''Qasr al-Yahud'' (Arabic
: ; also Kasser/Qasser al-Yahud/Yehud etc.; lit. "The tower of the Jews", Hebrew
: ) is the official name of a baptism
site in the Jordan River Valley
in the West Bank
. After the Six-Day War
in 1967, it has been placed under Israeli occupation
, and the site and facilities 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
(), 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.
The Arabic name of the baptism site is ''Al-Maghtas
'' meaning "immersion" and, by extension, "baptism", used for an area stretching over both banks of the river. The Jordanian side uses the names ''Al-Maghtas'', ''Bethany beyond the Jordan'' and ''Baptism(al) Site'', while the western part is known as ''Qasr al-Yahud''. The nearby Greek Orthodox
Monastery of St John the Baptist has a castle-like appearance (thus ''qasr'', "castle"), and tradition holds that the Israelites crossed the river at this spot (thus ''al-Yahud'', "of the Jews").
''Qasr al-Yahud'' is located in the West Bank
, a little southeast from Jericho
and is part of the Jericho Governorate
of Palestinian National Authority
''Qasr al-Yahud'' is close to the ancient road and river ford connecting Jerusalem, via Jericho, to several Transjordanian
biblical sites such as Madaba
, Mount Nebo
and the King's Highway
According to Procopius
(writing c. 560 CE), Emperor Justinian I
had a cistern
constructed here. In 1883 it was described as "still visible, in almost perfect condition".
[Conder and Kitchener, 1883, SWPIII, p]
19th and 20th century
The west side of the traditional baptism site became again a target for mass pilgrimage toward the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. Later in the century, a large number of churches and monasteries were built between the old Greek Orthodox Monastery of St John the Baptist and the river, an area that became known as the "Land of the Monasteries". It comprised Catholic (Franciscan), Greek, Ethiopian Orthodox, Syriac, Russian, Romanian, and Coptic churches.
The modern site reopened in 2011 after being closed since the 1967 Six-Day War.
The restoration project was approved before the 2000 millennium celebrations but was delayed due to the Second Intifada and flooding in the region in 2003. In 2000, Pope John Paul II held a private worship at the site.
''Qasr al-Yahud'' is administered by the Israeli Civil Administration and the Israeli Ministry of Tourism. Before the site became accessible, baptisms took place at Yardenit.
File:Jericho river baptism site.jpg|broader view
File:Baptism site - structure of Palestine at Jordan River.jpg|Renovated facilities at ''Qasr al-Yahud''
File:Both baptism ends across jordan river.jpeg|Both baptism ends across Jordan river
File:Facility at Baptism center Jericho end.jpg|Facility at Baptism center Jericho end
* New Testament places associated with Jesus
* (inscriptions and several graphitæ at
* (in 1870: pp
* (2 appendix, p
*Survey of Western Palestine, Map 18
Qasr al-Yahud, Israel's Nature and Parks Authority
Category:Megilot Regional Council
Category:Tourism in the West Bank