Mosaic of the Jerusalem Map

Church of the Map
Madaba, Jordan

The Church of the Map is the modern Greek Orthodox Church of St. George, built in 1884 over a ruined Byzantine church from the time of Justinian (527 - 565). Its mosaic map, belonging to the original Byzantine foundation, is the oldest existing map of Palestine. It is now greatly deteriorated, with many sections missing.

This map of Jerusalem is one area of the mosaic that fortunately survives. East is to the top of the photo, reflecting the traditional orientation of Byzantine churches. The Holy City is captioned in red letters, "Hagia Polis Ierousa[...]". The Damascus Gate is on the left (north), and the upside-down Church of the Holy Sepulchre extends downward from the middle of the colonnaded main street. Writing around the city indicates the lands of the Tribes of Israel ("Benjamin," for example, written left above the Damascus Gate) and other places of Biblical significance.

The town of Madaba lies about 20km south of Amman. It contains, besides the Church of the Map, an archaeological park and many other ancient churches.