Mount Nebo is the mountain considered to be where Moses saw the Promised Landed before he died, according to the Old Testament. At around 1,000 meters tall, Mt. Nebo sits 10 km northwest from Madaba. The site is frequently visited by travelers of religious faith who, just like Moses, want to have a breathtaking view over Israel. Most people choose to visit Mount Nebo with a tour. On a clear day, visitors may be able to spot Jericho and even Jerusalem.
Mount Nebo became a place of pilgrimage for early Christians from Jerusalem and a small church was built there in the 4th century to commemorate the end of Moses’ life. Some of the stones from that church remain in their original place in the wall around the apse area. The church was subsequently expanded in the 5th and 6th centuries into the present-day large basilica with its stunning collection of Byzantine mosaics.
The Serpentine Cross, which stands just outside the sanctuary, is symbolic of the bronze (or brazen) serpent taken by Moses into the desert and the cross upon which Jesus was crucified. In addition to Bethany Beyond the Jordan and Mount Nebo, there are three other holy sites in Jordan that were designated by the Vatican as Millennium 2000 pilgrimage sites.
The mountain became a popular resort in 1889 when the Summit Park Hotel was established on the mountaintop. It was a popular destination for the upper class nationwide, many traveling by steamboat on the Arkansas River to visit the mountain. At one point, the mountain was home to two hotels and up to 5,000 people who lived on the mountaintop as summer residents. Today, approximately fifty private residences are used full time or seasonally on top of the mountain, and many of the owners are descendants of families who lived on Mount Nebo from the late 1800s.
In 1918, Mount Nebo’s widely known reputation as a popular summer destination abruptly ended when the Summit Park Hotel caught fire and burned to the ground. Costs incurred by recent remodeling had left the hotel with no money for insurance. It was never rebuilt.
After the destruction of the hotel, the town of Mount Nebo remained. City amenities included gazebos, boardwalks, a post office, a doctor’s office, a bowling alley, and a local telephone exchange. Residences were owned mostly by local families of Dardanelle. Some were used year-round, but as time went by, the popularity of the mountain decreased.
Visiting Mount Nebo
Mount Nebo still offers an amazing panoramic view over areas of the Dead Sea, the West Bank, the Jordan River, and even Jerusalem. Visitors to Mount Nebo will see preserved mosaics uncovered from archaeological digs dating back to the 6th century. The main mosaic illustrates the process of winemaking, as well as images of hunters and animals. Outside, there is a sculpture of the Serpentine Cross, a symbolic combination of the bronze serpent created by Moses and Jesus’ cross.
Summer: 8am to 6pm
Winter: 8am to 4pm