Mar Saba Monastery, Bethlehem

4.8
#2 of 7 in Historic Sites in Bethlehem
Reputedly the oldest continuously inhabited monastery in the world, Mar Saba Monastery hangs over a ravine from a cliff edge. The desert monastery started out in the 5th century as a series of hermits' caves; later, the Greek Orthodox Church built the monastery here, dedicated to those early monks' leader, St. Sabas. Current churches, chapels, and cells date back to 1834, when the monastery was restored after an earthquake. Compare the austerity of the living quarters to the splendor of golden icons adorning the walls of the churches. In keeping with an old tradition, only men may enter the monastery, while women can view it from a tower, allegedly built by the saint's mother. Make Mar Saba Monastery a centerpiece of your Bethlehem vacation itinerary, and find what else is worth visiting using our Bethlehem road trip planning tool .
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Mar Saba Monastery Reviews
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  • Lovely from outside. Only men may visit. We went to visit with some local little bus. You can also go by 4x4 cars.  more »
  • Women are not allowed to visit this monastery, so you just can look at it from the outside. We walked around until we reached a small Bedouin village, more of a small shantytown then of a tent village...  more »
  • This Greek Orthodox monastery nestled in the mountain. Unfortunately we could not visit the inside because Wednesday is closed. But you can make a beautiful walking path that gets out and walks up the Rocky Hill and making appreciate the place. Unpleasant, although harmless, the presence of young Palestinians who practically begging for a few euros. Otherwise makes understand many things ....
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  • Be carefull thats banned for females to enter the monastry.You watch the monastry at the opposite hill especially on sunset,thats wonderful.Workers in monastry call you to leave the area you pretend to obey the rules.But enjoy the view with your friends.
  • Stunning place, excellent welcome even if women stay at the gate, they get biscuits and drinks. But the chance to get a private car stolen outside is about 100%. Cross the Kidron valley by foot. Body of St Saba inside and St John of Damas.
  • A truely amazing destination in the heart of the Judean Desert!. Can only be reached by 4x4 or through Palestinian "Area A", but so deserves the effort!. Clinging to the cliff of the Kidron, the Mar Saba monastery is the best example of the Byzantine period Judean Desert monastic movement.
  • Beautiful scenery and very polite monks
  • Monastery complex with V. At the foot of the grave. John Chrysostom. Note, the absolute prohibition of access to women.
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Where to stay in Bethlehem

The main tourist traffic in Bethlehem consists of tour groups arriving from Jerusalem, getting a hectic tour of the town, and leaving. But Bethlehem's tangled streets house a number of accommodations worth checking out if you want to extend your stay beyond a brief look around. Located here, there, and everywhere, the hotels in town blend in with the rest of the buildings, so you should certainly plan ahead to make sure you know exactly where yours is. A couple of luxury choices have ornamental interiors, fine-dining restaurants, and pools, while standard hotels and guesthouses abound, along with a few backpacker hostels.
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