"Matarea, site of the flight of the Holy Family" Al Matariyah by halikowski

Al Matariyah Travel Guide: 14 reviews and 41 photos

Actually, I have written an article about this place, published in the Mediterranean History Review. In the Middle Ages, this small garden was so famous that all Christian pilgrims on what Wade Labarge has called the longer pilgrimage route stopped to visit. And not just Christians, Muslim travellers from as far away as Iran came too.
The religious myth is very important, even if only apocryphal. What was also important is that Matarea was home to the balsam, a very rare and expensive oleo-resin that appears in the earliest botanicals in the West, and was key to the western liturgy but also medicine. The Sultan controlled export, and the difficulties in obtaining this product meant that balsam was shrouded in myth and marvel.

Bernardino Amico da Gallipoli's drawing of the Matarea complex, 16th century.

  • Last visit to Al Matariyah: Dec 2006
  • Intro Written Aug 17, 2008
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“`somos ciganos' (as the Portuguese cleaning-lady adrift in the New World tells me)”

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