Holy Cross Church also referred to as Kasagh Basilica is in the town of Aparan, Aragatsotn Province. The church dates to the fourth or fifth century and was restored in 1877, as well as having evidence of more recent renovation. The basilica sits on a two-step platform, so is like Yereruyk and Zvartnots in being placed on a raised base and there is a ruined apsed structure of unclear date to the north of the building suggesting that it may have been linked to a possible side chapel in the past. The apse is a protruding polygonal structure, which is relatively unusual in early South Caucasian basilicas, which appear to most frequently terminate in a flat east end. The decoration above the windows on the south side and also in the apse is of the linear type seen at Yereruyk and also above the south entrance of the church at Tsilkani in Georgia. This Armenian variant is in some ways close to Syrian decorative motifs found on the northwest Limestone Massif, but deviates by only being present directly above and to the side of the windows, whereas in Syria they usually follow in a ribbon along the entire church exterior - see for example the entries on this site for Qalb Lozeh and Qal'at Sem'an.
These images of Qal'at Seman were taken in December 1992
These images of Qal'at Seman, the famous shrine of St. Symeon Stylites the Elder on Jebel Seman are valuable because they are taken midway between the French restoration of the site in the 1930s and the way the site looked in the late 1990s when the majority of the rest of the photographs in this archive were taken. They show the complex to be well maintained, with less visitors (local or foreign) than were customary by the pre war years.
Zar Zita is a small village to the south west of Qalat Seman. It has scattered Roman and late antique buildings including an imposing first or second century mausoleum in the centre of the settlement.
The madrasa is an Islamic school that was built by Nur al-Din (1118-1174) on the apse of the former Byzantine cathedral of Aleppo. The capitals are very close stylistically to those at Qalat Seman, suggesting that the church was originally built in the second half of the fifth century. Beside the steps down into the madrasa is a large basalt block inscribed with Christian symbols and some Syriac words. Its placement seems designed to underline Islamic supremacy over the former Christian owners of the site.
Tags: Aleppo, Architecture, Basalt, Byzantine, C12th, C5th, Capital, Cathedral, Church, Inscription, Madrasa, Madrasa Halawiyeh, Nur al-DIn, Qalat Seman, Sculpture, Syria, Syriac, Syriac Inscription
Dayr Seman is the village at the foot of the hill on which Qalat Seman stands and was the main reception centre for the many pilgrims who flocked to visit Simon Stylites, and after his death in 459, the pillar that he stood on. These are general views of the settlement and the triumphal arch that marked the path for pilgrims travelling to Qalat Seman.
The small settlement of Sitt er Rum is west of Qalat Seman one the other side of the valley. Its most complete extant monument is the late antique tower beside the road to Zar Zita and Qatura.
This monastery is in a more ruined condition than its counterpart and stands apart from the rest of the village, with a view of the bottom of the triumphal way leading up to Qalat Seman.
This is one of two monastery complexes in Dayr Seman, which when it was visited and photographed in 1997 was in a very good state of preservation and partially inhabited by a Kurdish family. The Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums (DGAM) later evicted them, but it may now be reinhabited.
Qal'at Seman is the site where Simeon Stylites the Elder stood on a pillar for 36 years. The hill is located to the north of Jebel Sheikh Barakat and the monumental complex was constructed on the orders of the Emperor after Simeon died in 459. It was one of the biggest churches in the world at the time it was built.