Baptism Site - Bethany beyond the Jordan

On the east bank of the Jordan River not far away from Amman you find Bethany beyond the Jordan, the place where John the Baptist lived and baptized Jesus. Many Christians pilgrimage to this holy place, which is located in a nice surrounding. Besides the Baptism Site of Jesus you see a golden-roofed church, the remains of Byzantine churches and baptism pools.

Bethany beyond Jordan, also called Al Maghtas, at the Jordan River is fed by five springs. Tradition holds that these springs provided the water that was used by John the Baptist for baptizing. Although the identification is not absolutely certain, archaeology has shown that the area known as Wadi Kharrar has long been believed to be the biblical Bethany beyond the Jordan, where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. The excavations in the 90s uncovered more than 20 churches, caves of monks and baptismal pools dating from the Roman and Byzantine periods. In March 2000, Pope John Paul II held an outdoor Mass at the site attended by 25,000 worshippers in attendance. Pope Benedict XVI visited Bethany in May 2009.

The area is also associated with the ascension of the Prophet Elijah into heaven, which is commemorated at a hill called Tell Mar Elias. Scripture only says that Elijah was taken to heaven on the other side of the Jordan. The 6th-century pilgrim Theodosius refers to this hill, called at the time "Hermon".

Visitors go by minibus to Tell Mar Elias, the Baptism Pools and John the Baptist's Church. It is also possible to walk to the sites, but not recommended in summer due to the temperatures from sometimes more than 40C. Pilgrims to the site can request a religious ceremony at a baptism pool. It is possible to do this with an own priest or minister or ask in advance for a local Greek Orthodox priest.



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