According to the Gospel of John, John the Baptist was preaching and baptizing in “Bethany, beyond the Jordan” (John 1:28). The site of Bethany (“Bethabara” in some ancient manuscripts) has been identified on the eastern side of the Jordan River opposite Jericho and extending 3 km (2 miles) east, up a dry riverbed called Wadi el-Kharrar.
The site was first documented in the 1890’s, but it took nearly a hundred years, and the peace treaty with Israel, before the Jordanian Antiquities Department began excavations at the site. The excavations exposed several ancient buildings and pools that were used for Baptismal ceremonies in ancient times. At some places small caves were also documented. They were used by Hermit Monks in the Byzantine Period. Down near the Jordan River, archaeologists found the ruins of a Byzantine period monastery with a church. Local tradition holds that this is where Jesus left his clothes during his baptism.
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan developed the site both for visits and for Christian veneration. Churches of Several Christian orders were built around the archaeological site, although some have been completed to this day. The site was also honored to be visited by the Pope John Paul II in the year 2000 CE.
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Points of Interest in the Area
|Eight Days Tour of Jordan|