"Mukawir, Jordan" Historical Defence Heritage

27-01-2024 03:24 PM
Eman Safouri

Mukawir Castle in Madaba is located in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on Mount Bani Hamida and rises 730 metres above sea level. The castle was built in the first century BC, according to the Old Testament, by the Greek commander Alexander Jannaeus for defensive military purposes, and then its sovereignty was transferred to the Romans. It is believed to be the site where the Prophet Yahya, also known as John the Baptist, was imprisoned and martyred by the Roman ruler Herod.

The citadel overlooks the Dead Sea and other sites in the West Bank and provides a wonderful view of the mountains extending towards Jerusalem. Its remains, including walls, towers, and large columns, are living proof of its greatness. The remains of the castle and the Christian presence in the region indicate the continued Christian presence until the Umayyad and Abbasid eras.

Mukawir is one of the five sites on the Christian pilgrimage trail approved by the Vatican for the year 2000, along with the baptism site, Mount Nebo, the Church of Our Lady of the Mountain, and Mar Elias Hill.

The archaeological site of Mukawir, also known as 'Machaerus', can be divided into two parts: the castle ruins located on the isolated Qal'at al-Mishnaqa spur and the associated low-lying city built on the steep northern slope.

Mukawir, which means sword in Greek, played an important role in the political and military history of the region. The city's privileged location allowed the castle to serve as a crucial military stronghold. Massive walls and watchtowers protected the area from external threats, making it an essential bastion of defence. Historians have documented its connection with various contemporary leaders that succeeded it, highlighting its importance as a centre for political decision-making. Makawir Castle is considered one of the most ancient monuments in Jordan until this era, in addition to being one of the most beautiful tourist places in Madaba. It is also classified as the largest mosaic piece in Jordan.

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