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Mar Saba Monastery

​The Greek Orthodox Mar Saba Monastery was built some 1,500 years ago, and is one of the oldest still-inhabited monasteries in the world.

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The Greek Orthodox Mar Saba Monastery in the Judean Desert east of Bethlehem seems to hang precariously from the walls of the Kidron Valley. But it is as sturdy as the faith it represents: it was built some 1,500 years ago, and is one of the oldest still-inhabited monasteries in the world. 

Like the Monastery of St. George to the north, Mar Saba was founded by monks seeking solitude and to emulate the prophets, Jesus and John the Baptist. Originally they lived in caves, but as their founder Mar (Saint) Saba gained fame for his piety, the monastery was built.


Its dramatic view is a highlight of a trip that many Christian groups enjoy, traveling by four-wheel-drive vehicles that can navigate every corner of the desert. Some visitors even hike down to the monastery, which women can view from the Women’s Tower, and men can enter to see the church where the remains of St. Saba are preserved.


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