Shrine of Raban Boya • مەزاری ربن بۆیا • مزار ربن بویا
There is almost no historical information on this shrine. However, it is said to have been a hermitage for a monk named Raban Boya and that it dates to the 4th CENT. The views are gorgeous.
The ancient Shrine of Raban Boya is nestled into Safeen Mountain overlooking Shaqlawa. It consists now of a church, graveyard, and trail complex that culminates at the actual ێەشکەفتی ربان بۆیاکهف مزار ربان بویا Raban Boya cave, which was settled as a monastery or hermitage. To get to Raban Boya, you must detour from the Hamilton Road to take the main road through the Shaqlawa city center. The path begins at a well-marked spot next to the fire station and local cultural center. There is a sign for St Gorgis Shrine, but plenty of exploring did not reveal that shrine's location.
Shaqlawa has a sparse history, and even less can be said about Rabin Boya Cave. Various sources date it all the way from the 3rd to the 6th centuries, and some even declare Raban Boya was the founder of Shaqlawa. But its likely history is as a hermitage used intermittently over the past centuries by the monastic clergy of the town. With pleasant weather, good water, and abundant foraging, it seems an ideal spot to withdraw in meditation and prayer.
Aside from the hordes of pilgrims that descend on the cave especially around Easter and the Assyrian New Year, most of the time visitors can find themselves alone there. To get to Raban Boya, you must detour from the Hamilton Road to take the main road through the Shaqlawa city center. The path begins at a well-marked spot next to the fire station and local cultural center, and winds past a chapel, cemetery, and a sepulcher for Shmoun Shaqlawi. The trail gives way from asphalt to bricks to dirt and rock, before finally culminating at a stairway up the cave and ruins. Near to the cave is a deep stone-cut well which perhaps supported monks in old times. There are floral trees, and even an occasional grape vine can be found fruiting during the summer.
Unfortunately, the history of Raban Boya remains mostly lost or unwritten. Yet the cave and the trail have for centuries drawn in pilgrims, monks, tourists, and clergy alike -- whether Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or atheist. With so little known, what is the attraction? It is because there is something universal about the place, a quality that needs no written record but leaves an inedible impression: its sheer natural beauty, woven with faint echoes of history.
There are pleasant views of Shaqlawa, but being in a tight crevice in the mountain means that there are no sweeping panoramas. However, the tranquility amid lolling grasses and mossy rocks makes a nice moment.
There is no reference to the town before the 12th CENT. It is referred to by Arab historians as Shaqlabad, Shaqlabund, Shaqabad, Shaqli etc , the present name is a coinage from the old ones and it is hard to explain it due to the various morphological forms of the name. The nearest explanation, however, is a place
with abundant water and trees.
Mention of a monk in Shaqlawa.