Drive along the same route prophet Moses (pbuh) was forbidden to travel on by the King of Edom (Numbers 20), and picture yourself standing where Moses was laid to rest, and where the late Pope John Paul II tread on his first pilgrimage of the millennium.
Visit the Sanctuary at Mount Nebo: the memorial of Moses (pbuh), the presumed site of his death and burial place, and a center for pilgrimages since earliest Christian times. You’ll be inspired by the biblical feel from start to finish as you experience this divine tour of Mount Nebo .
Mount Nebo is one of the most revered holy sites of Jordan, located 10 km west of the Roman Byzantine town of Madaba, for this is where Moses (pbuh) was buried. The site’s of Mount Nebo association with the last days of Moses is described in moving words in Deuteromony (34:1-7). The episode of Balak and Balam (2:13-26) also took place here.
The site’s other name is Pisgah: “And Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah which is opposite Jericho”. From the mountaintop, which is the highest point in the Moabite range, rising to about 800 meters at its apex, you can admire the dazzling view across the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea, to the rooftops of Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Centuries ago, pilgrims flocked to Mount Nebo on their final destination to visit the sanctuary. These pilgrims left behind vivid accounts of their travels, which helped archaeologists identify this sanctuary.
Mount Nebo – In the summer of 1933, excavations at Syagha, one of the highest peaks at Mount Nebo, began under the direction of the Jerusalemite Franciscan Fathers. Three long archaeological campaigns had previously resulted in the discovery of the Basilica and of a large monastery, which had continued to expand through the 6th century.
Mount Nebo’s first church was constructed in the 2nd half of the 4th century to commemorate the place of Moses’ death. It had three apses and was preceded by a vestibule paved with plain white mosaic; two funeral chapels stood to the north and south of the lateral apses.
At Mount Nebo, Six tombs have been found hollowed from the natural rock beneath the mosaic-covered floor of the church. In the present presbytery you can see remnants of mosaic floors from different periods. The earliest of these is a panel with a braided cross presently placed on the east end of the south wall.
Mount Nebo / The Old Diaconicon Baptistery
The three apsed cella (cella trichola) was preceded by a courtyard. In August 531 AD a Diaconicon Baptistery was built to the north of the courtyard against one of the funeral chapels. It was reached by a short flight of stairs, as it was one meter lower than the floor of the courtyard.
Mount Nebo / The 5th 7th Century Basilica
In the latter half of the 6th century the monks decided to enlarge their sanctuary. When removing the facade, the primitive church became the presbytery and the three naves were constructed on the site of the old vestibule and courtyard.
Mount Nebo / The New Diaconicon
After the funeral chapel and the Diaconicon Baptistery were dismantled, the floor was adjusted to level with the rest of the basilica, making a single large chapel divided by stairs and railing into two separate rooms. The eastern room was decorated with mosaic depicting animals and flowers inserted in a geometrical frame; the western room was graced with geometrical motifs.
Mount Nebo / The Theotokos Chapel
During the first decade of the 7th century, the western door to the baptistery was walled up, three rooms of the monastery were destroyed, and the floor was leveled with the rest of the basilica. This provided the basis and foundation for the construction of the Theotokos (Mother of God) chapel.
This chapel had its own apse and was divided by a railing into two distinct rooms. The floor decoration received special attention with rich geometric multi-color designs encompassing pictures of flowers, animals as well as a ciborium above an altar flanked by two bulls and gazelles.
The restoration at Mount Nebo work preserved for future generations this extraordinary Monument of the Faith and brought new life to a sanctuary constructed in ancient times to honor Moses, the Prophet and man of God. Since September 4, 1976, the annual feast of Moses is celebrated and the Christian community join with the Franciscan Fathers in this solemnity.
Mount Nebo -The Italian artist, Giovanni Fantoni, is credited with designing the metal decorations inside the sanctuary as well as the Serpentine Cross (The Brazen Serpent Monument) on the exterior. These are symbolic of the bronze serpent taken by Moses (pbuh) into the desert, and the cross upon which Jesus (pbuh) was crucified.
About 1 km east of Mount Nebo, you can see the spring of Moses, mentioned by Egeria, Peter the Iberian, and Theodosius. In the springtime, this area is dotted by Eucalyptus trees, which grow close to two churches built in the 6th century, with enchanting mosaics: the churches of Deacon Thomas and Kayanos which were adorned with another mosaic pavement in the seventh Century. The churches were destroyed by a powerful earthquake which hit the region in AD 749.