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بيزنطي

Damascus – Umayyad Mosque
دمشق – الجامع الاموي

The most important monument in Damascus (دمشق), and perhaps the entire country, is the magnificent Umayyad Mosque (الجامع الاموي). No single historic site symbolizes the rich and varied cultural heritage of Syria as does this remarkable mosque. It has served as a place of worship continuously for several millennia, a holy place for over a thousand years even prior to the arrival of Islam. While …

Damascus – Church of Saint Hananiya
دمشق – كنيسة القديس حنانيا

One of the more interesting churches in Damascus (دمشق) is the small underground chapel known as the Church of Saint Hananiya (كنيسة القديس حنانيا) in the old city neighborhood of Bab Sharqi (باب شرقي). According to local tradition, the church was originally part of the Roman-era home of Hananiya (also known as Ananias). While it is roughly five meters below ground level today, this was …

al-Rasafeh
الرصافة

The ruined Byzantine city of Sergiopolis, known today as al-Rasafeh (الرصافة), is one of the most spectacular historic sites in eastern Syria and bound to impress just about anyone who visits. Few tourists reach this remote place, which makes the journey all that much more rewarding: you might very well have the entire site to yourself. The remains are massive in scale and stunning in detail, …

Deir al-Salib
دير الصليب

The remains of two Byzantine churches are located on opposite ends of this small Alawite village near Masyaf (مصياف). The western church, the first as you approach Deir al-Salib (دير الصليب), is in a far greater state of preservation and is well worth a visit if you’re in the area. It is very lightly decorated, but the scale is impressive and the setting is beautiful, particularly …

Qasr Ibn Wardan
قصر ابن وردان

Qasr Ibn Wardan (قصر ابن وردان) is a fascinating Byzantine church and palace complex located at the edge of the desert to the northeast of Hama (حماة). Built during the reign of Justinian and completed in 564, the site supplemented other Byzantine fortifications such as Halabiyeh (حلبية) and al-Rasafeh (الرصافة) in defense of the Persians to the east. The approach here was far more elegant in design, with …

al-Andarin
الاندرين

The remote Byzantine site of al-Andarin (الاندرين) is spread over a vast area at the edges of the semi-desert, about twenty-five kilometers beyond the more well-known Byzantine site of Qasr Ibn Wardan (قصر ابن وردان). Once a massive settlement, much of the site remains unexcavated, but it is nonetheless a fascinating place to explore. The site is perhaps most impressive for the surreal setting, with …

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 …

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 …

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. …