Qasr al Yahud (The Jews’ Castle or Palace) is a site on the banks of the Jordan River not far from Jericho. Christian tradition associates Qasr al Yahud with the site of Jesus’ baptism by Matthew (Matthew 3) and it has been revered as such from at least the fourth century. There are many monasteries and churches in the area testifying to the long religious tradition at Qasr al Yahud. In Jewish tradition the crossing of the Jordan by the Children of Israel under Joshua (Joshua 3) must also have taken place in this general area. It is also associated with the site where Elijah handed over the prophecy to Elisha and rose to heaven on a fiery chariot (2 Kings 11).
After the Six-Day War in 1967, Qasr al Yahud has been placed under Israeli control, with the sites and facilities being now administered by the Israeli Civil Administration, the Israeli Ministry Tourism, and (possibly) Israel Nature and Parks Authority as a national park. The current site re-opened in 2011 after years of restoration.
Due to its location, Qasr al Yahud has not been an easy place to visit, and the Yardenit Baptismal Site has been the preferred choice of pilgrims. However, Qasr al Yahud has been recently refurbished with access to the river, showers, facilities for prayer, wheelchair access and improved car parking. The site now seems to be under the administration of the Israel Parks Authority and is now open daily. The water quality is regularly inspected to ensure that it is safe to enter the Jordan. Please be aware the wet decking can be very slippery!
The general area is amazingly beautiful and is a good place to understand desert landscape and see the impact of water – the trail of the Jordan is very clear with an oasis like quality.
There are many churches in use, abandoned and being constructed in the area. The Jordan River is very narrow and it is possible to carry out a normal conversation with pilgrims in Jordan! Please be aware the Jordanian authorities take a very dim view of illegal border crossings. Although this is a place of outstanding natural beauty and religious significance it is an international border in every respect.
Getting to Qasr al Yahud
Qasr al Yahud is located off the main north south Road 90 near Jericho.
If you are reaching Qasr al Yahud by car, type: “Baptismal Site on the Jordan River – Qasr al-Yahud” on Waze.