Syria: Tartus, Krak des Chevaliers, Qalat Marqab, Serjilla, Christian Valley, Bosra, Maalula
pictures of the World: Syria: Tartus, Krak des Chevaliers, Qalat Marqab, Serjilla, Christian Valley, Bosra, Maalula
Tartus, Tartous, Tortusa
Tartus (Tartous, Tortusa) is the second most important Syria seaport on the Mediterranean ( 90 km to the south of Latakia ) . It was called Antaradus by the Phoenicians and Tortusa by the Byzantines . Tortusa was to become one of the main supply spots for the Crusaders and a military base of considerable importance . It was held by the templares, recovered by Saldin in 1188. The arches , wall-towers and narrow lanes in Tartus evoke what the town must have been like in medieval times . A jewel of Romanesque art is the cathedral of Tartus , which is now a museum containing relics from various Syria civilizations.
Krak des Chevaliers, Qalaat al-Hosn, Fortress of Knights
Krak des Chevaliers
Krak des Chevaliers is a Crusader castle in Syria, one of the most important preserved medieval military castles in the world. In Arabic, the fortress is called Qalaat al-Hosn. The word Krak coming from the Syriac karak, means fortress. It is located approximately 40 km west of the city of Homs, close to the border of Lebanon.
The original castle was built in 1031 for the emir of Aleppo. During the First Crusade in 1099 it was captured by Raymond IV of Toulouse, but then abandoned when the Crusaders continued their march towards Jerusalem. It was reoccupied again by Tancred, Prince of Galilee in 1110. The early castle was very different to the extant remains. It originally consisted of a single enclosure, coterminous with the inner ward (fortified enclosure) of the present castle. In 1142 it was given by Raymond II, count of Tripoli, to the Knights Hospitaller. It remained in their possession until it fell in 1271.
In 1163 the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Nur ad-Din Zengi, after which the Hospitallers became an essentially independent force on the Tripolitanian frontier. By 1170 the Hospitallers' modifications were complete. In the late 12th and early 13th century numerous earthquakes caused some damage and required further rebuilding.
In 1217, during the Fifth Crusade, king Andrew II of Hungary strengthened the outer walls and financed the guarding troops. In 1271 the fortress was captured by Mamluk Sultan Beybar (Baibars) on April 8 with the aid of heavy trebuchets and mangonels, at least one of which was later used to attack Acre in 1291. However, to conquer the castle, Baibars used a trick, by presenting a forged letter from the Crusader Commander in Tripoli, ordering the defenders to surrender the castle. Otherwise, this immensely strong castle would probably never have fallen. Baibars refortified the castle and used it as a base against Tripoli. He also converted the Hospitaller chapel to a mosque
Marqarb is Syria's 3rd most impressive castle after Crac des Chevaliers and Qalat Saladin. Marqarb gives a slightly evil impression due to the fact that it is built of black basalt rock. Marqarb was a Muslim stronghold and was possibly founded as early as 1062. In the 12th century the castle was passed to the Crusaders and with this became a part of the Principality of Antioch. In 1168, Marqarb was sold to the Knights of Hopsitaller who strengthened and better designed the castle allowing it to stand up to 2 major assaults in the 13th century.
Marqarb fell in 1285 to the Mamlukes after Mamluke Sultan Qalaun and his soldiers dug under the castle foundations and set fire to all the supporting beams bringing the castle foundations down. The Mamlukes repaired the castle and continued to use it until they lost power to the Ottomans who used Marqarb as a prison.
Serjilla is one of the best preserved of the Dead Cities in northwestern Syria. It is located in the Jebel Riha, approx. 65 km north from Hama and approx. 80 km southwest from Aleppo, very close to ruins of another "dead city" of Bara. A bath complex indicates the wealth of the community. Unusually, it was built in 473, already during the time of Christianity. In 1899 an archeological team from the Princeton University discovered a large mosaic on the main hall floor but it had disappeared when the team returned six years later.
They're remarkable remnants of Byzantine farming villages that flourished in the 4th and 5th centuries. Although they are ruins, the "dead cities," as they're often called, are not piles of rock or relics that require you to stretch your imagination. Many are remarkably intact. In some areas, pomegranate and fig trees grow in and around the buildings. Some of the villages have a ghostlike quality, as if they were abruptly abandoned and then slowly crumbled into the landscape.
One season the Byzantines could come in, and in the next season the Umayyads would attack. It was almost like annual training exercises. Byzantine farmers and their families were caught in the middle. The majority likely were forced to eventually migrate back to Byzantium proper. The villages slowly dwindled in size and importance. Drought and rising temperatures, it is believed, made the once-fertile area undesirable. Maybe that's why we have complete houses still standing, people left, and there was just no attraction anymore to come to the area.
A visit to the dead cities is not for everyone. You'll have to make your way around some fallen walls and rock piles, and through some underbrush. Be careful. Small children, the elderly and people with disabilities may have trouble accessing some areas. Serjilla (Sarjella) has been deserted for almost 1500 years, but its stone buildings remain sharp-edged and the surrounding area is carpeted in short grass. In many ways it looks as if the villagers have only just left.
Honeycomb typical structure in old Syria
St. Georges Monastery (Gregos), Christian Valley, Syria
St. Georges Monastery, Christian Valley, Syria
Saint George Monastery of Homeyra (Gregos, Deir Mar Jirjis) is a historic Antiochian Orthodox monastery located in northwestern Syria's "Valley of the Christians" (Wadi al-Nasara) in the town of Meshtaye, between Homs and Tripoli.
It is said that the monastery was built over remains of an ancient statue of the god Homerus by the Byzantine emperor Justinian I sometime in the 5th century. The monastery occupies a 6,000 m² land and was built entirely from Byzantine styled stone. The modern church was rebuilt in 1857.
A historical big stone with religious carvings can be found in the monastery's southern gate. The wooden iconostasis found inside the church are decorated with impressive carvings and are magnificent presentations of art, its gold painted icons.
The name of the monastery "Homeyra" is probably related to an ancient village which bore this name in regard to the god of rain among the primitive peoples. Some scholars say that the word "Homeyra" derives from the Greek "Homyros" which means the "torrent" and we know that, during winter, the region is open to heavy rains and to great torrents.
Near the gate, there is a stone window used by monks to distribute bread and food to the needy and to those passing-by. On the other hand, the monks used the same window to teach the gathered people the basics of ethics and religion.
On this floor, there is a church called the "old" in regard to the new one, the third floor, this old church has a semi-circular arch and a wooden Iconostasis, accurately and strictly carved, has a group of Icons painted by an 18th century Arabic school of painting which inherited the Byzantine art, giving it a local tint. This art attracted a group of Icon admires who stole the Icon of St. George and sold it in London. Fortunately the Scotland Yard found the Icon and a few years ago, it was brought back to the monastery.
The modern third floor has a splendid church which goes back to the 19th century. The church has a magnificent wooden Iconostasis, considered one of the most important in Syria and Lebanon. It took 34 years to be carved and its Icons are painted by the Jerusalem school in the 19th century.
Bosra (Bozrah, Bostra, Busra ash-Sham, Bushra) Roman Theater
Bosra Roman Theater
Bosra (also called Bozrah or Bostra, in Arabic: Busra ash-Sham) is an ancient city 108 km south of Damascus. Once the capital of the Roman province of Arabia, Bosra was an important stopover on the ancient caravan route to Mecca.
Originally a Nabataean city, Bosra was conquered by the Roman emperor Trajan and made the capital of the Roman Province of Arabia. The city achieved the title "metropolis" under the Roman emperor Philip, who was a native of the city.
There are two important monasteries in Maaloula: Mar Sarkis and Mar Taqla. Mar Sarkis Monastery was built in the 4th century on remains of a heathen temple, designed on the model of martyries, which have a simple, plain appearance. It was named after St. Sarkis, one of Syrian horsemen who fell in the reign of king Maximanus in 297.
all pictures on this page from unknown source
created 28 April 2011
on Google site since 18 December 2012
updated 18 December 2012