Despite the dark shadow of the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestine, the birthplace of Jesus continues to attract millions of tourists who flock to the holy city of Bethlehem every Christmas. But the historical significance of the Palestinian city goes beyond its renowned Church of Nativity. One site in particular, which dates back to the fifth century, traces Greek Orthodox monastic tradition in the Holy Land and is not only the perfect window into monastic life in the desert, offering its devout dwellers an escape from worldly distractions, but also a mind-blowing architectural masterpiece. The Mar Saba Monastery, set half-way between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea, is the oldest monastery in the Holy Land and one of the oldest continuously inhabited monasteries in the world.
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