''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.

After 1967

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:KasserAlYahud4.jpg|Baptism site 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

See also

* Aenon * Bethabara * New Testament places associated with Jesus



* (inscriptions and several graphitæ at
general description
* (in 1870: pp
* * * (p
* (2 appendix, p

External links

*Survey of Western Palestine, Map 18
IAAWikimedia commons

Qasr al-Yahud, Israel's Nature and Parks Authority
{{Coord|31|50|18|N|35|32|21|E|region:IL_type:landmark_source:kolossus-cswiki|display=title Category:Baptism Category:Christian pilgrimages Category:Jordan River Category:Megilot Regional Council Category:Tourism in the West Bank