A bite of history in Jordan's cave restaurant

World Monday 01/November/2021 09:48 AM
By: xinhua
A bite of history in Jordan's cave restaurant
A man is seen in the cave restaurant Mrah Salameh in Madaba, Jordan.

Amman: "How do you feel while eating and drinking in a cave about 60 million years old?" George Haddadin, a 69-year-old Jordanian, would frequently ask the customers dining at his restaurant.

The restaurant is located in downtown Madaba, some 30 km from the Jordanian capital Amman, which is well known for its Byzantine and Umayyad mosaics. Stepping into it, a downward aisle would lead people to a culinary destination transformed from natural caves formed some 60 million years ago. The caves were first inhabited by human beings during the Stone Age, according to some experts' study.

"It's a museum, like a school of history and civilization, not a restaurant actually," Haddadin told Xinhua in a recent interview at the establishment named "Mrah Salameh."

The site was used as a parking area behind his family's house, said Haddadin, also a geophysicist and former head of the Jordanian Geologists Association. Those hidden caves were found by coincidence, he recalled.

In 2008, some rectangle rocks near a hole on the ground drew his attention, thus commencing his almost seven years' excavating ventures with several ancient engravings discovered.

"There is a similarity between geophysics and the discovering of the history and the civilizations existing here... transferring physical data to a geological model is like conducting the excavation and recognizing the period and how the culture was at that time," he said.

Dedicating all his passion to it, Haddadin also expected more Jordanians and tourists to explore the history and civilizations that have existed at the caves and surrounding area through the ages, so he decided to turn it into a restaurant with dim lighting and a sense of tranquility.

"It's not a good investment of business, but a priceless asset for the history... I consider it my obligation to put the people who visited here into an awareness of the history and previous civilizations," he said.

Inside the restaurant reopened a couple of months ago after a year-long closure amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Haddadin laid see-through glass floors to preserve the cave's natural state while providing visitors a unique dining experience above the Stone Age grounds.

He said visitors often told him that they felt a sense of warmness and safety in the restaurant, which he believes is a similar feeling shared by the ancestors who entered the cave for a shelter.

"The cave guaranteed safety and the fire guaranteed warmness," he said, he is happy to see that the same atmosphere has been maintained throughout the times.