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 remains of three churches, two of them fairly well preserved, and a large tower at the northern end of the settlement.

As you approach the site from the south, the Church of the Virgin is visible on a hilltop to the left. It was constructed in the late fifth century, and archaeologist Howard Crosby Butler described it as one of the most beautiful churches in northern Syria. The richly decorated apse on the eastern side of the building remains well preserved, as does the colonnaded porch entrance on the western side. The church’s portico features beautifully detailed carved stonework. Just west of the church, separated by an atrium, is another well preserved building, possibly the priest’s residence.

About one hundred meters to the northwest is a church dated by inscription to 602, making it one of the latest Byzantine churches in the region. The design follows a basilica plan, with piers separating the nave from side aisles. The apse and lower levels of the walls remain intact. Remains of several other domestic and religious buildings are scattered to the northeast, the most impressive of which is the tall monastic tower.

 

Getting There: Sheikh Suleiman (شيخ سليمان) is roughly three kilometers north of the road connecting Aleppo (حلب) to Darat Azeh (دارة عزة). Any microbus heading from Aleppo (حلب) towards Darat Azeh (دارة عزة) could drop you off at the intersection for Sheikh Suleiman (شيخ سليمان), but the remaining three kilometers would need to be covered by hitchhiking or on foot.

Coordinates: 36°16’24.00″N / 36°54’36.00″E

Transliteration Variants: Sheikh Soleiman

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