HOW TO VISIT BETHANY BEYOND THE JORDAN
Bethany Beyond the Jordan, the baptismal site of Jesus, is about 40-minute drive from Jordan's capital Amman. There are many companies where you can hire a car with a driver. Read more in our post JORDAN TRAVEL TIPS FOR FIRST TIME VISITORS. The baptismal site is located close to the Dead Sea, Madaba and Mount Nebo, and makes a great day trip from Amman. To learn more about the day trip, check out our post DAY TRIP FROM AMMAN: MOUNT NEBO, MADABA, BETHANY & THE DEAD SEA.
BETHANY BEYOND THE JORDAN OPENING TIMES
The Baptismal Site is open daily from 8.30AM to 5PM in the winter and from 8.30AM to 7PM in the summer. The entrance fee to Bethany Beyond the Jordan is 12 JD ($17) and it includes transportation by shuttle bus and a local guide.
Besides selling tickets, there is a small booth selling water and snacks at the Visitor's Center. The only bathrooms in this site are also located at the entrance.
ONLY GUIDED TOURS ALLOWED
Since the Baptismal Site is located at a heavily guarded border between the West Bank and Jordan, the site allows only guided tours. After you have gotten your tickets at the Visitor's Center, wait for a shuttle bus that takes visitors closer to the main site. The bus, a little shabby and dirty, leaves roughly every 30 minutes starting at 8.30AM.
ONE-KILOMETER WALK TO THE SITE
After the bus drops the visitors off near the main site, a guide escorts the group through the one-kilometer-long path to the Jordan River, with stops at the various sites.
IT IS HOT
Since Bethany Beyond the Jordan is located close to the Dead Sea, which is the lowest point on earth at over 350 meters below sea level, it is brutally hot. The temperature is over 40C most of the year, and only part of the walking path is covered.
After a few viewing points, visitors arrive at the Baptismal Pool, no longer on the Jordan River as the river path has moved over the course of time.
This location was suggested by the famous sixth-century mosaic map from St. George’s Church in Madaba. The map shows over 150 holy sites, including “Bethabara, the site where John baptized.” Excavations only began here in 1996, following Jordan’s peace treaty with Israel in 1994.
From 1967 until 1994 the place was a military zone and heavily mined. The site was opened only twice a year for pilgrims, until in 2011 it was opened to the public.
The modern Greek Orthodox Church dedicated to St. John the Baptist was built next to the Jordan River on top of an ancient chapel that was preserved as a crypt.
The Jordan River, which is only a trickle of its former self, flows between the West Bank and Jordan. The green muddy water is filled with people praying and singing on both sides of the river. Some conduct private worship ceremonies on the West Bank side, dressed in white robes.