From the earliest days of Christianity, pilgrims to the Holy Land have visited the site where according to the New Testament Jesus was baptized. For centuries, Pilgrims have yearned to immerse themselves in the same water to commemorate this event.
To improve the spiritual experience and physical comfort of pilgrims, the baptism site on the Jordan River, known as Qasr el Yahud, is now open to the public, free of charge, seven days a week.
The Ministry of Tourism is just one of the organizations that together have invested close to $2.3 million in renovating and upgrading the site. This includes the construction of wooden ramps into the Jordan River to allow pilgrims easy and comfortable access to the waters for baptism, erecting shaded areas for prayer sessions, and upgraded restroom, shower and parking facilities. The site is now also fully wheelchair accessible.
The site, which is managed by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, is open to the public free of charge every day, including Saturdays, from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. On Fridays and on the eves of holidays: 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. (winter time) and 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. (daylight saving time, summer time).
As a reflection of the importance of the site, which is located on the road to Jericho from Jerusalem, numerous churches were built here over the centuries.
The site is also significant in the Jewish tradition, as it is believed to be the place where the Children of Israel crossed the Jordan when they entered Canaan.
Photos: Yael Zilbershen