Yardenit is located at the northern end of the lower or long Jordan River, near where it flows south out of the Sea of Galilee. The Yardenit, (meaning “little Jordan” in Hebrew) is visited by hundreds of thousands of Christian pilgrims every year, many of whom revere it as the baptismal site and come to be baptized themselves. Some pilgrims choose to have second baptisms or re-dedications at the Yardenit.
Yardenit as a baptism site
The baptism of Jesus is described in all four gospels. Christian traditions differ regarding the site for the baptism of Jesus. Some prefer the Yardenit, while others favor sites near Beit Shean and Jericho such as the Qasr al Yahud Baptism Site. Those favoring the Yardenit associate it with a place called Beit Abara mentioned in the Gospel according to John. They also note that Jesus went from Nazareth or the Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized and cite the Yardenit as located on the Jordan close to the Galilee.
Although Jesus is believed to have been baptized in Al-Maghtas (on the Palestinian side of the river), Yardenit served as a substitute for the original baptismal site after the Six-Day War until it opened again to the public in 2011.
Yardenit is considered a sacred place for the most devout pilgrims as it is also popular among casual tourists. The pilgrims, after flocking to see the river, would usually buy a bottle of the sacred water and participate in the baptismal. If you are going to participate in the baptism ritual, Yardenit will provide you with robes either for rental or for purchase and changing rooms to change costumes.
Beyond its religious significance, the Yardenit, especially when not crowded, is a charming location to drink coffee and enjoy shady, tranquil views of the lower Jordan River and possibly even see some wildlife. You can see fish and even otter that swim freely in the water, which is regularly and closely monitored for safety and quality.
The area also has a restaurant and a large souvenir shop. Group and private tours are available. It is also reasonably wheelchair accessible.
Getting to the Yardenit
On Road 90 south of Tiberias and just north of Kibbutz Degania, make the turn towards Kvutzot Kinneret and the site is almost immediately on your left.
Check out its official website for more information: yardenit.com.