The friendly neighbor of Israel and Palestine, Jordan possesses rich Biblical history that often goes unnoticed. Here are four sacred sites you should visit while exploring the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
1. ‘Bethany Beyond the Jordan’
“Bethany Beyond the Jordan” is the official site where Jesus of Nazareth was baptized by John the Baptist. Known as “Al-Maghtas” in Arabic, which means “immersion,” the archaeological treasure is a UN World Heritage site. Nestled on the eastern shore of the Jordan River, not far from the Dead Sea, the site contains Byzantine and Roman remains. The wilderness atmosphere is kept quite simply, maintaining an original and authentic experience. The area contains ancient pools dating back to the 4th century. Many visitors go not just to observe the history of the location, but to also receive a baptism or re-dedication of their own.
2. Mount Nebo
Check out Mount Nebo if you want the ultimate panoramic view of the Holy Land, which includes the Dead Sea, Jericho, Bethlehem and Jerusalem. For Moses, it was simply breathtaking (pun intended). There he observed the promised land from a distance in the valley of Moab, and there remains the site of his memorial, where he is believed to have breathed his last breath. Situated in a mountainous terrain near the city of Madaba, the Franciscans built a chapel over the site, which is currently open to visitors. The surrounding area is full of ancient church history, with excavated Byzantine mosaics boasting vibrant visuals of wildlife and winemaking. The summit viewpoint at the top of the Franciscan sanctuary is an Instagrammer’s dream on a clear, sunny day!
3. The Ancient City of Gadara
Gadara is an ancient city in northern Jordan, formerly a part of the Roman Decapolis. Today known as Umm Qais, it is in this region where Jesus performed the miracle of the Gadarene swine, the casting out of demons from a man, which ended up in a herd of pigs. The landscape includes a mix of Roman and Ottoman ruins with a stunning view of multiple countries all at once, including a crisp perspective of the Sea of Galilee. Greek monuments are also visible in this historic city, a region where international trade took place.
4. The Dead Sea
The Dead Sea is a magnificent stop for anyone traveling through Jordan, as the salt minerals in the water are known to heal the body. But just along the southeast coast of the Dead Sea, things get even saltier. Bad ed Dhra and Numeira are sites attributed to the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Layers of ash were found upon the excavation of the region of Numeira. As written in the old testament, Lot’s wife is believed to have converted into a pillar of salt after looking back upon the destroyed cities. Well, tradition has it that a salt formation, known as “Lot’s Wife” is located near the Dead Sea visible and accessible to all visitors. The cave where Lot and his daughters took refuge is also near the Dead Sea, situated in a 7th century Byzantine church, now a part of the Museum of the Lowest Point on Earth.