Bethany is sited in a marshy area
on the east bank of the River Jordan, 8km north of the Dead Sea is said
to be where John the Baptist baptised Jesus Christ. As a non-Christian
I did not find Bethany at all spiritual,
but there was interesting flora,
fauna and geology. Security is high as the border is very near.
The six square kilometre Baptism Site is surrounded by a high wire fence
and watch towers are visible.
The first place we visited at Bethany was John the Baptist's Spring, mentioned by
pilgrims as having "sweet, clear-flowing water", but it was
dry when we were there.
The next port of call was some hermit's caves, and notably the cave where
John the Baptist is supposed to have inhabited. It is high up, so would
have been dry and safe from animals, but four-star it isn't.
Animal footprints in the mud
John the Baptist's cave is . . .
. . . rather basic
A short walk took us to the site of the actual baptism of Jesus. I am
not sure what I expected, but it was an anticlimax. A dusty hole in the
ground. There is not even any water in it, the river having long ago changed
course. Afterwards we went into a lovely modern Orthodox church with a
golden dome on the top.
The baptism site itself is still being excavated
The golden dome of this church glows in the sunlight
So where do people get baptised at Bethany now? We were taken to a site beside the
river which has a font with river water in it, and a small platform for
those who prefer to dip in the Jordan itself. As you can see from the
pictures the River Jordan is no longer "deep and wide".
Entrance to the modern baptism site
Take a dip here
The River Jordan's narrow and muddy
Finally, we saw various ruins and the spot where the Pope John-Paul II
visited Bethany in 2000, but by this time my eyes were glazing over. In short,
this site is interesting, but unless you are religious it may not be worth