Yardenit, also known as the Yardenit Baptismal Site, is a baptism site located along the Jordan River in the Galilee region, which is frequented by Christian pilgrims. The site is located south of the river’s outlet from the Sea of Galilee. According to Christian tradition, the baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3:13-17) took place in Qasr el Yahud, north of the Dead Sea and east of Jericho:
9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”Mark 1 (9-11)
And for centuries, Qasr el Yahud was the most important baptism site for pilgrims, and monasteries and guest houses were established near it. In addition, Al-Maghtas in Jordan shows the earliest religious structures connected with baptism or religious baths on the Eastern part of the Jordan, but reverence shifted to the West Bank after the Muslim Conquest. On my Nazareth & Sea of Galilee Tour, I frequently stop at Yardenit to see the Jordan from up close.
Yardenit Baptismal Site is Founded After the Six Day War
After the Six-Day War Qasr el Yahud fell under Israeli control. Due to military activity and excavations, the Israeli Ministry of Tourism established Yardenit in 1981 as an alternative pilgrimage site. Yardenit became the first regulated baptism site on the Israeli side of the river. Qasr el Yahud reopened in 2011. In 2015, Unesco declared Al Maghtas together with Jabal Mar Elias (Elijah’s Hill) on the East bank a world heritage site. The Yardenit Baptismal Site currently averages 400,000 visitors a year and attracts members of all faiths.