Baptism Site of Jesus Christ
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Baptism Site of Jesus ChristFor Christians, the Baptism Site of Jesus Christ at Bethany Beyond the Jordan is one of the most significant places in the world. Located amid a prepossessing sweep of scrubby plains, next to the sensitive border between Israel and the Palestinian Territories, this is the spot where John the Baptist baptized Jesus, turning the Jordan River into holy water and reviving the souls of all believers. It’s been a pilgrimage site since the Byzantines built a church here in the 5th century.
The ruins are spread across a wide area, so tickets include a compulsory guided tour as well as a shuttle bus that ferries visitors from one attraction to the next. Expect to see the scattered remnants of churches, monasteries, and chapels, as well as the excavated baptismal site and several modern churches belonging to different Christian traditions. The highlight of the tour is visiting the banks of the Jordan River, though these days it’s more of a stream than the free-flowing water of biblical accounts. You can actually get in the water or simply fill bottles from the font, but drinking is not advised due to pollution. On the opposite bank, you’ll see pilgrims doing the same at the Israeli-run version of the site in the Palestinian Territories.