Yardenit Baptismal Site – Full Guide With Photos

Guide to Yardenit Baptismal Site starts with basics (Qasr el Yahud, Bible, meaning, map) and then we will go for a visit. Let’s begin!

Qasr el Yahud

To explain what is Yardenit, we should start with Qasr el Yahud. According to tradition, Qasr el Yahud is the traditional place where the baptism of Jesus and other events took place.

Qasr el Yahud is the official name of a baptism site in the Jordan River Valley in the West Bank. The site and facilities, under Israeli occupation, are administered by the Israeli Civil Administration and the Israeli Ministry of Tourism as part of a national park.

It is the western part of the traditional site of the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:13-17). In Arabic Al-Maghtas, a name which was historically used for the pilgrimage site on both sides of the river. It is also traditionally considered to be the place where the Israelites crossed the Jordan River, and the prophet Elijah ascended to heaven.

Source: Wikipedia

Today Qasr el Yahud is a National Park, and you can visit it.

Here is a quote from the official site:

According to various traditions, the site is also believed to be the place where the Children of Israel crossed the Jordan River and entered the Holy Land after their 40 years of wandering in the desert. It is here that: “as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, that the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off, the waters that come down from upstream, and they shall stand as a heap.” (Josh 3:13)

Another event attributed to this site is Elijah’s ascension to heaven in a fiery chariot after he and Elisha crossed the Jordan: “Now Elijah took his mantle, rolled it up, and struck the water; and it was divided this way and that, so that the two of them crossed over on dry ground.” (2 Kings 2:8)

Yardenit vs. Qasr el Yahud

If Qasr el Yahud is the traditional place, why most people visit Yardenit? The reason is the wars. Until 1967 Qasr el Yahud was under Jordanian control. And masses of tourists and pilgrims visited it. In 1968 access to the site was banned because of its location. Qasr el Yahud is located on the border between Israel and Jordan, and you can see the other side. Thus, Yardenit, south of the Sea of Galilee, was subsequently created as an alternative site for baptism. But today you can visit both of these sites.

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, the Unesco declared Al Maghtas together with Jabal Mar-Elias (Elijah’s Hill) on the East bank a world heritage site.

Source: Wikipedia

Bible

In Qasr el Yahud section, I already brought quotes from Josh 3:13 and 2 Kings 2:8. So in this section, I will include the last one. Matthew 3:13-17 (New Revised Standard Version):

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John.
14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.

16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.
17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

Meaning

In Hebrew, in many cases the suffix “it” means something small. Thus Yardenit means small Jordan river.

The Jordan River is called “Yarden” in Hebrew, and “Yardenit” means “little Jordan River”. The nearby Kibbutz Kinneret, which operates the site, is named after the Sea of Galilee, or “Kinneret” in Hebrew. The origin of the name of the Kinneret is attributed to the shape of the sea, which resembles a violin – “Kinor” in Hebrew.

Source: official site

Note: last part of the quote states that the name Kinneret comes from the word violin. If you read my Sea of Galilee guide, then you are already familiar with this common misconception.

Map

Yardenit is located on the shore of Jordan river, not far from Sea of Galilee and Kibbutz Kinneret.

The Yardenit baptism site is located at the entrance to Kibbutz Kinneret, where the Jordan River flows from the Sea of Galilee. This pristine area is near other holy places like Capernaum, Tabgha, Bethsaida, Kursi and the Mount of Beatitudes. This location reflects the perfect combination of Christian heritage and stunning landscapes of the Holy Land.

Source: official site
Map of the area:

Directions

If you are driving to Yardenit, then you can find free parking on site. For reference, a drive from Nazareth to Yardenit will take about an hour (depending on traffic), and the distance is approximately 42 km.

And if you are using public transport, then you can take bus #31 to Bet Yerah High school bus stop and walk from there. Here are the directions in Moovit for Nazareth -> Yardenit. Moreover, if your starting point is something else, then change it (in the provided link), and you will get relevant directions.

Opening Hours

Yardenit is open seven days a week all year round, except for the Jewish Holiday of Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement).
On the eves of Jewish/Israeli holidays the site is closed at 1:00 pm.

March – November
Saturday – Thursday: 8:00 am till 18:00 (Baptism Ceremonies until 17:00)
Friday: 8:00 am till 16:00 pm (Baptism Ceremonies until 15:00pm)

December – February
Saturday – Thursday: 8:00 am till 18:00 (Baptism Ceremonies until 16:00)
Friday: 8:00 am till 16:00 pm (Baptism Ceremonies until 15:00pm)

Note: opening hours were updated in August 2019. In any case, recheck the official hours and the dates of holidays at the official site.

Entrance Fee

Free entrance, but if you are planning a baptismal ceremony, then there will be an additional fee.

Entry to the site is free, and there is no charge for conducting baptismal ceremonies. To sustain a respectable and spiritual atmosphere, we require visitors to wear special white robes during their baptism. These may be rented or purchased on site. To cover operating costs, Yardenit charges nominal fees for the use of some of its facilities.

Source: official site

Entrance to Yardenit Baptismal Site, Israel
Entrance to Yardenit Baptismal Site

To both enter and exit Yardenit Baptismal Site, you will have to pass through the store. The shop is quite big and offers a variety of religious items, cosmetics, jewelry, and other souvenirs from the Holy Land.

Yardenit Baptismal Site

And then you will get to the baptismal area.

Yardenit Baptismal Site

While we visited, there were many different groups, and as you can see, there are many sections. Thus, about half a dozen baptismal ceremonies took place at the same time.

Yardenit Baptismal Site

I expected to see people taking photographs using their smartphones. Moreover, some groups brought professional photographers. But I was a little surprised when I saw drones. I guess whatever does the job (as long as it is legal).

We exited the site through the store and headed to our next attraction. And if you are looking for additional POI, check out Sea of Galilee guide.

Have you ever been to the Yardenit Baptismal Site? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.

That’s all for today, and I’ll see you in future travels!

Stay Tuned! 
 

Additional Resources

Here are several resources that I created to help travelers:

And if you have any questions then check out Useful Information For Tourists To Israel.
 

Did not find what you were looking for? Email me at hi@israel-in-photos.com, and I will do my best to answer your questions.

Lev Tsimbler

Lev from israel-in-photos.com. You can contact me at hi@israel-in-photos.com

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