For nearly two thousand years Mount Nebo has been one of the most important religious pilgrimage sites in the world – and for those of you who don’t know, Mount Nebo is mentioned in the Bible as the place where Moses was first shown “The Promised Land”!
Whilst the area is held in high regard by Christians, it is also an important and much admired destination for people of all faiths. And those views from the top of Mount Nebo are well worth the visit, trust us on that one!
Where the heck is Mount Nebo?
History of Mount Nebo
During the 4th century AD a church was constructed on Mount Nebo, and said to honor Moses, although the church was most likely built on the site of a much older building of worship.
Over the next two hundred years the church was extended and improved to cater for the larger influx of pilgrims as the word of Christianity spread across the world. Finally, the church became part of a monastery and was increased in size to become a basilica and became the focus point of pilgrimage for over six hundred years.
After the area was abandoned in the latter half of the 16th century, the buildings were neglected and fell into a state of disrepair until the entire area was purchased in 1993 by the Franciscans, a Catholic religious order founded by Francis of Assisi in the 13th century. After a period of restoration and excavation, Mount Nebo is once again an active monastery, encompassing the Franciscan Archaeological Institute.
In the year 2000, Pope John Paul II visited Mount Nebo whilst on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Today, visitors to the site can see the olive tree that was planted by the Pope; you’ll find it located close to the Byzantine Chapel for Peace.
Getting to Mount Nebo
If you’re coming to Jordan as part of a tour, you’ll more than likely make a stopover at Mount Nebo. If Mount Nebo is firmly on that bucket list of yours, check with the tour you book, just to make sure.
Should you be planning your own itinerary, bear in mind that public transport is scarce and not completely reliable. Your best bet to travel to Mount Nebo is via taxi; sharing a taxi with others going to the area is not uncommon, and is fairly cheap, with shared prices ranging from 1 JOD (£1/$1.40) (Jordanian dollar) for a shared taxi, to around 10 JOD (£10/$14) for a private round trip taxi service.
Visiting the Mount Nebo Monastery
One of the most awe inspiring moments you are likely to have is the realization that the incredible views you’ll see were the same views Moses experienced two thousand years ago.At over 700 meters above the valley below, Mount Nebo offers visitors some truly stunning views across the Promised Land.
Don’t miss the summit and the renowned Brazen Serpent Monument, a bronze serpentine cross created by Italian artist Giovanni Fantoni.
Also don’t miss the excavation works over the years, and the restoration work carried out by the Franciscans – the archaeological remains of the 4th century site can still be seen. Elements of the Byzantine Basilica have been incorporated into the modern church building known as the memorial Church of Moses.
Further exploration of the site will reveal the 1400 year old mosaic flooring, thought lost for centuries, including animal mosaics from the 6th century that supposedly feature one of the oldest examples of Arabic script in the whole of Jordan. One of the oldest features of the site is a beautiful 4th century mosaic cross that currently sits on the altar of the modern church.
All visitors to the Mount Nebo monastery should be aware that it is an active monastery.
The opening hours for the Mount Nebo site are between 5 am and 7 pm daily between the months of April and October, and 7 am to 7 pm from November through to March.
Here are some excellent Mount Nebo (and the surrounding area) tour options we can recommend…
Where to Stay near Mount Nebo
If you’re on an organized tour, you’ll probably be sleeping over at the Dead Sea or Madaba, though you can always stay in the capital city of Amman if you’re traveling independently.
And just in case you needed some more stunning views…