On his birthday Herod gave a banquet for his high officials and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. When the daughter of Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests. The king said to the girl, ‘Ask me for anything you want, and I’ll give it to you.’”
— Mark 6:21-22
Within an hour’s drive from Madaba along the picturesque Kings’ Highway is Mukawir, the hilltop fortress of Herod the Great. Upon his death, his son Herod Antipas inherited the stronghold and it was here that he imprisoned John the Baptist and ordered his beheading after Salome’s fateful dance. Pilgrims may ascend the winding path to stand upon the barren hilltop and reflect upon the dramatic events that took place at this forbidding fortress while taking in the sweeping view of the Dead Sea and surrounding area. John the Baptist, who started and ended his mission in Jordan, is the patron saint of Jordan for Roman Catholics.