The Cave of the Seven Sleepers – An Often Overlooked Gem

The Cave of the Seven Sleepers is a small historical site which is somewhat off the beaten track. It is located at Kahf al-Raqim, just 10 kilometers to the east of Amman. If you travel from Amman to the Dead Sea in Jordan, you will drive past the village of Kahf al-Raqim, which actually makes The Cave of the Seven Sleepers a very convenient site to visit.

The signboard at the entrance to the Cave of the Seven Sleepers in Amman, Jordan

The signboard at the entrance to the Cave of the Seven Sleepers in Amman, Jordan.

According to the Christian and Islamic religions, the 7 Sleepers of Ephesus is a story about a few youths who wanted to flee from their pagan oppressors. In order to escape persecution, they went into hiding in a cave. Decius, who was the Roman Emperor at the time, gave the orders to close and seal the entrance to the cave.

It is said that the youths inside the cave fell into a deep sleep after praying to God for help, and only woke up 300 years later after a local land owner decided to open the entrance so that he could use the cave for his cattle.

Some historians and religious scholars believe that the Cave of the Seven Sleepers in Jordan is in fact the cave in which this event took place.

Despite its convenient location and despite the fascinating story behind the Cave of the Seven Sleepers, it is one of the least visited tourist attractions in Jordan.

The Cave of the Seven Sleepers – What’s the Story?

Entrance to the Cave of the Seven Sleepers near Amman, Jordan

Entrance to the Cave of the Seven Sleepers.

The story of the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus dates back to around 250 AD, during the reign of Roman Emperor Decius who was a pagan ruler. Under his rule, Christians and Muslims faced persecution. A group of youths then decided to flee, and went into hiding inside a cave.

Emperor Decius had learned of their whereabouts and sent someone to see if their religious views had changed. When he heard that their views had not improved, he ordered his men to seal the cave with the youths still inside.

Asleep for 300 Years

It is generally accepted and taught that those who were trapped inside the Cave of the Seven Sleepers prayed to God, and subsequently fell asleep. They then remained asleep for 300 years until the cave entrance was opened by the landowner who wanted to use the cave as a cattle pen.

When the entrance was opened, the youths awoke, not knowing how long they had been asleep for.

The group then nominated one member to sneak out in order to buy some food, and they were amazed to see symbols of Christianity everywhere. Unbeknown to them, during the 300 years which had passed, Christianity had become the state religion of the Roman Empire.

It was only when the youth tried to pay for some food with an old silver coin that their story came to light.

The Sleepers of Ephesus and Islam

According to Muslim teachings, the Jews had long since known about the Sleepers of Emphesus, while the Prophet Muhammad had never heard anything about it.

After all, Muhammad lived many hundreds of kilometers away and therefore it would have been impossible for him to have heard about the Sleepers of the Cave.

According to the Holy Qur’an, the Jews wanted to discredit the legitimacy of the Prophet Muhammad. They knew that the Arabs had never heard about the sleepers either, so they decided to challenge Muhammad by instructing non-believers to ask him who the young men were that disappeared, and how many of them were there.

Upon hearing these questions, Muhammad told them that he knew nothing of it, but said he would give them an answer the following day after he gets an answer from Gabriel (Jabril). When Gabriel spoke to Muhammad, he told Muhammad the full story.

When Muhammad later told the story to the non-believers, the Jews were amazed that his story was exactly the same as the story they knew.

However, Muhammad never told them how many sleepers there were, and when the Jews asked, he replied: Some will tell you there were 3 and 1 dog; others will tell you there were 5 and 1 dog, while others will tell you that there were 7 and 1 dog. This is exactly the same as the Jews had known.

Visiting the Cave of the Seven Sleepers

As mentioned at the top of the page, the Cave of the Seven Sleepers is located near a small village, just 10 kilometers to the East of Amman. Its close proximity to Amman makes it a very convenient site to visit.

This is particularly true if you are going to be heading to the Dead Sea from Amman because you will essentially be driving past the village on your way there.

The Cave of the Seven Sleepers is typically open to visitors every day and there is no admission fee. It is however worth noting that there is no road access to the cave, so you will have to cover a short distance on foot.

The ground is also quite rough so comfortable footwear suitable for walking is highly recommended.

Notes and Final Conclusion

While some day trips in and around Amman might include a visit to the Cave of the Seven Sleepers, it is generally not featured in our Jordan tour packages or in our classic Egypt and Jordan tour packages.

However, because all our tour packages are fully customizable, a visit to this site can be added to almost any one of our tour itineraries if need be.

The Cave of the Seven Sleepers is a wonderful site to visit, and especially if you enjoy visiting ancient sites which are off the beaten track. A visit to the site shouldn’t require more than about one hour of your time, and it certainly provides some amazing photo opportunities.

Remember, even if this site is not featured in your preferred tour package, we can always add it for you.