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Inside Mar Saba Monastery in the West Bank

Mar Saba Monastery near Bethlehem attracts thousands of tourists each year, all the while facing constant attacks by Israeli settlers.
A picture taken on September 28, 2019 shows the Greek Orthodox monastery of St Sabbas, also known as Mar Saba, overlooking the Kidron Valley in the West Bank south of the biblical town of Bethlehem. (Photo by HAZEM BADER / AFP)        (Photo credit should read HAZEM BADER/AFP via Getty Images)

At the foot of a mountain peak in the Kidron Valley desert, the Mar Saba Monastery sits 1,500 meters (roughly a mile) away from the town of al-Ubeidiya, east of Bethlehem. The monastery dates back to the fifth century. Saint Saba, among other monks, founded it in 484 based on a unique engineering plan to become one of the oldest inhabited monasteries in the world.

The monastery is one of the most prominent Palestinian archaeological monuments. It is surrounded by magnificent natural sceneries showing the twists and turns of the valley. An 18-meter (59 feet) high tower called the Justinian Tower was erected next to the monastery in the sixth century and was used for observation.

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