Between the cities of Hama and Aleppo in northern Syria, lie the remnants of hundreds of Byzantine sites. The area was mysteriously left some 15 centuries ago, and it is still not clear why the area was abandoned - probably because of shifting trade routes in the Middle East. Although the Dead Cities, as this area is called, are not very well documented, and the remains are not all that obviously described in travel guides, a visit is a special experience. We were especially lucky to find very variable weather, giving the landscape a grey overtone on some moments, while giving it a sunny look the next.
After a brief visit to Al Bara, another Dead City hidden in olive plantations, which we left because the sticky, red mud sucked our shoes into the earth, we arrived at Serjilla, the most accessible Dead City. Grey clouds raced down the sky above us, and the last rain drops were still falling down as we walked down the hill of Serjilla, into the small valley. As we stopped on the ridge of the valley, we could see the enormous area, with ruins of all kinds of buildings everywhere. Quite soon, we saw sarcophagi, some with their lid open, adding to the mysterious feel of the place.
Continuing our way through the muddy streets of Serjilla, we discovered some ruins barely recognizable as houses, but also some amazingly intact buildings. One of the pleasures of visiting Serjilla is that you can take up the challenge to discover elaborate decorations and carvings in the lintels of the houses, arches, columns, low doors, and even a few houses with new inhabitants. The sun came out, giving a much better view, but when the dark grey clouds closed in on the valley, it regained its eerie atmosphere.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Serjilla (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 Serjilla. Read more about this site.