The Museum of the Good Samaritan, one of the world’s largest archaeological mosaic museums, features an open-air display of mosaics and archaeological findings from both Jewish and Samaritan synagogues and Christian churches, including cisterns and remnants from the reconstructed Good Samaritan Byzantine Church. Some of the mosaics date back to the 4th century AD. Many have been removed from archaeological sites, while others have been partly or wholly reconstructed. The designs include rich geometric patterns, birds and flowers. Some have Greek, Hebrew or Samaritan inscriptions.
The remains of the monastery church were reconstructed as a space for worship, with an altar but no cross or other visible Christian symbol.
The museum, located on the main highway between Jerusalem and Jericho, was opened to the public in 2009. It focuses on Mosaic floors collected from ruins across the West Bank and Gaza. This is a great place to stop on the way from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea and the Jordan Valley.
The museum has both an outdoor and indoor sections:
- The outdoor collection is arranged in the courtyard of the Byzantine church and the open area around it.
- The indoor museum is located on the reconstructed inn on the south side of the complex, which is dated to the Ottoman period.
Inn of the Good Samaritan
The Inn of the Good Samaritan was erected in the 6th Century, as part of a Byzantine monastery and the Byzantine Good Samaritan church. Christians tradition identified the Inn of the Good Samaritan with the New Testament parable. On the site, there are remains from the Roman period to the Ottoman period. The inn continued to be used after the Arab conquest.
The Crusaders made the site an important station along the road to the Jordan valley. During the Crusader period, tens of thousands of pilgrims used this route yearly to reach Jericho and the baptismal sites on the Jordan river. A fortress was erected by the order of the Knights Templar in 1169-1172 on the north hill in order to protect the road and defend Jerusalem from the east. The fortress was in use until 1187 and its ruins are seen above the site. The fortress was called “Castellum Rouge” (red castle) or “Tour Rouge” (red tower). An inn (34 x 36m) was established above the remains of the Byzantine inn. The Crusader khan continued to function during the next three centuries and was used as a station for the Muslim pilgrims to Nebi Musa.
In the 1830’s, the Ottomans erected a rectangular caravanserai (hostel) over the ruins of the southern wall of the Crusader fortress. It is composed of 6 rooms, with an entrance on the south. The inn was damaged in WWI, then restored by the British and later by the Jordanians. The inn is now in use as a museum.
The inn is located on the south side of the modern highway Route 1 from Jericho to Jerusalem which follows the ancient route. The Biblical name of the ancient road, Ma’ale Adummim (“Red Ascent” -Tal’at ed Damm), is named after the color of the rocks along the road. This road is the border between two tribes – Judah along the route and to the south of it, and Benjamin north of the route.
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
According to the tradition, the inn was the location of the event of the Good Samaritan. This story was told by Jesus to demonstrate the importance of compassion.
Originally posted at Israel and You.