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Sacred & Religious Sites
Saidnaya is a city located in the mountains, 1500 metres above sea level, 27km north of the city of Damascus in Syria. Though orthographically slightly variant with Arabic, the spelling is consistent with Syriac-Aramaic orthography of the name for "Our Lady" and refers, almost certainly to the Virgin Mary, a renowned icon of whom is revered in the city's main church by both Christians and Muslims to this day. The town is noted for the large number of Aramaic speakers, along with nearby Maaloula and few smaller towns nearby such as Maarat Saidnaya. The Hellenistic-era name for the region centered in the Barada Valley was Abilene: the local tradition has thus long held it as the site where the grave of Abel, slain brother of Cain, lies. Scholars consider it likely that the capital of Abilene was the city of Saidnaya. According to the Syria Central Bureau of Statistics, Saidnaya had a population of 25,194 in the 2004 census.
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