- Collection: The Limestone Massif of North-Western Syria
Al Bara is the largest settlement on Jebel Zawiyeh and is famous with visitors because of its distinctive pyramidal-roofed mausolea. It has five churches and one small church with a narthex and short nave is included amongst these pictures.
The church at Ba'udeh has been dated to 392/3 by inscriptions and the village appears to have been very wealthy in late antiquity. The fallen masonry obscures the church interior, although the presence of notched pillars suggests that it had a nave barrier, as noted at other sites. Tchalenko recorded a Greek-style ambon - a pulpit that would have held one person - rather than the bema that was more common in this region of Syria.
Bab al Hawa means the gate of the winds and is the main border point between Antakya and Aleppo. A late antique monastery stands in no-mans land between the two passport and customs offices.
The church dated 390-407/8 at Babisqa is the larger of the two churches on the village and possesses a bema. The apse and the west wall were well preserved when the site was visited, with the north and south sides damaged but with the stones still in situ.
The C5th church at Bahio has a bema and, although overgrown had most of the west wall and a substantial part of the apse still standing. The site is surrounded by olive groves and the number of large olive presses in the late antique settlement demonstrates the antiquity of olive cultivation in the region.
The C5th church at Baqirha possesses a bema and has so many outbuildings that it was erronously believed to be a monastery in the past. Today most of the walls have fallen and it is difficult to make out the floorplan of the building.
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.
The church is small and its flat east end abuts the Qalb Lozeh-Harim road. The bema is in situ, and as at Kimar has notches suggesting that a wooden structure was in place above the stone base of the bema. There are also reliquaries still in place on the altar steps. The church is very small and its unsophisticated plan and execution led Tchalenko to date it to the late C6th-early C7th.
The C5th church is relatively large with at least one large and elaborate sarcophagus still extant nearby. As at Barish North it has a flat east end, which is relatively unusual in this region. Only the south wall is extensively damaged, with the other three still quite well preserved and elements of the bema still visible in the nave.
Batuta is on Jebel Seman and in 1997 was not connected to the road network. The church is very damaged on its northern side but the bema is still clearly visible.