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. Using our world travel planner, Bethlehem attractions like Mar Saba Monastery can form part of a personalized travel itinerary.
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Mar Saba Monastery Reviews
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  • July 28, 2017
    We drove there after work and looked down on the monastery. Women aren't allowed in other than the Women's tower which was closed. However we had a guide who told us the history of the monastery and w...  more »
  • July 23, 2017
    About 20 kilometers east of Bethlehem in the desert of Judea we find the oldest still active monastery in the world. The best way to go there is to go by a taxi. Out here you will get the feeling of a...  more »
  • July 15, 2017
    Beyond all the fake, or invented, history in Bethlehem, there does exist this amazing monastery. Just 17km outside of town, perched on cliff, this incredible monastery has existed for 1,500 years. Par...  more »
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  • July 8, 2017
    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.
  • December 10, 2016
    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.
  • February 14, 2015
    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.
  • February 3, 2015
    Beautiful scenery and very polite monks
  • May 10, 2017
    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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