A Spiritual Retreat

After the excitement of Palmyra I decided to take my brother and his girlfriend to Marmusa, an isolated fortress that had in about the 6th century been converted into a small church and monastery. Its turbulent history meant that it had fallen into disrepair and fluctuated in being a working monastery from time to time. However in the 1980s an Italian monk came to Marmusa and though his own will alone helped renovate and repair the dilapidated building. Now it is a working monastery promoting cross religious dialogue and welcomes visitors from all faiths and backgrounds. You can stay for a day or stay for as long as you want for free as long as you help out in some way.

So it was under this introduction that my brother, his girlfriend and I started at the bottom of the path that lead (after 20 minutes) to the monastery after being dropped off at the side of the road by a local service van. Nestled in-between two hillsides the sand coloured building blended into the hillside as we started the walk up the meandering stone path. After getting to the top we entered the very very very small doorway (About 1 metre by 1 metre) and entered into to the small courtyard atop the fortress. Here we were greeted by one of the monks (in jeans and a t-shirt!) and took a seat before tea was brought to reward us for our effort.

From our viewpoint we could see the desert plains stretching off in the distance and more mountains helping to give a canvas for the sunlight to paint. After exploring the small peaceful church complete with original frescos my brother and I went to the extensive yet maze like library to explore. Split on three levels its a great space to explore though narrow corridors and doorways then into large book filled rooms. After having lunch there of lentils, onions and peppers we sadly had to leave, so a service taxi was called by radio for us from the nearest town. We descended the long path with the imposing fortress looking down at us us leaving and boarded the bus as it was becoming dark. A great day away from it all.

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