Facts and Data

Official Unesco Page

Basis Data:
Unesco World heritage since: 2004
Size of heritage: 24 ha
- Buffer zone: 90 ha

Longitude: 35,921°
Latitude: 31,502°


Most of this archaeological site, which started as a Roman military camp and grew to become a town from the 5th century, has not been excavated. It contains remains from the Roman, Byzantine and Early Muslim periods (end of 3rd to 9th centuries AD) and a fortified Roman military camp. The site also has 16 churches, some with well-preserved mosaic floors. Particularly noteworthy is the mosaic floor of the Church of Saint Stephen with its representation of towns in the region. Two square towers are probably the only remains of the practice, well known in this part of the world, of the stylites (ascetic monks who spent time in isolation atop a column or tower). Um er-Rasas is surrounded by, and dotted with, remains of ancient agricultural cultivation in an arid area.

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Um er-Rasas (Kastrom Mefa'a): A UNESCO World Heritage Site in Jordan

Um er-Rasas, also known as Kastrom Mefa'a, is a remarkable archaeological site located in the Madaba Governorate of Jordan. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2004, Um er-Rasas is renowned for its well-preserved remains of ancient civilizations, offering a glimpse into the rich history of the region.


The history of Um er-Rasas dates back to the Roman and Byzantine periods, with evidence of human settlement as early as the 3rd century BC. The site flourished during the Byzantine era, serving as an important military outpost and a significant center for trade and agriculture.

Um er-Rasas played a crucial role in the region's defense, as it was strategically positioned along the ancient trade routes connecting Arabia, Egypt, and Syria. The site's fortifications, including a massive wall and watchtowers, served to protect the city from potential invasions.

During the Byzantine period, Um er-Rasas was a melting pot of cultures, with influences from the Roman, Greek, and Nabatean civilizations. The city boasted numerous churches, some of which were adorned with exquisite mosaic floors. These mosaics, depicting biblical scenes and intricate geometric patterns, are among the most impressive features of the site.

Current State

Today, Um er-Rasas stands as a testament to the ancient civilizations that once thrived in the region. The site covers an area of approximately 100 hectares, with only a fraction of it excavated and accessible to visitors.

One of the most remarkable structures at Um er-Rasas is the Church of St. Stephen, which houses an exceptional mosaic floor. This mosaic, measuring around 30 square meters, depicts various cities of the Holy Land, including Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Jericho. The Church of St. Stephen is a prime example of the architectural and artistic prowess of the Byzantine period.

In addition to the Church of St. Stephen, several other churches have been discovered at Um er-Rasas, each with its unique mosaic floors and architectural features. These churches, along with the fortifications and other structures, provide valuable insights into the religious, social, and economic aspects of life in ancient times.

Despite its historical significance, Um er-Rasas faces various challenges, including natural erosion and the encroachment of modern development. Efforts are being made to preserve and protect the site, with ongoing excavations and restoration projects taking place.

Visitors to Um er-Rasas can explore the site's archaeological remains, marvel at the intricate mosaics, and gain a deeper understanding of the region's past. The site offers a unique opportunity to witness the fusion of different cultures and civilizations that have shaped the history of Jordan and the wider Middle East.

Um er-Rasas (Kastrom Mefa'a) stands as a remarkable UNESCO World Heritage site, preserving the legacy of ancient civilizations and providing a window into the past for generations to come.