"The Ruined Basilica Of St. Simeon..." Muhafazat Halab by coceng

Muhafazat Halab Travel Guide: 845 reviews and 2,106 photos

10th April 2005 ( Sunday )
I made the excursion to Qala'at Samaan from Aleppo.
Most people do this excursion with a tour guide but we could go there on our own by public transports. You just need a bit of hardwork, I guess.
At least it's possible !
In this way, we get to interact with the locals & it depends whether you want this or not when you travel !
Sure, tour guides are also local people but they work for the so-called tourism; Why not reaching places not by/with tour guides ?
From Aleppo, I asked some local people on to get to Qala'at Samaan or also known as :
St. Simeon Basilica
Nobody could understand me until I showed the name of the place from my guidebook.
A guy suggested that I should take a taxi, I said not enough money.
Another guy said that i should go to a garage ( a small station for the service taxis ) & I could get some transports there to Qala'at Samaan.
I asked him to write on a piece of paper & using that paper, I managed to find the garage.
First, I had to reach a village called Darret Azze...


This is rather a ruin of The Basilica of St. Simeon.
St. Simeon was the son of a shepherd who chose his life to be in the monastery.
He was actually seeking a revelation that he had from a dream...
He then retreated to a cave where he lived on his own !
People began to seek his blessing; He didn't like it so he erected a 3 meter high pillar so that he could get away from the people.
Along the years, he erected the pillar higher & higher...
It's told that he's spent nearly 40 years of his life 'up' there !
The last height was at 18 meters !
He would preach daily from his perch...& people from far came to hear him.
Weirdly, he refused to talk to women; Even his mother was not allowed to be near his coloumn/pillar.
He died in AD 459. His body was buried in Antakya, Turkey.
So, an anormous church was built around the pillar.
This church was completed in AD 490 & it took 14 years & at that time it was the largest church in the world !
Simeon's traditional feast day is January 5 every year.
He converted many nonbelievers to Christianity and had numerous disciples called Stylites.

When The Islams came to Syria, they built a fortress (hence the word Qala'at) around the church.
The church then was never used again as a place of worship...
NOW, this church is remarkably well-preserved !
Although, since ancient times, people have been coming here to chip away the pillar as a souvenir of their pilgrimage !
The view from here is amazing !
Most people make Aleppo as their base to see Qala'at Samaan.
From Aleppo, there are day trips organized by many hotels but if you want to be more adventurous (like me !), take the service taxi from Aleppo, then go to Darret Azze, about 50 minutes from Aleppo, 60 km away.
From there, you have to negotiate a service taxi to reach the site.
Plus waiting time, expect to pay less than 10 USD...plus waiting time.
Allow yourself 2 hours or so.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:An Interesting Basilica; Scenic Views From It...
  • Cons:No Public Transport To Reach Here...
  • In a nutshell:A Good Day Trip From Aleppo...
  • Last visit to Muhafazat Halab: Apr 2005
  • Intro Updated Jul 13, 2005
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