Bethany Beyond the Jordan is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Bethany beyond the Jordan, or Jordan’s Baptism Site is now on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List, making it the fifth site in the Kingdom to be included in the list, joining Petra, Quseir Amra, Um Al Rassas and the desert of Wadi Rum.
With this addition, the site is now confirmed as the official place where Jesus Christ is believed to have been baptized by John the Baptist.
The decision was made on Friday during a World Heritage Committee meeting in Bonn, where the panel met to examine proposals to inscribe 37 sites. Out of these candidates, The World Heritage Committee ap[proved three new cultural sites to the World Heritage List. These sites are the Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalú and Monreale in Italy; Baptism Site or Bethany Beyond the Jordan (Al-Maghtas) in Jordan and Rock Art in the Hail Region of Saudi Arabia.
Minister of Tourism Nayef Fayez gave a statement where he affirmed that Jordan managed to implement all requirements needed to add the Baptism Site on this list, adding that continuous care is required to maintain the site in this list in the future. He added that after the site had been recognized for its religious importance since the late 1990s, now it is recognized as a heritage site, which adds more to its significance.
In a statement posted on its website, UNESCO said the Baptism Site, 40km west of Amman, is classified among mixed natural and cultural sites.
A statement issued by The Catholic Center for Studies and Media (CCSM) takes utmost pride in the voting which resulted in having the Baptism Site of Lord Jesus Christ added to the World Heritage sites. Fr. Rif’at Bader, director of CCSM said that he appreciated the efforts undertaken by His Majesty King Abdullah II Bin Al Hussein; Prince Ghazi Bin Mohammad, chairman of the board of trustees of the Baptism Site; the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities; and the Jordan Tourism Board in order to have the site recognized for its historical, religious and cultural importance.
The statement notes that this is the right time to preserve this world heritage with the support of the global human family, which consequently necessitates concerted efforts aimed at protecting and promoting the Site.
The Baptism site was discovered by the Jordanian archaeologist, Dr. Mohammad Waheeb, who used the bible to dig around the approximate site. He was hampered by land mines that used to be planted in this area before the peace treaty with Israel. Nowadays, the Baptism Site is visited by thousands of visitors. Pope John Paul II visited the site in 2000, Pope Benedict in 2009 and Pope Francis in 2014.
Bethany Beyond the Jordan is rightfully regarded as one of the holiest places in the world, since it is the place from where the Christian faith started its message of love and peace for all the human family, making Jordan a part of the holy land.