- Place or Religious Monument
- Place or Historical Monument
I visited Syria in 2010, just a few months prior to the beginning of the Syrian conflict. After spending three full days in Damascus, I travelled to Ma'loula, famous for its ancient churches and its stunning geographical location.
The town's appearance is remarkable – and stands out against its Syrian counterparts. Found at the heart of a lush valley, Ma'loula is known for its troglodyte lodges and blue stone houses – often the image conjured up by when mentioning the town – which sit against the backdrop of a massive cliff face. At the top of this cliff, you can find the Mar Sarkis monastery. This is home to a church constructed back in 325, which is – or was, prior to the beginnings of the conflict – one of the oldest churches you can visit in the world.
This, together with the other monastery located beneath and said to be under the protection of St Thecla, had led to Ma'loula becoming one of the principal places of pilgrimage for Christians from the east.