Mount Nebo is one of the most important Christian holy sites in Jordan. This is where – according to the final chapter of Deuteronomy – the Hebrew Prophet Moses viewed the Promised Land for the first time. If you stand on the viewing platform erected for Pope John Paul II you can enjoy the panoramic scene that Moses saw more than 3000 years ago.
Mount Nebo’s first church was constructed in the 2nd half of the 4th century to commemorate the place of Moses’ death. It had three apses and was preceded by a vestibule paved with plain white mosaic; two funeral chapels stood to the north and south of the lateral apses.
The Serpentine Cross sculpture (the Brazen Serpent Monument) atop Mount Nebo was created by the Italian artist, Giovanni Fantoni. It is symbolic of the bronze serpent created by Moses in the wilderness (Numbers 21:4-9) and the cross upon which Jesus was crucified (John 3:14).
Six tombs have been found hollowed from the natural rock beneath the mosaic-covered floor of the church. In the present presbytery you can see remnants of mosaic floors from different periods. The earliest of these is a panel with a braided cross presently placed on the east end of the south wall.
On March 19, 2000, Pope John Paul II visited the site during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land (Mount Nebo being one of the most important Christian sites in Jordan). During his visit he planted an olive tree beside the Byzantine chapel as a symbol of peace.