Without doubt the greatest and most enduring legacy of the reign of the Emperor Justinian, the Basilica of Hagia Sophia (Divine Wisdom) is an engineering marvel and is testament to the ingenuity of the engineers who designed it.
The settlement of Baqirha had two churches. The façade of the C6th church is perfectly preserved, but the rest of the church is obscured by foliage and fallen masonry. The village is on the high plateau facing the Syrian-Turkish border to the west.
This C6th church is unusual for having a nave that is almost transverse. Although this type of floorpan is a known element of churches in the Tur Abdin region of south eastern Turkey, it is very unusual to find this design this far south.
The monastery of St. Simeon Stylites the younger was said to stand on the "miraculous mountain", possibly because it was near Mt. Cassius which was a pagan holy mountain. Even today there is an Alawite shrine further down the mountain from the ruins of the monastery. Simeon the younger was a sixth century imitator of his fifth century namesake, Simeon the elder, and a complex of buildings appears to have sprung up around his pillar even during his lifetime. In his vita there is mention of Georgian followers settling at the site and later on they appear to have run their own monastery-within-a-monastery at the site. The modern name for the ruins translates as "Simeon's mountain."
The Church of Mar Elian is believed to date back to the early fifth century and to have been founded on the site of the saint's martyrdom in 284. Elian was a local physician who was murdered by his father, a Roman officer, for his Christian faith. He is widely venerated in Syria for miracles of healing. The church was built around a late antique marble sarcophagus decorated with crosses and located in a small side apse south of the main sanctuary of the church. In the 1970s fragments of frescoes and mosaics were discovered during a renovation programme in the chamber around the tomb, and some elements of the decoration possibly date back as far as the sixth century, though most of the frescoes are twelfth century. Today the church interior boasts frescoes of the life of Mar Elian and various biblical scenes painted by two Romanian artists.
The town of Bethlehem is located to the south of Jerusalem in the West Bank. Since the second century, pilgrims have flocked to the site traditionally associated as the place of Christ’s birth, a cave to the east of the town. In the fourth century, Helena, the Emperor Constantine’s mother, supposedly rediscovered the cave and had her son build a church to commemorate it. This church featured an octagonal structure at the eastern end that was positioned directly over the cave of the Nativity. At the centre of this octagon was a wide, circular opening to allow pilgrims to glimpse at the holy site. It was badly damaged during a Samaritan revolt in 529 AD and was rebuilt by the Emperor Justinian in the mid-sixth century. Much of this church has survived and is largely what is seen today. There were later modifications during the time of the Crusades, largely with the fresco painting on the nave columns. It is thus considered the oldest church in use.
Tags: Bethlehem, C12th, C2nd, C4th, C6th, Cave, Christ, Christian, Church, Column, Constantine, Corinthian, Crusades, Fresco, Geometric Motif, Holy Site, Icon, Justinian, Mosaic, Nativity, Octagonal, Pilgrimage, St. Helena, West Bank
This church is very well preserved with the portico and a tower still extant. There is some speculation that the tower could once have been the dwelling of a hermit due to the stylite imagery on the portico and because the whole complex was constructed a short distance away from the village.
Shiomghvime means 'the caves of Shio'. Shio was one of the Thirteen (As)Syrian Fathers and he is reputed to have settled in caves to the west of Mtskheta and it is here that the monastery complex need for him is located. The buildings are of many different periods, meaning that claims that one of the churches dates back to the C6th is difficult to verify.
The church at Urbnisi is an extremely large C6th basilica. Urbnisi had one of the earliest Christian communities in Georgia which could have been linked to the fact that the town also had a significant Jewish population in antiquity.
The C6th basilica in Dmanisi has been substantially altered over time, notably with the addition of a medieval narthex, and is located beside the citadel of the now abandoned city that once stood on this site. Older elements have been reused in buildings surrounding the church and there is an Arabic inscription on one of the gravestones in the vicinity.