Deir Mar Elias (دير مار الياس) is a mountainside church built over a much more ancient cave to the north of Damascus (دمشق). The cave contains decently preserved frescoes, dated on stylistic grounds to the 11th or 12th century. The site offers beautiful views of the countryside, overlooking the valley that connects Damascus (دمشق) to the north of the country. It is associated by local tradition with the cave that sheltered Old Testament prophet Elijah during his sojourn in the desert of Damascus (دمشق). Above the church a modern monastery complex was recently constructed, and the site is not far from the more well known monasteries in Seidnaya (صيدنايا).
Getting There: The closest you can get to Deir Mar Elias (دير مار الياس) using public transportation is the village of Maarat Seidnaya (معرة صيدنايا). Be careful not to confuse Maarat Seidnaya (معرة صيدنايا) with Seidnaya (صيدنايا), a few kilometers to the northwest. Direct microbuses from Damascus (دمشق) to Maarat Seidnaya (معرة صيدنايا) depart from the microbus station near Balal Square (ساحة بلال) between Qasaa (قصاع) and Zablatani (زبلطاني), slightly northeast of Bab Touma Square (ساحة باب توما). The trip takes about 30-45 minutes.
From Maarat Seidnaya (معرة صيدنايا), a sign points the way to Deir Mar Elias (دير مار الياس), about a two kilometer, 30 minute walk southeast (mostly uphill). The road ends at a new monastery complex being built on the edge of the mountain. Behind this complex is a stairway that leads part-way down the mountain to the old monastery/church.
It would make sense to combine a visit to Deir Mar Elias (دير مار الياس) with the other Christian sites in the area: Seidnaya (صيدنايا), Deir Mar Touma (دير مار توما), and Deir al-Shirubeim (دير الشيروبيم).
Coordinates: 33°39’18.18″N / 36°24’04.25″E
Transliteration Varients: None
Rating: (3.5 / 10)