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Cherubim Monastery in Saidnaya a Historical Tale Nestled in the Peaks of Eastern Qalamoun Mountains.

DAMASCUS COUNTRYSIDE, (SANA) -- On the highest peak of the eastern Qalamoun mountains, nearly 2000 meters above sea level, lies the Cherubim Monastery, its ancient white stones overlooking the town of Saidnaya.

The Cherubim Monastery, which attracts pilgrims and tourists from around the world, is reached via a tight, snaking paved road cutting through the Qalamoun mountains.

The Monastery itself dates back to the 5th century AD, and all that remains of the original structure are white stones and ruins surrounded by olive trees.

Next to the ruins is a church, a shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and accommodations for monks and visitors.

The Monastery's ancient church was built around the same time as Lady of Saidnaya Monastery, and was restored in 1982.

It was built in Roman style, consisting of a hallway with three large stone columns covered by a tiled roof, and atop the church's fa ade overlooking the valley is a bell tower.

Behind the church is the shrine dedicate to the Virgin Mary, overlooking the valley and topped by a large cross.

To reach the shrine, one must walk across the Monastery ruins and climb stone stairs.

According to Father Khalil Khanshat, a local of Saidnaya, the renovated Cherubim Monastery was built atop a Roman temple which was itself built atop an Aramaic temple, noting that the Monastery was destroyed during the 16th century AD.

The renovated Monastery is pyramidal in shape with five stories, built of white stone with corridors topped with semicircular arches.

The ground floor was built in Roman-Byzantine style, and the second floor contains two large marble plaques decorated with carvings and bearing the names of people who prayed for forgiveness or healing to the Virgin Mary.

Located next to the Monastery is an administrative building of similar pyramidal shape with three stories, in addition to an orphanage connected to the Monastery by a long roofed passage containing a large marble plaque bearing the names of those who donated money to build the orphanage.



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Publication:Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA)
Date:Sep 17, 2012
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