The 1,500 year old Mar Saba monastery, located about six miles east of Bethlehem, Palestine, is the latest site to be nominated for the World Heritage list by the UN Education, Science, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The monastery is one of 13 sites within Palestine to be considered for the list.
The monastery was built by Mar Saba, or "Saint Sabas" and 5,000 other monks, and is the last of 80 Byzantine-era monasteries built in the area. Home to an ancient church, known as "the church built by God," the complex still adheres to monastic laws that have been in place since its founding. For example, women are not allowed to enter, only lemon and olive trees may be planted, and apples are forbidden.
Mar Saba monastery was nominated for its “cultural, religious and humanitarian value,” which Murad Al-Sudani, head of the Palestinian National Commission for Education, Culture, and Science (PNCECS) says “represents the national identity that unites both Muslims and Christians.”
If formally added to the World Heritage list, Mar Saba will join Battir, the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, and the pilgrimage route in Bethlehem as the fourth World Heritage site in Palestine.
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