At an isolated spot on the Jordan River, on the border between Jordan and the West Bank, stands the reputed spot of Jesus’s baptism by John, which began his ministry. John is said to have chosen the site because it was an important crossroads for passing traders and soldiers, but the same cannot be said today. Guarded by an Israeli checkpoint, the access road passes through minefields before reaching a car park, from which it is a short walk to the river.
At the river, expect to see dozens of pilgrims, most in white T-shirts or smocks, taking turns walking to the water and submerging themselves. On the Israeli side, the edge of the caged-off area denotes the border and prevents over-excited pilgrims from wading into Jordan.
Just metres away, armed Jordanian soldiers loll on a bench, facing their Israeli counterparts.
Whether you are religious or not, it is a beautiful and fascinating spot, and the site has been fully renovated with changing facilities, a gift shop, a food and drink outlet and shaded areas where you can sit and admire the view.