Day 5: Trip to Apamea, Serjilla, Basilica St. Simeon and Aleppo (3)

Qala'at Samaan Travel Blog

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When we booked this trip we had arranged for Omar to drop us off in the city of Aleppo today, which would save us half a day travelling tomorrow. However, as we had quite a bit of daylight left (and because Omar was never too fussed about making some extra mileage in exchange for some extra dough) he offered us to drive past Qala'at Samaan, or the Basilica of St Simeon. As this place was on our itinerary anyway, as a day trip from Aleppo, we definitely liked this idea, as it would save us time *and* money.

St Simeon was a guy who lived from 392 to 459, who was in apparent need of some solitude. So he isolated himself from the community he lived in, which for some reason only caused people to come and visit him for advice.

What is left of the 18 metre high pillar
After a while he got fed up with this, and he built a three metres high stone pillar on which he sat to be left alone. This worked even more to the contrary as for the next 40 years people would come and visit him from throughout Europe for advice and blessing.
He built higher pillar, but this only drew more attention and soon he became a holy person, sitting on his 18 metre high column from which he never ascended. I believe he still holds the world record pole sitting :-)

After his dead they built a basilica around the pillar on which he spent most of his life. Part of the 1500 year old building is still left standing, beautifully situated in between olive orchards and pine forests.
There isn't much left of the pillar itself, up until 300 years after his death pilgrims visited the basilica and chiselled off pieces of the pillar as relics. So there isn't much left apart from a piece of rock on a socle, of which you could wonder whether or not this was ever a part of Simeon's pillar.

We spent a few hours wandering around the site, and just sitting in the grass enjoying the late afternoon sun and the magnificent surroundings. We are close to the Turkish border here and the landscape looks Mediterranean rather than Middle Eastern. If you'd told me this was Italy I would have believed it.

_francine_ says:
Cool sotry about the wicked Saint :)
Posted on: Feb 16, 2009
sylviandavid says:
nice story about St Simeon.... I imagine he must have done miracles or he wldn't be a saint...
Posted on: Feb 15, 2009
pms70 says:
Ok, so he never left the pillar... I'm guessing people brought food to him but what did he do for toilet breaks?
Posted on: Jan 26, 2009
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What is left of the 18 metre high …
What is left of the 18 metre high…
detail of St Simeon basilica
detail of St Simeon basilica
Basilica St Simeon
Basilica St Simeon
Basilica St Simeon
Basilica St Simeon
Basilica St Simeon
Basilica St Simeon
beautiful Basilica ruins
beautiful Basilica ruins
the surroundings of Basilica St. S…
the surroundings of Basilica St. …
part of the ruins of Basilica St. …
part of the ruins of Basilica St.…
Qala'at Samaan
photo by: Biedjee