The Holy Lavra of Saint Sabbas, known in Syriac as Mar Saba is the largest monastery in Israel’s Judaean Desert. This Eastern Orthodox Christian monastery lies to the south and west of the capital city Jerusalam – halfway between the Old City of Jerusalem and the Dead Sea -10KM east of Bethlehem. Mar Saba is named after Saint Sabas, the monk who established the monastery in the 5th century. Mar Saba hangs dramatically down the cliff edge of a deep ravine of the Kidron Creek which protects it from harm.
The monastery holds the relics of Saint Sabbas. When the Crusaders left the Holy Land they transferred Saba’s bones to Venice, which were returned here only in 1965.
Mar Saba was also the home of St. John of Damascus (676 – 749) and was important in the historical development of the liturgy of the Orthodox Church – the Typicon of Saint Sabas. This became a book of directions for worship services and ceremonies — standard for the Orthodox world up till the 19th century.
Air Vuz Drone Videos – by Rea Burla – Mar Saba
In 614 after the Persian invasion, the monastery was almost destroyed, but unlike most of the other monasteries in Eretz Yisrael, this one continued to exist and was restored in 629.
During the peak times it housed about 500 monks. Today, the complex houses around 20 monks. The entranced of women is restricted – and can access only one of the exterior towers.
The monastery is closed for visitors on Wednesdays and Fridays (the fasting days of the week).
Open: Open daily except Wednesdays and Fridays, 8am-4pm (ring bell). Only men may enter monastery; women are admitted only to Women’s Tower.