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Sacred & Religious Sites
Ma'loula, Maaloula, or Ma'lula is a town in the Rif Dimashq Governorate in Syria. The town is located 56 km to the northeast of Damascus and built into the rugged mountainside, at an altitude of more than 1500 m. It is known as one of three remaining villages where Western Aramaic is still spoken, the other two being the nearby villages Jubb'adin and Al-Sarkha (Bakhah).Etymologyis from the Aramaic word '''', meaning 'entrance'. Until recently, the town was dominated by speakers of Western Neo-Aramaic.PopulationAccording to the Syria Central Bureau of Statistics, Ma'loula had a population of 2,762 in the 2004 census. However, during summer, it increases to about 10,000, due to people coming from Damascus for holidays. Half a century ago, 15,000 people lived in Ma'loula.Religiously, the population consists of both Christians (mainly members of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch and the Melkite Greek Catholic Church) and Muslims. For the Muslim inhabitants, the legacy is all the more remarkable given that they were not Arabised, unlike most other Syrians who like them were Islamised over the centuries but also adopted Arabic and shifted to an Arab ethnic identity.
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