Serjilla and Al-Bara

Dead Cities Travel Blog

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People i met here who contributed to, and improved my trip: Julia (Russia), Jan (Germany), Dmitri and Anastasia (Russia)

On Saturday we caught a minivan from Yahya's house to the centre of Aleppo and met up with Jan, Dmitri and Anastasia at their hostel and then went to get a falafel, before heading to the Dead Cities. Located South West of Aleppo, it took about an hour and a half to reach the remains of Serjilla, which had flourished under the Byzantines. Lousy Planet had obviously said that visiting by public transport was too hard and that taking an expensive tour was the best option, but with Yahya's notes on how to get there, it was a piece of cake.

When i originally read about the Dead Cities, i had envisaged some crumbling mud brick buildings and thought that they may be of mild interest, but certainly nothing of any great significance. On the road to Serjilla we passed several stone buildings that were in good shape, and i was surprised that these weren't the main draw card, as they looked pretty cool. However when we pulled up to Serjilla, it was clear why we hadn't stopped at what now looked like some insignificant structures, as we were now faced by a sprawling stone City.

It took us a couple of hours to pick our way through the buildings, which included a Church, a temple, baths and a nobles residence. It was mind boggling to think that the site had been deserted for 1500 years, as the edifices were in great condition and had clearly stood the test of time. Some local farmers who were collecting mushrooms with a  shotgun (peculiar, huh!) approached us and chatted to Jan in Arabic, then showed us some cool remains that we would otherwise have missed.
Before leaving a ticket collector came to ask us for some money, but he didn't have any change, so took a small amount of cash and handed out a couple of student tickets, pocketing the rest of the money. Normally it would be 150SYP ($3) for adults and 10SYP ($0.20) for students, which is great value.

Next stop was Al-Bara and getting there from Serjilla proved to be easier than expected, as a guy let us pile into the back of his small van for the 5 minute drive. The remains of this City were not quite as in tact as Serjilla, but were nevertheless impressive. There was a pyramidal burial chamber, which had sarcophagi inside and also a nice Church to explore. It was quite hard to walk around these ruins though, as the ground was really muddy and by the time we got back to the asphalt road, it felt like i was walking with lead boots on.

We weren't sure how to get back to the main town from Al-Bara, from where we could catch a minivan to Aleppo, but we needn't have worried.
Two guys going the opposite way to us stopped and offered us a lift, and somehow we crammed seven into the car. The driver was a young lad, who was clearly doing his best to impersonate a racing car driver, and by the time we arrived Julia was on the verge of vomiting and i can't say that i felt much better. It was no problem catching a minivan back to Aleppo, concluding a very enjoyable trip to one of Syria's star attractions.

almond72 says:
Don't you wish your home was built like them. At least there will be something to leave to your grandkids other than rubble.
Posted on: Oct 04, 2009
Deats says:
Yeah, its a fantastic place. I will get the photos online hopefully in a few weeks when i stay at Julia's. I really HATE some drivers, they put your life at risk for nothing!
Posted on: Jun 12, 2009
sylviandavid says:
Sounds so neat to see this city.... Looking forward to the pictures.... Julia and I need to learn to say in 150 languages: "drive sane or I will barf on you!" I have the same car sick problem. How great that Jan spoke Arabic... Be Safe! Sylvia
Posted on: Jun 12, 2009
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Dead Cities
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