The Judean Desert

The Judean Desert – Land of Ancient Monasteries

A Tour Following Monks and Monasteries

Many years before Christianity was acknowledged as an official religion, loners and different sects were attracted to the Judean Desert.

A well known one was the Essenes or Dead Sea sect who secluded themselves in the Kumran. They found peace and inspiration in the magical desert overlooking the Dead Sea. John the Baptist was one of the first monks who lived with this sect.

The world’s very first Christian monks chose to go into hermitage in caves in the Judean Desert, a few Kilometers away from Jerusalem.

The monks Chriton, Sabas, Abtimius, Helerion and Teodosius and many others were the pioneers, and in their footsteps, hermitages were established- Laoras and Kenubion. These are communal life forms of monks who were subject to the abbot and lived in a strict system, with strict rules and regulations.

The first Kenubion were establishd in the early fourth century (A.C) in caves, in secluded areas and near water sources. Later on, large monasteries were built such as: Saint George, Mar-Saba, Chriton and Carntal. These monasteries are very beautiful. Their magic can be seen and admired and it is possible to visit some of them.

Between Jericho and the Jordan River impressive monasteries exist like Kasr El Yehud, where John baptized Jesus.

The monasteries were built on great cliffs, and the monks made use of ropes and ladders. In these monasteries were built a church for praying in, dining halls, bakeries, water holes, industrial facilities and wine presses.

The monks subsisted on agricultural crops.

In the sixth century (A.C) when the Byzantine Empire thrived, the monasteries reached their peak and thousands of monks lived in them.