Day 5: Trip to Apamea, Serjilla, Basilica St. Simeon and Aleppo (2)

Dead Cities Travel Blog

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Dead cities

Next stop was Serjilla, one of the so-called ‘Dead Cities’. Another strange phenomenon, these dead cities. They stem from the Byzantine era (somewhere around the 5th century AD) and it is speculated that when the main Aleppo - Damascus trade route moved west these cities fell into decline and were eventually abandoned.
There are about 600 of these cities and villages in the hills between Hama and Aleppo. 600! Can you imagine? 600 ghost towns, which have been empty for 1500 years, but are still standing! Unbelievable.

Of course, most buildings are ruined, and in some cases the stones have been reused again and again to build dwellings by farmers currently living in the area. But the town we visited, Serjilla, was still remarkably intact.

Serjilla
Some minor restauration work had been done, clearing the weeds and rubble, and the general layout of the town was still very much visible.
Some buildings are still standing (albeit with collapsed roofs) and walking through the town gives a very eerie ghost town feel.

This was the first time in Syria that our visit was slightly spoilt by other tourists. A very big tour group of Italian pensioners made a very noisy visit to the site at the same time as us, diminishing the eerieness and ghostness somewhat.

But we had been incredibly lucky with other tourists so far. While I never mind meeting other travellers abroad, I do have an allergy for big your groups, especially when they come from the same country as I. But so far we had only met one Dutch couple in this country, for the rest the Dutch are remarkably absent in this country. As are the Germans… and the British… and (not entirely unsurprisingly) the Americans… The main demographic visiting this country seems to be Spanish and Italian. I found this quite surprising actually, because so far Dutch, German and British seem to be the main nationalities I meet where ever I go.

Biedjee says:
the area is dead, and I hope it stays like that. These places are best visited as day trips from Hama or Aleppo and kept without hotels and souvenir shops!
Posted on: Nov 17, 2010
aboRoma says:
hi,
imagine that this cities located about 30 km for the east of my village and I'm never been there!!!
in fact there are more than 800 city and about 2000 ancient church in the area... but unfortunate they called this cites (dead) and left it dead as you see... I think the services in the area is dead also (hotels, restaurants... etc) but still a good place to go... this cities is in Idleb governmental that was contain almost 1/3 of Syria's ancient locations...
Posted on: Nov 16, 2010
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Dead cities
Dead cities
Serjilla
Serjilla
detail of a tomb, found in Serjilla
detail of a tomb, found in Serjilla
Byzantine mansion in Serjilla
Byzantine mansion in Serjilla
Dead Cities
Dead Cities
current inhabitant of Serjilla
current inhabitant of Serjilla
Ruins in Serjilla
Ruins in Serjilla
Ruins in Serjilla
Ruins in Serjilla
Ruins in Serjilla
Ruins in Serjilla
Ruins in Serjilla
Ruins in Serjilla
Ruins in Serjilla
Ruins in Serjilla
Dead Cities
photo by: Biedjee