Deir Mar Yaqoub (دير مار يعقوب), a monastery dedicated to Saint Jacob, was in nearly complete ruin until the mid-90s when a restoration project began under the leadership of Lebanese and Syrian Roman Catholic nuns. Today, it is almost completely rebuilt and houses a convent. The monastery dates back to the fifth century, when the Byzantine empire controlled Syria, and it was built on the remains of an earlier Roman fort. The monastery contains frescoes which date from the 13th century. Visitors are welcome, and the monastery also offers accommodation including meals.
Getting There: Deir Mar Yaqoub (دير مار يعقوب) is located about two kilometers northwest of the town of Qara (قارة). Infrequent microbuses travel between Damascus (دمشق) and Qara (قارة), departing from the large bus station at al-Thawra al-Arabiyeh al-Kabra Square (ساحة الثورة العربية الكبرى), which is northeast of al-Abaseen Square (ساحة العباسيين) and generally referred to simply as Karajat (كرجات). Since Qara (قارة) is on the main highway, it may be faster to hop on one of the countless buses traveling from Damascus (دمشق) to Homs (حمص) or Aleppo (حلب) and disembark on the edge of town. Either way, the trip takes about one hour.
Private transportation can be arranged from Qara (قارة) to the monastery, or one could simply walk the remaining two kilometers continuing west on the main road through town. Qara (قارة) is located about 10 kilometers north of al-Nabk (النبك) and Deir Mar Yaqoub (دير مار يعقوب) can therefore easily be combined with a visit to Deir Mar Musa (دير مار موسى) and/or Yabrud (يبرود).
Coordinates: 34°09’59.31″N / 36°43’19.14″E
Transliteration Variants: Deir Mar Yakoub, Deir Mar Yacoub
Rating: (4.5 / 10)