Bethany on Jordan

posted Dec 26, 2010, 11:14 AM by Darren Cannell   [ updated Dec 26, 2010, 11:26 AM ]
We got up the day after Christmas and drove to Bethany on Jordan which is the actual site of Jesus’ Baptism.  It was only a very short drive from our hotel.  Your ticket in is dependent on your nationality, (they charge differently if they like your country).  We paid 7 JOD each.  They shuttled us down to the Jordan River and the river has changed tremendously in the last 2000 years.  An earthquake changed the route of the water and the flow is down by about 90% so the river is a little underwhelming.  The site is more of an archaeological site than a site of reverence.  I am not sure if that is because Muslims set it up or not???  Three Christian churches were built one by one on top of each other over the area of the baptism and an earthquake destroyed those as well but there are some uncovered ruins to see of these.  The tour was interesting but a bit too long.  One thing that was really interesting was that we got to see the Left Bank and the East Bank which is where the Jordan River comes in between Israel and Jordan.  Both sides are heavily manned by soldiers and guns and there are churches set up everywhere as shrines and pilgrimage sites so it is a huge juxtaposition.

We then drove to Mount Nebo which is high up in the mountains.  There is a great view of the valley and apparently Moses’ body is laid to rest there.  There is a museum and great mosaic floors to see which are from an uncovered church that was built on the site1700 years ago as a tribute to Moses.

We also drove to Mukawir Castle.  Mukawer has 5 different spellings on 5 different signs that we could see, we thought that was funny.  It is quite a strenuous walk up to see the ruins but it was interesting to see all of the cave dwellings surrounding the ruins and the goat and sheep herds and herders and sheep dogs tending their flocks.  The castle has a very interesting past that dates back to the 1st century.  We drove back down the mountain in the dark on the most harebrained road you could imagine so that would have been fun in the light but in the dark it was easy to imagine slipping off the darkened cliffs, so not so much.