CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - Christian tourists visiting Israel in 2009 will be able to see some newly refurbished sites along the "Pilgrim's Route" between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea.
The government's Civil Administration and the Tourism Ministry are refurbishing the site where the story of the Good Samaritan took place and the place where John baptized Jesus, called Qasr al-Yehud in Arabic (the Jew's Palace).
The Arab name comes from the large monasteries built in the area, but there is a Jewish connection to the site. It is thought to be the place where the Israelites first entered the Promised Land.
Israeli archaeologists have recently reconstructed the mosaic floor of a Byzantine-era church built at the site where the story of the Good Samaritan took place, which is just off the main highway from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea.
The baptismal site, which is near Jericho, is also being refurbished to provide shaded areas and access for wheelchairs, among other improvements.
Eight years ago, the Jordanians built a tourism site on the opposite side of the Jordan River. But the Israeli side remained a closed military zone for a large part of the year.
Israel finally decided to refurbish the sites and improve the roads leading to them, which will be a big help to Christian tourists visiting Israel next year.