Wednesday, 22 January 2014

St. George Monastery, hidden outside Jerusalem

20km outside Jerusalem is a monastery founded in the 4th century hidden in the cliff that is believed to be the "Valley of Shadow" from the bible.  Vehicles have to be parked on top of the hill; pilgrims and visitors are to carry on by foot down the winding hill path and across a bridge to reach the monastery, now run by Greek Orthodox monks.  History has not been kind to the monastery, when it was almost completely destroyed by the Persians in 614AD and was left in disuse after the crusaders (or Knights Templar?) were disbanded in the 13th century.  As the majority of tourists are concentrated in Jerusalem, few tour groups or solo visitors venture all the way out in the desert.  It makes the quiet walk down the hill all the more a spiritual experience.  

From Jerusalem, take the highway towards Jericho.  As you can't find the monastery by GPS, you need to be very attentive of the road signs and distances.  Around 18km to 20km from Jerusalem there will be a sign for Wadi Qelt - the river that passes through St. George Monastery - , and shortly after a sign to turn left appears; turn left here.  In a couple hundred meters there is a fork (and no sign!), take the road on the right.  After that just follow the road.  A couple minutes later you will find a sand hill with a cross (see second photo below); here you can see the monastery hanging onto the cliffs at a distance.  Don't miss this sight.  

Visiting hours to the monastery is limited to 9am to 1pm.

St. George Monastery 座落於距離耶路撒冷二十公里的一個山谷之中,傳說這個山谷就是聖經中的「死蔭幽谷」。這所最近才進行修茸的修道院其實早在公元四世紀已經開始興建,現在由希臘東正教的僧人管理(主持?)。雖然這座修道院有很悠久的歷史,但是它並没有得到上天的眷顧。波斯人曾經把它徹底摧毀,經過十字軍的洗掠後便在十三世紀開始被棄置。


從耶路撒冷出發,在高速公路在 Jericho 方向,你要十分留意沿途的路牌指示,因為你不會在 GPS 上找到這個修道院。離開耶路撒冷大概十八至二十公里會有路牌指示前往 Wadi Qelt - 這是一條經過修道院的河流,之後見到指示左轉到修道院的路牌,進入小路後會有一個沒有指示的岔口,在這裏右轉後沿路走,幾分鐘後你會看一個小沙丘上有一個十字架,在這裏你已可以看見懸掛在谷中的修道院就在遠處。在你繼續前進之前,緊記要停下來欣賞一下這個壯觀的畫面。


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