Ancient villages of Northern Syria

Ancient villages of Northern Syria
Photo by Argo.

The Ancient villages of Northern Syria are the remains of rural societies from late Antiquity and early Christianity.

The inhabitants of this limestone mountain landscape gradually converted to Christianity. They were inspired by hermits such as Saint Simeon, who drew lots of pilgrims. Some 40 abandoned villages are included with often well-preserved monuments. Notable elements include the Church of Saint Simeon Stylites, Serjilla, an early Byzantine town, and the Pyramidal tombs at Al-Bara.

Community Perspective: this can be done as a day trip from Aleppo on private transport, it used to be quite popular under the name of “Dead Cities” with intrepid tourists. The area however has been ‘closed’ since the Syrian Civil War as it is in SDF territory.

Map of Ancient villages of Northern Syria

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Michael Novins

United States - 28-Nov-16 -

Ancient villages of Northern Syria by Michael Novins

I visited Syria largely by public transportation in May 2009. After taking a bus from Palmyra to Aleppo, with a stop in Homs, I checked into the Baron Hotel, the oldest hotel in Syria, where I stayed in room 203, the same room where Agatha Christie wrote the first part of "Murder on the Orient Express." Mr. Walid, the Baron's renowned manager, organized a car and driver for a day trip to several nearby sites, including Serjilla and al-Bara (and its Tombeaux pyramidaux), two of the Ancient Villages of Northern Syria. During that same day trip, I visited Apamea to see its Great Colonnade, the main colonnaded avenue which runs for more than a mile and is among the longest and best preserved ancient Roman streets, and Hama to see its Norias, enormous water power wheels. Apamée (Afamia) and the Noréas de Hama are on the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. For anyone interested in World Heritage Sites, there are very few days that can rival this day trip from Aleppo (itself a World Heritage Site), but it may be a long time before it can be safely repeated.

Frank Behrens

Germany and Lebanon and the rest of the world - 29-Aug-10 -

I visited Sergilla and othe villages in the reagon for 3 days from 18th till 21st August 2010. I was not aware of it's existance and I was surprised. The society, that built thiese villages roughly 1500 years back, were using skills long forgotten. Till date building fully made of rock exist.

Sergilla is also an earthquake area, still many building are standing after such a long time.

Maybe it was not the best time to travell, August is the hotest month and it was Ramadan aswell. Late fall or spring must be better.

Site Info

Full Name
Ancient villages of Northern Syria
Unesco ID
2011 - In Danger
3 4 5
Archaeological site - Near Eastern Cultural Landscape - Relict

Site History

2013 In Danger

Together with all 5 other Syrian WHS, due to Civil War

2011 Inscribed

2010 Incomplete - not examined

2010 Revision

Includes former TWHS Qal' at Sem'an (Saint-Syméon), Al Refada and L'église de Qalbe Loze (1999), Sarjaleh / Sergilla (1995, 1999), Carqabis (1995) and Sit el Roum (1995)


The site has 8 locations

Ancient villages of Northern Syria: JebelSem'an1 [Qal'atSem'an]
Ancient villages of Northern Syria: JebelSem'an2 [KafrNabo]
Ancient villages of Northern Syria: JebelSem'an3 [Sinkhar]
Ancient villages of Northern Syria: JebelZawiyé1 [Ba’uda]
Ancient villages of Northern Syria: JebelZawiyé2 [Rouweiha]
Ancient villages of Northern Syria: Jebelal-A’la [QalbLozé]
Ancient villages of Northern Syria: JebelBarisha [Deirouné]
Ancient villages of Northern Syria: JebelWastani [KafrAqareb]


The site has

Art and Architecture
Religion and Belief
World Heritage Process