Only open to the public since excavations were completed in 2009, the UNSECO world heritage site of Umm Al Rassas was originally a Roman military encampment, until it became a fully functioning city after the 5th c. AD.
The site is now home to the church of St. Stephen’s – famous for its beautiful mosaics filled with historical relevance. The church was erected in the 6th or 7th century when Umayyad rule of the region had overtaken the Roman Byzantine presence. The exquisitely preserved mosaics depict the major cities in the region and the Holy Land; however it is the symbolism of the mosaics that make them so significant as they are evidence of interfaith coexistence – a rare phenomenon in an area that had been under constant threat from dynasties of opposing religions.
The site is 30 km southeast of the Mosaic city of Madaba, just off the King’s highway making it a very easy area to reach. There is also a series of Roman water cisterns and a fort nearby which is worth visiting.