Monday, June 27, 2005

The Cathedral of St. Simeon Stylites


The most beautiful and significant monument to religious building between Roman period of the 2nd century and northern European Christian masterpieces of the 11th century AD. At the time it was completed in 473 AD, it was considered the largest Cathedral in the world.

Situated on a hill top overlooking the town of Deir Samaan in the 'Afrin Valley, 60 km north west of Aleppo.
Following the death of the Syrian Hermit Saint Simeon (Sam'an) the Stylite in 459, Emperor Zenon ordered that a cathedral be built where the saint used to pray.

The layout was original, centering on the famous column from which St. Simeon used to preach. Four basilicas, arranged in the shape of a Greek cross (it was also called the four-basilica church), opened into an octagon covered by a dome, in the center of which stood the holy column.

The east basilica is slightly larger than the others; it was the most important and held all the major ceremonies. Adjacent to the south wall of the eastern basilica is the chapel and the monastery. Opposite the southern basilica along the sacred road called the via sacra is the baptistery, which was built a little after the main church but is an important part of the pilgrimage complex. To the west of the baptistery is the processional route that leads towards Deir Samaan.

Deir Samaan first had the name of Telanissos and was founded to capitalize on the two fertile plains that surrounded it. In the 5th century AD, the community built a monastery there and in 412 St. Simeon came to join it. He later left the community to live alone in the hill above it. The best vestiges seen in Deir Samaan are the monumental arch that is at the beginning of the via sacra which leads to the cathedral on the hill. There are two monasteries, a bazaar, a few small dwellings, and a tomb chapel.

The remaining stump of what is reported to be the very pillar that supported the saint for all those years, greatly reduced today by the numerous pilgrims who have taken pieces away as holy relics.

More Pictures here

13 Comments:

Blogger Steliano Ponticos said...

Rami I am still stunned by the unique architecture..like you said its not byzantine and not gothic..its a whole different and unique style..I hope it is a U.N. international heritage becuase I am pretty sure its the only such church in the world. Not to speak of its spiritual value.

June 27, 2005 8:27 PM  
Blogger Steliano Ponticos said...

thanks for another great post

June 27, 2005 8:27 PM  
Blogger Ghalia said...

Great info, thanx:) and nice new look:)

June 28, 2005 8:53 PM  
Blogger Rami said...

Steliano, this style is unique to Syria...I read an article about it long time agao (i will try to find it for you)...

Ghalia, you're welcome...

June 29, 2005 7:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

great post abou ror
did you remember our first visit to st. simeon with dad? (17/4/1983 i think)
and our photo on the romane road wich it used til now.
david

June 29, 2005 11:58 AM  
Blogger Steliano Ponticos said...

rami I thought this was uniquely Syrian architecture. BTW even Byzantine architecture is very Syrian..

June 29, 2005 5:11 PM  
Blogger Oz said...

I made an article on qalaat semaan, on
http://btw-f-s.blogspot.com
i think that they sell a book, in qalaat semaan, about all its history, i guess that my mum has bought it, if some passages, are blurry, tell me if u want the information, more precisely.

July 02, 2005 4:15 PM  
Blogger Olivia said...

I saw these pictures on your photo site, but I am glad you posted them here and explained them for us. I am in awe of the stump of St Simeon's pillar! My modern mind cannot begin to understand how he lived immobile on a pillar for 36 years. (It was hard enough for us to watch David Blaine living in a glass box in London for a month.)

July 05, 2005 1:07 PM  
Anonymous Church said...

The Cathedral of St. Simeon Stylites is a fun title to find. It just amused me when I came across it on my search
for Christian in these blogs. Amazing what you can find and where you end up.

November 26, 2005 7:33 AM  
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