- Syrian Arab Republic
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Those who are interested in the history of the Christian culture are recommended to visit ancient settlements in Syria. Saidnaya and Maaloula are excellent examples of communities that were able to save not only the priceless Christian places of interest, but also a unique way of life. These small villages are very close to each other, so as part of the tour travelers usually visit them together.
According to the latest data, the population of Maaloula is not more than 1 000 people; about 2/3 of their number are Christians. This picturesque mountain village can boast with the Mar Thecla monastery that is famous far beyond the country. The monastery is carved in the rock. Its main feature is a small cave with a chapel. According to one of the ancient legends, relics of St. Thecla are kept in this chapel, which was built during the time of the Byzantine Empire.
Another important Christian site, the Monastery of Saints Sergius and Bacchus, is situated at the top of the mountain above the village. Unfortunately, in recent years, armed clashes have led to the destruction of many religious monuments, and priceless relics went looted. Saidnaya is also known for the ancient monastery named Convent of Our Lady of Saidnaya. This convent is the largest in the country. It is always available to visit. The monastery features an incredibly spectacular complex of architectural structures with landscaped courtyards, many beautiful stairways and covered walkways.