Sonja Wood

Written by Sonja Wood

Modified & Updated: 02 Jun 2024

Sherman Smith

Reviewed by Sherman Smith


The Mar Behnam Monastery is a remarkable religious and historical landmark that holds a wealth of fascinating stories and intriguing facts. Situated in the Nineveh Plains of Iraq, this ancient Syriac Orthodox monastery has withstood the test of time and remains a symbol of faith and resilience.

In this article, we will unveil 15 astonishing facts about Mar Behnam Monastery, shedding light on its rich history, architectural marvels, religious significance, and cultural importance. From its origins as a sacred resting place to its enduring legacy as a pilgrimage site, this monastery has a captivating tale to tell.

So, buckle up and get ready to embark on a journey through time and uncover some lesser-known details about this enchanting landmark. Whether you are a history enthusiast, a religious traveler, or simply curious about the world’s wonders, these astonishing facts about Mar Behnam Monastery are sure to leave you in awe.

Key Takeaways:

  • Mar Behnam Monastery is a historic gem in Iraq, offering sanctuary, healing, and a testament to resilience, blending architectural styles and fostering interfaith harmony.
  • This ancient monastery, named after a martyred prince, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, attracting pilgrims and scholars while standing as a beacon of hope for the future.
Table of Contents

A Historical Gem Nestled in the Heart of Iraq

The Mar Behnam Monastery, located in the Nineveh Plains of Iraq, is a remarkable testament to centuries of history and religious devotion.

Distinguished by its Ancient Origins

The monastery dates back to the 4th century, making it one of the oldest Christian monastic sites in the region.

Named After a Martyred Prince

Mar Behnam Monastery is named after Prince Behnam, a noble convert to Christianity who was tragically executed for his faith in the 4th century.

Architectural Marvels Abound

The monastery boasts remarkable architectural features, including beautiful stone carvings, intricate frescoes, and ornate details that reflect the rich cultural heritage of the area.

A Sanctuary in Turbulent Times

Throughout its history, the Mar Behnam Monastery has provided a sanctuary for Christian communities, offering solace and protection during periods of unrest and persecution.

A Hub of Learning and Spirituality

The monastery has long been a center for theological studies, attracting scholars from near and far who come to deepen their understanding of Christian teachings and traditions.

A Unique Blend of Architectural Styles

The monastery’s architecture reflects influences from various periods, blending elements of ancient Mesopotamian, Byzantine, and Assyrian styles into a harmonious ensemble.

The Miraculous Healing Powers of the Monastery

Legend has it that the Mar Behnam Monastery possesses healing powers, attracting pilgrims seeking solace and physical healing from ailments.

A Testament to Resilience

Despite enduring centuries of conflict and destruction, the monastery has been rebuilt multiple times, demonstrating the resilience of the community and their commitment to preserving their heritage.

The Hidden Treasure of Mar Behnam

The monastery houses a hidden treasure, the precious relics of Behnam and his sister Sarah, offering visitors a glimpse into their extraordinary lives and the enduring power of faith.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site

In recognition of its cultural and historical significance, the Mar Behnam Monastery was included in the Tentative List of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

A Pilgrimage Site for Many

The Mar Behnam Monastery holds great importance for Christians, with many embarking on pilgrimages to pay homage to the saint and seek spiritual enlightenment.

The Monastery’s Iconic Bell Tower

The bell tower, an iconic feature of the Mar Behnam Monastery, not only serves as a call to prayer but also stands as a symbol of hope and resilience.

A Testament to Interfaith Harmony

The monastery has long been a place where people of different faiths can come together in peace, fostering dialogue and understanding among diverse religious communities.

A Beacon of Hope for the Future

The Mar Behnam Monastery stands as a symbol of hope, resilience, and the enduring power of faith, inspiring future generations to cherish their cultural heritage and promote religious tolerance.


In conclusion, the Mar Behnam Monastery is a truly remarkable landmark with a rich history and architectural beauty. From its origins as a Christian monastery to its present-day status as a tourist attraction, the monastery has stood the test of time and continues to captivate visitors from all around the world. Its unique blend of Assyrian and Islamic influences, stunning frescoes, and peaceful atmosphere make it a must-visit destination for anyone interested in history, culture, and spirituality. Whether you are a religious pilgrim or a curious traveler, a visit to the Mar Behnam Monastery will undoubtedly leave you in awe of its grandeur and significance.


1. When was Mar Behnam Monastery built?

The Mar Behnam Monastery was built during the 4th century AD.

2. Is the monastery still functioning as a religious site?

No, the Mar Behnam Monastery is no longer an active religious site. It is now primarily a tourist attraction and historical monument.

3. Can visitors enter the monastery?

Yes, visitors are allowed to enter the Mar Behnam Monastery. However, certain areas may be restricted for preservation purposes.

4. Are there any guided tours available?

Yes, guided tours are available at the monastery. These tours provide valuable insights into the history and significance of the site.

5. Is there an admission fee to visit the monastery?

Yes, there is a small admission fee to enter the Mar Behnam Monastery. The fee helps with the maintenance and preservation of the site.

Mar Behnam Monastery is a treasure trove of history, architecture, and spirituality. Its ancient origins, ornate designs, and fascinating legends make it a must-visit destination for anyone interested in cultural heritage. If you enjoyed learning about this remarkable monastery, why not explore more captivating facts about other historical sites and traditions? Discover the enchanting world of monasticism at the Monastery of Saint Anthony, or immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of the Mountain Heritage Festival. Each offers a unique glimpse into the rich tapestry of human culture and creativity.

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