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  • Writer's pictureanusha gopalakrishnan

Jesus's Baptism Site-Bethany Beyond the Jordan

This sacred site is also known as Al -Maghtas which means "baptism" or "immersion" in Arabic. The said site is declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as it holds significant biblical eminence.

It is believed that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist at this exact site. Therefore it represents the beacon of Christianity. Theologians are of the view that this is place where Jesus commenced his Ministry and congregated his followers - Andrew, Phillip, Peter and Nathanial.

This site is situated at the Jordan Valley close to the Dead Sea and is only a 45 minutes drive from Amman and can be covered in 2.5 hours tops. You can easily plan a day trip to this site from Amman, Madaba or the Dead Sea.

There are two notice boards at the Visitor Centre which displays photos of renowned figures that have visited this site.

You can purchase entry tickets at the Visitor Centre located at the entrance. There is ample parking available so if you are driving to the site, you can park at the Visitor Centre.

The entry fee is as follows:

Entrance Fees:

Jordanians: 1 JDs

Nationals of the Arab League Countries: 3 JDs

Other Nationalities: 12 JDs

Free entry for children under 12 years

The entrance fee includes a guided tour and shuttle bus service. Please note that the site can only be accessed with a tour. The Baptism Site is open from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Last entry to the site shall be 5:00pm.

Private Cars are denied entry into the site but there is a shuttle bus service available every 30 minutes from 8:30 am onwards.

The tour started off with a short bus ride from the Visitor Centre and we were welcomed with a view of River Jordan as soon as we disembarked from the bus.

The River Jordan separates Jordan from Israel

The Guide told us that we were lucky because the water level of the river is the highest it's been in the last five years. Usually there is very little water in the river.

We then proceeded to the landmark site, the actual site where Jesus was baptized. I felt a wave of energy roll through me as I witnessed this holy site. This site is actually a sign which indicates that Jesus was once present here. Once it hits you, you will realize how monumental that moment is. It was an incredibly moving and unforgettable experience.

We also encountered remnants of an old church which contains traces of original mosaics. As you journey on, you will see a beautiful Greek Orthodox church. It is really quite something. We took a lot of photos in front of the church for memories.

Mosaic of Pope John Paul II with King Abdullah II and Queen Rania in a Golf Cart at the Baptism Site on the Jordan River, Jordan.

We then made our way to the Jordan River; we passed through a wooden deck to access the river. The guide told us that we could touch the water from the river.

The energy surrounding me was calming yet uplifting as I descended a flight of ancient stairs to touch then Holy water from the blessed River of Jordan. It was such a surreal moment. I made a silent prayer before leaving.

Pilgrims also have the option to be baptized at this site. Arrangements for the said ceremony can be made provided pilgrims are accompanied by a priest.

You will notice a strong military presence here because the River of Jordan flows through Jordan, the Palestinian West Bank, Israel and southwestern Syria. Israel is literally a stone's throw away - so near yet so far.

The final stop is the gift shop cum museum. There are a lot of interesting artifacts and items of religious significance on display here. You can also purchase some souvenirs or trinkets as momentos to take home.

Travel Tips

  • There are no toilets at the archeological zone so use the toilet at the Visitor Centre before starting your journey.

  • Wear comfortable shoes as you will be walking quite a bit.

  • The site is located near the Dead Sea which is the lowest point of earth; it can get really warm during summer. We visited in winter so the weather was perfect.

  • Dress modestly as a sign of respect.

  • Bring some water in case you get thirsty.

I found this to be a very meaningful spiritual experience and I felt a sense of peace throughout the journey. The whole experience was even more special to me because I was able to experience it with the people I love dearly.

It is humbling to be able to visit this site given its immense biblical significance. I highly recommend that you visit this place as you will leave with a memory that will last a lifetime.

Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions - I will be happy to answer them.

Till next time, toodles.

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