The baptism site of Christ is one of the holiest places for every Christian. Therefore, visiting it is an almost unavoidable experience for pilgrims and, in general, for any traveler interested in religion. If that’s your case, you can continue reading this post, where we tell you where Jesus was baptized, as well as other interesting facts related to this site.
Bethany Beyond the Jordan, the place where Jesus was baptized
The place where Jesus was baptized is known by several names. In Spanish, Bethany Beyond the Jordan. In Arabic, the term Qasr el Yahud is used, meaning ‘Castle of the Jews’, or Al-Maghtas, meaning ‘baptism’ or ‘immersion’. All these names refer to the same place: a location about 50 km west of Amman, on the Jordan River, which serves as a border between Jordan and Israel. For this reason, it is accessible from both the Jordanian side and the Israeli side.
However, only its eastern sector, that is, the Jordanian side, was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2015 and covers a wide natural area where, in addition, there are important archaeological sites, religious constructions, and spaces to interpret the site and provide services to visitors, such as a souvenir shop.
For example, there is a Lutheran church, a Russian Orthodox church, and a Russian religious residence. But above all, there is the so-called Hill of Elijah, where it is believed this prophet ascended to heaven, and the spring and cave of John the Baptist, which were used by him for his baptismal rites, although it is believed that the place where Jesus was baptized was specifically the large pool where the steps and other subsequent porch-like constructions are located.
Let’s remember that Saint John the Baptist was an itinerant Jewish preacher and used baptism as a key sacrament in his messianic movement. When it came to Jesus, who had come from Nazareth, he interpreted him as the Son of God. And, according to the account of Saint Mark, he heard a voice from heaven saying: “You are my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased”.
For all these reasons, it has been and is a place frequently visited not only by tourists and pilgrims but also by important authorities of the Christian religion. For example, Pope John Paul II in the year 2000, after a thorough cleaning to ensure safety (the Six-Day War of 1967 had turned it into a minefield) or Pope Francis in 2014. Other important personalities from the Baptist, Orthodox, and Anglican churches, as well as members of world royalty or heads of state, have also visited the place.
Do Not Confuse with Yardenit
Now that you know where Jesus was baptized, it’s important not to confuse it with another place that is relatively close and very popular for Christian baptisms: Yardenit, on the southern shore of the Sea of Galilee, in territory fully controlled by Israel.
Due to the insecurity arising from the Six-Day War, the state of Israel prohibited Christian pilgrims from conducting their baptismal baths on its shore of Bethany Beyond the Jordan.
For that reason, the Israeli Ministry of Tourism decided to enable another more suitable place for this purpose, the aforementioned Yardenit on the Sea of Galilee, which is also closely related to the life of Jesus and several of his miracles, such as his walking on water, the ‘miraculous catch’ and the recruitment of fishermen for his cause, including Saint Peter, James the Greater, or John the Apostle. And here, bathing is allowed, making it a location frequently visited by Christian pilgrims.