Currently browsing category

Aleppo Region

Qalaat Samaan
قلعة سمعان

The most impressive archaeological site in the countryside of Aleppo (حلب) is the remarkable Byzantine religious complex known today as Qalaat Samaan (قلعة سمعان). Constructed between 476 and 491, this monumental church was dedicated to Saint Simeon Stylites. It was on this hilltop that the ascetic spent nearly forty years living atop a stone pillar, devoting himself to religious observance and preaching to those who …

Ain Dara
عين دارة

The fascinating temple of Ain Dara (عين دارة), located northwest of Aleppo (حلب) near the Kurdish town of Afrin (عفرين), is an incredible example of religious architecture from the Hittite period. The temple, constructed on a hill overlooking the Afrin River valley, is one of the best preserved of the Hittite sites in Syria. While the remains are modest in scale, the architectural style is …

al-Nabi Houri
النبي هوري

Perhaps the most expansive of the Roman and Byzantine sites in the countryside of Aleppo (حلب) are the remains located at al-Nabi Houri (النبي هوري). Seldom visited due to its remote location, the site contains extensive remains of a once significant ancient city. These remains include an impressive Roman theater and tower tomb as well as two bridges that remain in use today. There are …

Qalaat Najm
قلعة نجم

Qalaat Najm (قلعة نجم) is an impressive fortress located on the west bank of the Euphrates River east of Aleppo (حلب). The castle is known from Arabic texts to date back to at least the 7th century, possibly constructed over earlier Roman-era fortifications. Nur al-Din Mahmoud Zenki (نور الدين محمود زنكي), who ruled from 1146 through 1174, was responsible for reconstructing the earlier fortress at …

al-Aisa/Qinnasrin
العيسى/قنسرين

Qinnasrin (قنسرين), located in the modern village of al-Aisa (العيسى), is the site of the ancient Chalcis ad Belum. This was an important city during the Roman period, more centrally located than Aleppo (حلب), and a major transportation hub. Ancient roads connected Chalcis ad Belum with other Roman cities throughout the region. The hilltop location also provided commanding views over the surrounding countryside. While very …

Deir Samaan
دير سمعان

Deir Samaan (دير سمعان) is one of the most noteworthy Byzantine sites in the region, but is surprisingly overlooked by many visiting tourists. As neighboring Qalaat Samaan (قلعة سمعان) developed into a major center of pilgrimage, it was this town that provided services to those pilgrims, including accommodation. The village includes several inns, churches, monasteries and other buildings, many of which survive remarkably well preserved. …

al-Mushabak
المشبك

The Byzantine church at al-Mushabak (المشبك) was described by archaeologist Howard Crosby Butler as “one of the most perfectly preserved of all the basilica churches of Northern Syria” during his surveys in the early 1900s. This remains true today, the church having survived another century without any significant damage. The basilica was originally constructed in the third quarter of the fifth century, at the same …

Sheikh Suleiman
شيخ سليمان

Sheikh Suleiman (شيخ سليمان) is one of the more impressive the Byzantine-era sites in the western countryside of Aleppo (حلب). Located in a relatively fertile patch of land in Jebel Samaan (جبل سمعان), the surviving ruins are surrounded by trees and other vegetation. The natural scene provides the site with additional charm, though it is being threatened by a slowly encroaching modern village. There are …

Sinkhar
سنخار

Sinkhar (سنخار) was a fairly extensive Byzantine settlement in the southeastern reaches of Jebel Samaan (جبل سمعان). While the state of preservation of the site is generally poor, one particular building is in remarkable condition. The sixth century chapel, originally attached to the southeastern façade of the much larger fourth century church, remains exceptionally well preserved. The chapel features detailed stone carved decoration, both around …

Kaluta
كالوتا

The village of Kaluta (كالوتا) has an impressive collection of Byzantine remains which include numerous churches and several villas. Although a modern village has been established at the site, it does remain relatively well preserved with the most important church (on the eastern end of the site) undisturbed. The village, as well as the church complex of Qalaat Kaluta (قلعة كالوتا) overlooking it to the …