Al-Maghtas in Jordan: Must-Know Information and Guide
Al-Maghtas is one of the archaeological World Heritage site, situated on the eastern bank of the River Jordan, nine kilometers north of the Dead Sea, the archeological site comprises two different and unique areas: Tell Al-Kharrar, otherwise called Jabal Mar-Elias (Elijah’s Hill) and the location of the holy places of Saint John the Baptist that is near to the river.
“Tell al Kharrar, or Elijah’s Hill,” is where Jews, Christians, and Muslims were able to find a common ground, where it is believed that Prophet Elijah is said to have ascended to heaven.
It is also known as the “place of baptism,” a historical Christian place of pilgrimage, where Jesus of Nazareth is believed to have been baptized by John the Baptist. It as well denotes the establishment of one of the world’s largest religions and envelopes a few different sites huge to each of the three Abrahamic religions.
Roman and Byzantine remains are featured as well, which includes a monastery, churches and chapels, caves that have been utilized by hermits, and pools in which baptism was said to be celebrated, which is the one that testified the religious character of the historical place.
Additionally, the humble site denotes a milestone second in the birth of Christianity. It has been a belief as a place where Jesus had started his ministry and gathered his disciples according to religious scholars.
Throughout the long years, monks, medieval saints, and scribes kept on insisting this as the site of the baptism. In 2015, upheld by the broad work of contemporary archeologists, church pioneers, and scholars, Al-Maghtas (“the place of baptism”) was finally inscribed by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.
Moreover, it is being said that it was only rediscovered after the Israel-Jordan peace treaty when mine-clearing tasks uncovered the ancient. Recorded back in the first century A.D., the sandstone walls still bear simple crosses scratched by early pilgrims who halted on their route from Jerusalem to Mount Nebo. For such important religious sites, many of the Christian Churches want to have their presence in the place of worship.
The more extensive collection of old and new holy places at Al-Maghtas remains a testament to the worldwide spread of Christianity and the soul of tolerance under Jordan’s Islamic rule. A few churches stay open for worship, while a few more are mere ruins that date back to the period of Byzantine, with splendid mosaic floors.
The nearby caves were once inhabited by the hermit monks, but it is now opening and accessible for all the visitors who want to know its beauty. The universal holy site speaks to the general mission of this place, to be specific, it is to promote peace, understanding, and religious tolerance between all people groups.
To visit Al-Maghtas means to continue in the footsteps of ancient prophets, holy men, and pilgrims, and to observe the earliest beginnings of such great things in the modern world.
If you’re planning to visit a heritage site, this is an ideal place to go with as it will take you only a 45-minute drive on the Dead Sea Highway from Amman. Then, you need to turn right (north) at Sweimeh and follow the signs. It will only take 15 to 20 minutes to drive from the Dead Sea resorts, toward the Allenby Bridge.
How to Visit Al-Maghtas
This baptism site is significantly much more than the flowing spring, so don, ‘t anticipate a quick drive-by visit. One can without much of a stretch go through the entire day visiting all the different destinations, churches, and shrines in the area.
For a more prominent context, stop by the guest’s center and get a visit together with a local guide to show you the way around 2,000 years of history. Keep in mind that is still a somewhat sensitive border area among the east and west banks of Jordan. That’s why just expect that you will go through several routine checkpoints to access the site.
When to Visit Al-Maghtas
This historical site is open all year (8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. in summer, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in winter), which makes it is easy to visit, but, it is good to keep in mind that the Jordan River can flood a lot during cold weather months (December and January). The last entrance is one hour beforehand and it’s closing.
The property area of Al-Maghtas corresponds to the area that is administered by the Baptism Site Commission. It is kept up like a wilderness area and is located inside all the known archeological remains which are said to be attributes of Outstanding Universal Value. All the elements that are needed to read and comprehend the significance conveyed by the property are as yet present and are enveloped by the area.
The size of the property is one of the significant factors which make the entire valley to be seen and to be appreciated by the visitors, and in many ways incorporates the wider setting of the Jordan Valley.
Because of the heritage legislation, the property is very much protected. Plus, there’s also a construction moratorium that has been issued to prevent any new constructions within the property, which enables the believers to continuously preserve the historical area.
Also, the archeological areas have been protected in their unique and original materials, however, numerous spots have been restored adding comparable materials from the area to take into much simpler understanding or utilization of the structures.
In several cases, the archaeological parts have been reassembled, and on occasion, restoration work undertaken could be viewed as reducing the authenticity in every material, as well as workmanship. However, this reduction of material authenticity doesn’t influence the credibility or significance attributed to the site as said by the Christian devotees.
According to the Antiquities Law 21/1988, art. 3, par 8, the property is designated and being recognized as an antique site. This law prohibits the devastation, alteration, or damage to the antiquity itself and regulates improvement works around it, in order to maintain and avoid any major impact on the antiquity of the site as well as on its contextual perception.
Similarly, it is being secured and protected by the Jordan Valley Authority Laws. When it comes to the site level, it is also protected by the By-Laws of the Baptism Site Commission.
The main objective of these laws is to protect the property from any potential threat in the future, to put much focus mainly on improvement, and tourism extensions that may bring danger to the nature and the character of the site and its immediate environmental factors.
The worship of the place, the presence of a few church communities, and the proceeding pilgrimage— these all add a level to the traditional protection. It is not in light of a legitimate concern for the Christian people group that the property changes its character and in like manner visitation is arranged as for the site’s importance.
The protection measures of both the national level and specifically, the Baptism Site Commission are very much effective and will if reliably being implemented, it can prevent any negative impacts on the property.
The World Heritage Committee further supported all concerned State Parties to guarantee the protection of the western banks of the Jordan River to protect and preserve significant vistas and sightlines of the property.