Syrian kids wanted to be photographed in that same cloudy day.
Monthly Archives: September 2006
Not far from Aleppo, to north-east by around 100km, an ancient citadel-castle stands for its beauty to compete with the not less majestic waters of Euphrates.
Since the Hamdani dynasty who ruled Aleppo in 900-ies, it became famous as a stronghold for the king then.
The castle is 95m long and 64m wide, and at 27m attitude from Euphrates now (it was 68m before) due to building of a dam nearby south to it.
The name Euphrates may have originated from Old Persian Ufratu, as it were from Avestan *hu-perethuua, meaning “good to cross over” (from hu-, meaning “good”, and peretu, meaning “ford”).
The river is approximately 2,780 kilometers (1,730 miles) long. It is formed by the union of two branches, the Kara (the western Euphrates), which rises in the Armenian highlands of today’s eastern Turkey north of Erzurum and the Murat (the eastern Euphrates), which issues from an area southwest of Mount Ararat, north of Lake Van. The upper reaches of the Euphrates flow through steep canyons and gorges, southeast across Syria, and through Iraq. The Khabur and the Balikh River join the Euphrates in eastern Syria.
The Euphrates provided the water that led to the first flowering of civilisation in Sumeria, dating from about the 4th millennium BC. Many important ancient cities were located on or near the riverside, including Mari, Sippar, Nippur, Shuruppak, Uruk, Ur and Eridu. The river valley formed the heartlands of the later empires of Babylonia and Assyria. For several centuries, the river formed the eastern limit of effective Egyptian and Roman control and western regions of the Persian Empire.
Preserved pendentive of the churchThe complex of a palace, church and barracks was erected in the mid sixth century by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I as a part of a defensive line (together with Rasafa and Halabiyya) against Persians. Its unique style, “imported” directly from Constantinople and not found anywhere else in the present day Syria, was probably chosen to impress local Beduin tribes and to consolidate control over them. Basalt was brought from somewhere far north or south from the site and marble columns and capitals are supposed to be brought from Apamea.
Nothing remains of the barracks today. The palace was probably the local governor’s residence as well. Its best preserved part is the southern façade of alternating bands of basalt black and brick yellow. There are remains of stables in the northern and a small bath complex at the eastern part of the palace with a central courtyard. Function of each room was indicated by a carved stone.
The church (square shaped with a central nave and two side aisles) is standing just west of the palace and is architecturaly similar to it, but a bit smaller. Originally it was covered by a large dome (only a pendentive remains till today) and shows an example of a Byzantine early dome building technique.
Originally three sides (only northern and southern remain) had upper floor galleries reserved for women. The fourth side is concluded by a typical Byzantine semicircular and half domed apse.
At a later date these shots from another visit to the place: