The Qasr el Yahud baptism site, one of the most important sites for Christian pilgrims visiting the Holy Land, is a little bit off the beaten track, but oh so worth it!
We originally wrote about the site and its limited opening hours here, but after some extensive renovations and investment in infrastructure, the site – considered the third most important for pilgrims to the Holy Land after the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem – has now been opened to the public full-time.
There’s nothing quite like experiencing the raw emotion and spirituality of a place like this, especially when you watch others, perhaps more observant and believing than yourself, as they submerge themselves in the water…
And why is this place so special? Well, Qasr el Yahud is thought to be the site (according to Matthew, 3: 13-17) where John the Baptist baptized Jesus, and is also thought to be the location where the Israelites crossed into Canaan.
Obviously it doesn’t have the razzmatazz of Jerusalem’s major attractions just next door, but this place is a must-see for anyone interested in exploring their Christian faith.
One thing to watch out for: the cross-shaped baptismal pool. And also watch out for the little crosses that have been carved into the steps leading to the pool by Christian pilgrims over the ages.
The site is managed by the Israel Nature Parks Authority and is FREE to get in. It’s open daily from 09:00 to 17:00, except on Fridays and holiday eves, when it will close at 15:00 (16:00 in the summer months).
Just one word of warning: make sure to drink plenty of water because this place is one of the hottest spots in Israel. There are shady spots which have been newly erected, but at one of the lowest points on earth you’ll still feel the heat, trust us on that one!
How to get to Qasr el Yahud: Qasr el Yahud is just north of the Dead Sea. Take Highway 1 (East) to the Jericho bypass road, then turn north on Highway 90, drive approximately 2.5 km (1.5 miles) until you reach a grove, and then turn east in the direction of a sign that says Qasr al-Yahud.
One point of interest: there is another baptism site at the Sea of Galilee, the Yardenit, but what Qasr el Yahud’s new opening hours will mean for it, we’ll have to wait and see…
*Pic courtesy of mfa.gov.il