The Dead Sea and Bethany
Descend from Amman (at 735m/2,490ft) into the Jordan Valley, through a barren yet dramatic landscape to reach the banks of the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth (408m/1,305 ft below sea level). You will have the opportunity for a dip in the saline waters of this unique lake (changing room facilities and towels are provided at the Holiday Inn). Continue to nearby Bethany-Beyond-the-Jordan, mentioned in the Gospel of St John, the place where John the Baptist lived and where he almost certainly baptised Jesus Christ. This low-lying area, closed off for many years as a military zone, was reopened in 1994 and a wealth of ancient sites have since been uncovered, including Byzantine churches, babtismal pools from Roman and Byzantine times and lodges for pilgrims. This is the Biblical Plains of Moab. The place where Jesus was baptised (below right) is no longer in the river itself, which used to have a much higher water level. Visit the remains of the 6th century Church of John the Baptist. Nearby is the new Greek Orthodox Church of the same name (below left), built in 2005.