Explore the relatively unknown ruins of the Mukawir Fortress (Machaerus or Qal’at El-Mishnaqa) with stunning panoramic views of the Dead Sea.

The site is famous for Salome's Dance and John the Baptist's imprisonment and execution (beheading).

Mukawir Mini Circuit - Spectacular Views Over the Dead Sea - Hiking in Jordan.

Mukawir was part of a group of fortified hillsides (including Masada) rebuilt by King Herod (Herod the Great). It was located at the southern border of Peraea near the territory of the King of Nabataea.

It was rediscovered by the German explorer Ulrich Jasper Seetzen in 1807 and has been excavated by a number of archaeologists including Dr. Gyozo Vörös, an internationally renowned Hungarian archaeologist who conducted a sixty-one-day-long archaeological investigation on the site in 2010 to conclude that:

The architectural heritage of the Machaerus fortress’ archaeological monument represents three superimposed structures of the Hasmonean, the Herodian and the Early Roman eras. According to Flavius Josephus, the naturally defended fortress was erected by the Hasmonean Alexander Janneus and destroyed by Gabinius in 57 B.C.

Vörös, Gyozo (2012b).

The archaeological site is being developed by the Jordanian Tourism Board and the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, and nowadays can be reached easily on a path leading to the top of the hillside. Mukawir does not receive as much traffic as other historical sites in Jordan, but provides equally stunning or even better views of the Dead Sea than Mount Nebo and is less crowded.

Soundtrack: Back to Origins - Album: Back to Origins By Sébastien Jouanique

Licensed Under: CC BY-SA 3.0

You can watch more hiking videos on our Youtube channel.


  • Vörös, Gyozo. “Machaerus: Where Salome Danced and John the Baptist Was Beheaded.” Biblical Archaeology Review, Sep/Oct 2012a, 30–41, 68.
  • Vörös, Gyozo. Machaerus: The Herodian Fortified Palace Overlooking the Dead Sea in Transjordan, 2012b.
  • http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-sites-places/biblical-archaeology-sites/machaerus-beyond-the-beheading-of-john-the-baptist
  • http://www.visitjordan.com/default.aspx?tabid=74
  • http://www.kinghussein.gov.jo/tourism6b.html
  • http://www.romanaqueducts.info/aquasite/machaerus
  • G. Garbrecht and Y. Peleg: The Water Supply of the Desert Fortresses in the Jordan Valley (in: The Biblical Archaeologist vol 57-3 (1994) pag 161 ff).
  • www.britishmuseum.org