Jordan’s undiscovered gems is Herod the Great’s ancient fortress of Machaerus, located by the village of Mukawir. There, it is said, the be

Beautiful Salomé danced for Herod Antipas, who presented her with the head of the Prophet Yahya or John the Baptist to honor her wishes.

According to Matthew 14: 9-12, "The king was sad, but because of the promise he had made in front of all his guests, he gave orders that her wish be granted. So he had John beheaded in prison. The head was brought in on a plate to the girl, who took it to her mother." The fort was perched on a 700-meter-high hill which was 

first fortified about 100 BCE, and expanded by Herod the Great seventy years later.

The greatest attraction of Machaerus, however, is the stunning panoramic view it presents of the surrounding countryside, the Dead Sea, and the West Bank. On a clear night you can easily make out the lights of al-Quds (Jerusalem) and Ariha (Jericho). Far removed from the tourist circuit, the quiet of this area transports you back into Biblical times. Indeed, shepherds and their flocks still find shelter in the myriad caves and grottoes around Machaerus. Hike down towards the Dead Sea from Machaerus and you will truly feel that you are on top of the world.

Mkawer is about 40 kilometers southwest of Madaba. To get there, go from Madaba south to Libb, then take a right and continue on the road until it ends in front of Machaerus. Food is available in Mkawer at Herod’s Rest House.