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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

September 13th | Day 5 in Jordan

View from the Evason Ma'in Hotel

I was sound asleep, only to be woken up by sun beams pouring into my room at the Evason Ma'in Hotel. It was such a nice peaceful stay. The staff were so accommodating and treated us like kings and queens. After waking up, I put on my swimming trunks and headed down to the natural hot spring water fall just down the way with our tour guide and a friend of his. The best hot tube experience ever…the scenery doesn’t get any better! From the hot springs, we headed to the other side of the resort complex to a hot spring swimming pool. It was much cooler than the first hot springs we submerged into, but it was very refreshing as well. After swimming, we went back to the hotel and had a gourmet buffet style breakfast and ate too much food…but absolutely delicious.

Cory posing for the camera overlooking the Dead Sea at Mukawir

The mountain that Herod Antipas' palace was on

A cave on the side of the mountain going up to the palace

The remains of Herod's Palace

 Video showing view of Herod's Palace

Our first stop of the day was at Mukawir. It had so many amazing views of mountains, the Dead Sea, and the palace ruins of Herod Antipas, the Roman appointed ruler over the region during the life of Jesus. John the Baptist was beheaded at this palace and his head was brought on a platter to Herod during a party he had.

As our eyes gazed across the Dead Sea, we were able to look at the mountains of Israel and catch a glimpse of how beautiful the Promise Land and this area were.  Many caves had been dug out on the mountainsides leading up to the top of the mountain where the palace ruins were located. I loved the challenge of this place because we had to hike up the mountain and had a chance to explore many caves on the way up to the summit. We never knew what we would find in them or what was up around the corner. Just when I thought the country side couldn’t get any more beautiful, we would see a view that left us speechless!

Our next stop was over an hour away, but eventually we made it to Umm Ar-Rasas. This ancient ruin was fortified by the Romans and local Christians were still embellishing it with Byzantine-style mosaics. We could tell this was a whole community of homes, many of which were still standing. Just outside the city walls was a recently unearthed Church of Saint Stephen with its well-preserved outstanding mosaic floor, the largest of its kind to be discovered in Jordan and second only to the world-famous mosaic map at Madaba. Umm Ar-Rasas is a UNESCO World Heritage site too and is protected from being tampered by international guidelines.

A small Roman house ruin at Umm Ar-Rasas

More Roman ruins at Umm Ar-Rasas

Mosaic at Church of Staint Stephens at Umm Ar-Rasas

Mosaic at Church of Staint Stephens at Umm Ar-Rasas

We, then made a 2.5 hour drive south to Petra so that we could begin exploring this 7 Ancient Wonders of the World!

Sunset at the City of Petra...amazing!!

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