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Seidnaya is a city located roughly 30km north of Damascus. The city’s Hellenistic name is Abilene, and is locally held to be the site of the grave of Abel.

The city is a centre for Christian pilgrimage. The Convent of Our Lady of Saidnaya was built by Justinian I in 547 CE, supposedly after he had two visions of the Virgin Mary. The icon of the Virgin within the church is purported to have been painted by Luke the Evangelist.

The city is fairly isolated, so enjoyed stability throughout most of its history. It is still relatively well preserved though modernized.

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