestine in existence and provides many historical insights into the region.