Although Aleppo has a lot to offer for the visitor, a visit to the ruins of the Saint Simeon basilica is a must. It can be reached in less than an hour, and the place is great. Not only are the ruins preserved quite well, but you find yourself also right on top of the hill on which it was built. This means you get a perfect view over the surrounding plains. The wind blowing through the pine trees give the place a great tranquillity. Their pleasant smell give it a special finishing. But this is more than a nice spot to visit, it is also a place with a history.
In the 5th century CE, shepherd Saint Simeon ended up in the land north of Aleppo. Looking for the meaning of life and following a revelation he had in a dream, he ended up in a monastery. Not satisfied, he made a pillar and sat on top of it. Every few years, he made a newer, higher pillar, until sitting for years on a 15 metre high pillar on which he eventually died, after having spent some 36 years on top of pillars. By this time, he had become a famous person and drew pilgrims from as far away as northern Europe.
After his death, a basilica was constructed with the last and highest pillar at the centre. It had the shape of a cross, which can still easily be seen when walking through the ruins. At the time, it was the largest basilica in the world. Outside the basilica, an inn was built to house the pilgrims that continued to come. The basilica is in ruins now, although many walls are still standing thanks to an ingenuous construction protecting it against earth quakes. Later, the hill became a fortification, taking advantage of its strategical location, commanding its surroundings.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Saint Simeon (Syria). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Saint Simeon. Read more about this site.