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المدن المنسية

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 …

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 …

Qalaat Kaluta
قلعة كالوتا

Overlooking the village of Kaluta (كالوتا) to the east is the impressive Byzantine church complex referred to as Qalaat Kaluta (قلعة كالوتا). One of the largest churches in the region of Jebel Samaan (جبل سمعان), the building was apparently fortified during a later period, hence the Arabic name describing it as a castle. The church is relatively well preserved, with most of the exterior walls …

Serqaniya
سرقانيا

Serqaniya (سرقانيا) is a moderately sized Byzantine-era settlement that features the remains of two churches and several villas and underground tombs. Situated in a small and fertile valley, it is one of the more charming sites in the Jebel Samaan (جبل سمعان) region, particularly in the spring. The ruins are just a short walk south of the neighboring Kurdish village of Fafertin (فافرتين), and the …

Qatura
قاطورة

The small village of Qatura (قاطورة), on the northern side of Jebel Sheikh Barakat (جبل الشيخ بركات), has an interesting collection of late Roman and Byzantine remains. Most noteworthy are the numerous rock-cut tombs to the west of the village. These date variously from between 122 and 250 AD and are similar in style to classical funerary art, with some slight Palmyrene influences. They are …

Taqla
تقلا

Just a short hike up a hillside opposite Qalaat Samaan (قلعة سمعان) is the small Byzantine site of Taqla (تقلا). This settlement was constructed in the mid-fifth century around a small church, the western facade of which represents the only decently preserved structure surviving today. The plan of the church was typical of the columned basilicas of the mid-fifth century, with the apse flanked by …