When the new town of Ma’ale Adumim was built in the Judean hills east of Jerusalem, (1982-85) the remains of the large Byzantine Monastery of Martyrius were uncovered on a hill called Khirbet el-Murasas in the center of the new town. The monastery is on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. The monastery covers an area of 10,000 m2 and is almost perfectly square. The Martyrius Monastery is the largest walled monastery in the Judaean Desert. After the Persian invasion in 614 and the Arab conquest in the 630’s, the monastery was finally abandoned in the 7th C.
The site is well preserved and contains a church, chapels, refectory and kitchen, stable, living quarters for monks, cisterns, bathhouse and a hospice for visiting pilgrims. There is a 26.5 x 12 mosaic in the dining area.
Martyrius was born in Cappadocia (in present-day Turkey) and arrived in the year 457 at the Monastery of Euthymius east of Jerusalem.He spent some years as a hermit in the large monastic center of Nitria, Egypt, which was then the center of monasticism. He arrived in the Judean desert in 457, together with a friend Elias, an ex-Arab monk who also was a prominent hermit (Elias founded monasteries and became the Patriarch of Jerusalem in 494-518). Martyrius left that crowded Laura and lived as a hermit in a nearby cave. Later he served as a priest of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and as Patriarch of Jerusalem (478-486). During this period he probably built and supported the monastery bearing his name.
Directions: Martyrius Monastery is located in Ma’aleh Adummim. Visitors coming from Jerusalem drive on road 1in the direction of the Dead Sea and turn left to Ma’aleh Adummim. On the third traffic circle turn left to Midbar Yehuda St. and on the fifth circle turn right to the site, according to the signs.