The baptismal location of Qasr el-Yehud (Castle of the Jews) is located on the Jordan River. It is located in the Palestinian Authority of the West Bank which is 15 kms away from the north of the Dead Sea and southeast of Jericho. It is understood that Qasr el-Yehud is the Biblical site where Jesus was baptized by John which signified his spiritual birth. This area is also where the Israelites were led by Joshua to help them cross the River Jordan into the Promised Land. It is said that The Prophet Elijah rose to heaven in from this location. Both banks of the Jordan River are in this location, the east bank being the Kingdom of Jordan and the west bank being Qasr el-Yehud.
Visiting Qasr el-Yehud
From 1967 to 1994 visitors could not visit Qasr el-Yehud as it was derelict land. After Jordan and Israel’s peace agreement, the area reopened to the public in 2011 and thereafter became restored. There have been additions to make it visitor-friendly since then such as hand-rails as well as steps to help visitors access the water areas. There have also been several churches that have been built near Qasr el- Yehud throughout the decades. Building commenced during the Byzantine-era however only ruins have survived. Nowadays visiting Christians from all denominations use the two outdoor chapels which have been recently built. On January 6th, special celebrations are held for the Feast of Epiphany by the Western Churches. Also, on January 19th celebrations for the Theophany by Eastern Orthodox Churches take place. There are also celebrations during the Easter weekend.
Two Baptismal Sites of the Jordan River
An alternative baptismal site named Yardenit is located in northern Israel which sits near the south of the Sea of Galilee. Yardenit also lies on the Jordan River and the purpose of its creation was to play the role of being an alternative site for Christian pilgrims who desired to be baptized in Jordan but were unable to reach Qasr el-Yehud as a result of security and logistical obstructions. As described in the Bible, the location of Jesus’ baptismal site was closer to Qasr el-Yehud, however Yardenit served as a sufficient alternative if it is impossible to travel to Qasr el-Yahud.