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Stunning Syria - Geoff and Liz Barratt

Blog post   •   Nov 25, 2010 11:15 GMT

2010

Syria – October 2010 (This tour is no longer available)

There are so many wonderful sites in Syria so it is a job to choose one which stands out. It could have been 

The almost intact

1Roman Theatre at Bosra
2The ancient city of Apamea
3Krak des Chevaliers said by Lawrence of Arabia to be the finest crusader castle in the world.
4The Norias /giant waterwheels/ at Hama
Magical Palmyra
56
7I have chosen St Simeon’s Basilica as my highlight.St Simeon born in AD 389, son of a farmer, joined a monastery at the age of 16. He wished to detach himself from the world and with the permission of the community, to lead a life of solitude and meditation on a hill where the church now stands.
8When large numbers of pilgrims flocked to the site, attracted by his reputation of extreme piety, he was prompted to stand on a pillar 3 metres high, which later was raised to 18 metres high. He stood on top of this pillar for 36 years having food delivered once a week by his disciples. He refused to look or speak to women and spurned even his own mother. After he died the church complex was built around the pillar and at one time it was considered the most important church in the world.
9The pillar has been reduced to a stump due to souvenir hunters over the centuries.
On a beautiful November day we left our coach to walk the rocky Pilgrims Way. The wild and beautiful countryside was deserted apart from the ruins of the buildings used by pilgrims in the past. We could see the Basilica in the distance, as we snaked along the trail. The only sound being the call to prayer from distant Imans echoing around the valley.
We climbed the steep hill to the Basilica where we had the site almost to ourselves. It is such a beautiful, sacred and atmospheric place and it was easy to let your imagination run away with you. The feat of St Simeon and St Simeon’s Basilica is something and somewhere I will always remember.

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