Wadi Qelt St. George’s Monastery
This is a mind-blowing cliff-hanging monastery, and it is among the oldest churches in the world. It is also among the most inspiring churches in Israel, and it is a great destination for desert and archaeological lovers. In the fourth century, some monks established a church that wants to learn about John the Baptist and Jesus’s lifestyles and desert stories. The monks then eventually settled on the spot around the cave where the locals believed ravens fed the prophet, Elijah.
The Persians then demolished this monastery, and the Crusaders then rebuilt it before it fell into ruin. In 1878, a Greek monk, Kalinikos, came to like in the monastery, which then helped the church look like its former glory. Kalinikos then finished the renovations of the monastery in 1901. You will find some Greek Orthodox monks that live in this monastery till today and welcome visitors. This monastery is considered a place of worship, and if you are planning to visit, you should avoid wearing shorts.
Once you get here, you will see mind-blowing Biblical-like scenery surrounding the monastery and the Wadi Kelt Vally. You should also visit the monastery’s upper part, where you will find the cave that Elijah the Prophet sought for shelter.
You can also explore the lower part of the monastery, where you will find a tomb of a Romanian monk who lived in the monastery in the 1960s, and you will be surprised to find out that his body is still well-preserved.
Mar Saba Latrun Monastery
This monastery is considered the greatest of all the ancient monasteries surrounding the wilderness of the Judean Desert. The church can be found hanging dramatically down the cliff edge of a deep ravine. The monastery features a grey-domed Greek Orthodox complex built during the 5th century by St Sabas, a monk from central Turkey. It then fell into ruin after a major earthquake before it was later largely rebuilt in 1834. It can be found 15km east of Bethlehem in a remote location and used to accommodate over 300 monks during its heyday. Although it is still a functioning desert monastery, the monks here are now about 20.
Mar Saba is ranked with St Catherine’s Monastery located in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula to be among the world’s oldest inhabited monasteries.
This monastery offers an insight into the age-old tradition of the holy people to leave behind the worldly distractions and seek God in the solitude of the desert. One of the most notable traditions of the Mar Saba tradition is the exclusion of women visitors. The women are only allowed to look over the complex from a viewpoint known as the Women’s Tower constructed based on the tradition that St Sabas’ mother was also not allowed to enter the monastery.