More than 20 churches, caves and baptismal pools have been excavated at Wadi Kharrar on the Jordan side of the Jordan River. It is believed that the area was the site of Bethany Beyond the Jordan, where John the Baptist lived and where he baptised Jesus.
It has only been since 1996 that it has been possible to unearth these Roman and Byzantine discoveries, as fighting between Jordan and Israel did not cease until 1994. In recent years a new road, visitors' centre and walkways have been put in place, making it easier to visit this sacred site.
Several new churches are also being built on the site, with the golden dome of the Greek Orthodox Church of St John the Baptist instantly recognisable. Other associations of the area with the Bible include Joshua crossing the river with the Israelites to the Promised Land; Elijah being taken up to heaven on a chariot of fire; and Jesus retreating to Bethany Beyond the Jordan when he was threatened with stoning in Jerusalem.
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