Seydnaya, an interesting cool spot (its elevation is 4,640 ft/1,415 m) 12 mi/19 km north of Damascus, is worth a day trip to visit the monastery of Seydnaya. Be sure to see the Virgin Mary icon, said to have been painted by the apostle Luke. During the Crusades, pilgrims claimed that its face oozed oil. Note the surrounding grottos, which were once used as tombs.

This is one of the three towns in Syria where residents still speak Aramaic.

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