Driving towards Maalula, a journey to the heart of Syria’s cultural heritage begins. The town’s unique distinction lies in its inhabitants who still speak Aramaic, the ancient language spoken by Jesus Christ. This linguistic connection to the past adds an intriguing layer to the town’s cultural tapestry, making it a captivating destination.
Upon arrival in Maalula, visitors are greeted by charming painted houses that create a picturesque setting against the backdrop of the surrounding landscapes. The town’s narrow streets lead to the historic monasteries of St. Thekla and St. Sergius, which hold deep religious and historical significance. These monasteries offer a serene and sacred atmosphere, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in the spirituality and rich traditions of the Christian community.
Continuing the journey deeper into the Anti-Lebanon valley, travelers reach the secluded monastery of Deir Mar Mousa. This living monastic community was revived by Father Paolo dell’Oglio, an Italian Jesuit, who dedicated himself to preserving the spiritual heritage of the region. The monastery provides a tranquil retreat amidst the rugged beauty of the landscape.
At Mar Mousa, visitors have the opportunity to view frescoes dating back to the seventh century, offering a glimpse into the artistic and religious traditions of the past. These ancient artworks, with their vibrant colors and intricate details, provide a window into the spiritual and artistic heritage of the region.
As travelers explore the monastery, they can also sample locally produced cheeses, savoring the flavors of the land and experiencing the traditional culinary delights of the area. The locally made cheeses are known for their distinct taste and quality, showcasing the rich agricultural heritage of the region.
Moreover, the monastery’s location offers breathtaking views across the harsh desert valley below. The rugged beauty of the surrounding landscapes, with their contrasting colors and dramatic formations, creates a mesmerizing panorama. Standing on the monastery grounds, visitors can appreciate the vastness of the desert and the profound silence that envelops the area.
By immersing themselves in the spiritual and cultural treasures of Maalula and Deir Mar Mousa, travelers gain a deeper understanding of Syria’s rich heritage. The journey allows for an exploration of ancient languages, religious traditions, artistic expressions, and the natural beauty of the desert landscapes. It is a unique opportunity to connect with the past, savor the present, and behold the profound beauty that lies within the heart of Syria.