The Mount of Temptation, or Mount Quarantania, rises to a height of 360 meters above sea level just a few kilometers west of Jericho. Its yellow and orange rocks create a stark contrast with the perennially green palm trees planted at its foot and the deep blue of the sky above.
The mountain is believed to be the place where Jesus was tempted by the devil during his 40 days of fasting and meditation in the desert. Every January, the monastery becomes the site of a pilgrimage commemorating the biblical event.
The numerous crevices, caves, and openings in the mount were inhabited by monks and hermits throughout the early centuries of Christianity. A Byzantine monastery, dated between the fourth and sixth centuries CE, was built atop the mountain over the ruins of a Hasmonean/Herodian era fortress. The area was abandoned following the Persian invasion in 614 and remained empty until the Crusaders arrived in 1099 and constructed two churches at the site.
In 1875, the mount’s present Greek Orthodox monastery was erected, ascending vertically from the mountain’s steep slope and creating an illusion of hanging freely in the air. It incorporated an austere cave chapel remaining from the medieval times that was built around the stone on which Jesus traditionally sat during his fast.
The quite, dark interior of the church is constantly illuminated with the small and numerous flames of wax candles lit by pilgrims during their prayers. The chapels are decorated with carefully written icons depicting the images of Christian saints or illustrating biblical events.
On the way to the monastery, you may also be tempted a few times. First, you will be tempted by the local vendors selling a variety of souvenirs, including necklaces, colorful scarves, and wooden rosaries. Then, just before reaching the site, you will also be tempted by small cafes and a restaurant with an amazing view from their terraces, selling fresh-squeezed juices and other traditional, tasty treats.