Jordanian authorities have unveiled ambitious plans to build a biblical site where is believed Jesus was baptised.
The $100 million project will seek to turn the ‘Bethany Beyond Jordan’ site into a “tourist city” that will recreate how Jesus would have lived. They will build a first-century Palestinian village, along with hotels and restaurants.
"We will supply Arab-style tents and all sanitary services that will provide an authentic feeling," Sam Murad, chair of the new foundation created by the government, told Reuters.
"This allows us to be in concert with the theme yet at the same time provide housing at reasonable costs for pilgrims who want to spend spiritual time at this sacred location."
The site will sit adjacent to the UNESCO world heritage site which comprises the Al-Maghtas ancient monastery.
Following Jordanian efforts to demine the land between Israel and Jordan in the 1990s, many significant Christian archaeological sites were discovered, among those the exact location where it is believed Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist took place.
The land was then subsequently divided into three zones, one that includes the baptism location, another that became a UNESCO heritage site in 2015, and another in between. The biblical site would be spread across all three zones.
The Baptist World Alliance is one of nine organisations that have been granted the opportunity to build a church on the tourist site. Speaking to Premier, its CEO, Dr Elijah Brown, said the site not only includes the location of the baptism but also where it is believed that Elijah ascended into heaven in chariots of fire.
“It's [also] located exactly 14 kilometres from Mountain Niebo, where Moses stood and looked into the promised land, and then exactly 14 kilometres from there to Jerusalem. So it's the exact midpoint between where Moses looked into the Holy Land, and where Jerusalem is located today,” he continued.
The project is aiming to attract millions of Christian pilgrims to visit and celebrate the 2,000th anniversary of Jesus’ baptism.
No opening date has been set yet and the project needs to secure a further $200 million in funding.