Cave of the Seven Sleepers

The Cave of the Seven Sleepers is steeped in ancient tradition and fable. It was known in ancient tales as el Rakeem. Myriad tombs with ornately sculpted covers are found at the site. These surround a quadruple-chambered underground tomb cut from bare rock. The main chamber is entered through a small opening, from which lead off four other chambers with arched caverns. Inside the western and eastern chambers there are eight sarcophagi cut from the rock. A shaft cuts through the roof which allows light and air to come through. At one time this cut led into a Byzantine church which was directly above.

The legend surrounding the cave is told in the Qur'an in Sura 18. The tale tells of seven Christian boys who, coerced by the pagan Roman empirical leader, were sentenced to death unless recanted their Christian beliefs. The boys refused and ran into the caves. The caves were shut tight and the boys and their dog went into a deep slumber for somewhere between 3 and 30 decades. The boys eventually woke up and found themselves in the Byzantine period. It makes for a good story.