Temples of swoon: The stunning gravity-defying cliffside monasteries that look like sets from Indiana Jones movies
- St George’s Monastery juts out of a cliff in a desert gorge around 35 minutes by car from Jerusalem
- Highlights of the monastery include the gorge views, two churches, a cave chapel and the relics of monks
- The monastery at the Mount of Temptation clings to the contours of a cliff at an elevation of 1,150ft
If you want 2021 to have that Indiana Jones feel to it, here are a couple of sights to put on your bucket list for when it’s safe to travel again – St George’s Monastery near Jerusalem and the Monastery of the Temptation overlooking Jericho.
They both look like they could be sets from the Spielberg movies.
St George’s Monastery juts out of the side of an eye-catching cliff in the 21-mile-long Wadi Qelt gorge, roughly a 35-minute drive from Jerusalem in the direction of Jericho.
The Monastery of the Temptation, overlooking Jericho, is a breathtaking feat of engineering that clings to the contours of a cliff at an elevation of 1,150ft (350m)
Wadi you know: St George’s Monastery juts out of the side of a cliff in the Wadi Qelt valley, near Jerusalem. It was founded by monks in the 5th century
Visitors who want a challenge can follow a three-hour hiking route from Jerusalem through the Wadi Qelt valley to reach the monastery
It was founded in the caves of the cliff face by monks in the 5th century, who apparently chose the spot because the prophet Elijah was said to have been fed by ravens in a cave nearby in 9 BC.
It’s had a chequered history since then – after becoming an important spiritual centre in the sixth century, it was sacked by the Persians in the seventh century.
Restoration commenced in The Crusader period and has continued in fits and starts ever since.
Today, it’s open to visitors, who have a number of options for reaching the site from Jerusalem.
Visitors who want a challenge can follow a three-hour hiking route through the Wadi Qelt valley.
Those who want an easier life can take a taxi or drive to the car park close to the site and take a steep but far shorter walk downhill to the monastery.
The monastery has clocked up a rating of 4.5 out of 5 on TripAdvisor. One reviewer explained: ‘It’s impressive, it’s amazing and is something one will not easily forget’
Once at the summit of the site, visitors can explore two churches – the Church of the Holy Virgin and the Church of St. George and St. John – which are rich in mosaics and paintings
Once at the summit of the site, visitors can explore two churches – the Church of the Holy Virgin and the Church of St. George and St. John, which are rich in mosaics and paintings.
They can also visit the cave-church of St. Elijah and the bell tower that was added in the 1950s. Plus, they can see the relics of the resident monks that were killed during the Persian raid centuries ago.
The monastery has clocked up a rating of 4.5 out of 5 on Tripadvisor. One reviewer explained: ‘It’s impressive, it’s amazing and is something one will not easily forget.’
Another visitor said: ‘The silence of the desert, the beauty of the location, the spiritual atmosphere of this place is spellbinding and overwhelming.’
The Mount of Temptation, a short drive away, is where Jesus resisted the Devil’s temptations, according to Biblical scriptures.
The monastery there – also known as the Monastery of the Qurantul – is a breathtaking feat of engineering that clings to the contours of a cliff at an elevation of 1,150ft (350m).
Reaching it these days is a cinch thanks to a modern cable car that terminates near the entrance and aside from the spiritual allure, visitors are treated to amazing views across the Dead Sea to Jordan.
Hermits and monks have lived on the Mount of Temptation in natural caves since the early centuries of Christianity. This is an alley at the monastery there
A fresco in the Monastery of Temptation, which evolved from a chapel built in the 4th century
Hermits and monks have lived on the mountain in natural caves since the early centuries of Christianity, according to www.seetheholyland.net, with a monastery evolving from a 4th-century chapel.
The current building was constructed in the 19th century around the cave where Jesus is said to have fasted.
And the all-important Tripadvisor rating? Also 4.5 out of five on average, with one user, ‘walkleytravellers’, declaring the site ‘unique and photogenic’.
A modern cable car transports visitors to the entrance of the monastery on the Mount of Temptation
The Monastery of the Temptation has been described as ‘unique and photogenic’