The narrow rock defile north of Maaloula is called by the local inhabitants the siq and (not entirely seriously) compared with the defile at Petra in Jordan. This part of the town and the high ground above and around the town was used for Roman and Late Antique burials.
This is a view of the distinctive houses of Maaloula that are built on top of each other terraced into the steep-sided valley in which the town is located.
The Church of St. Thecla today is a modern convent and orphanage for young girls run by Rum Orthodox nuns, as with the convent at Saydnaya. The shrine is believed by local people to be the place that the rocks opened to receive St. Thecla as she fled an attempted rape. The story is known from the early Christian text called The Acts of Paul and Thecla and most people locate these events in Asia Minor, but there is a long-standing Syrian tradition of placing these events in Maaloula.