2000 kilometers around Syria


I recently clocked 2000 kilometers around Syria, in a counterclockwise loop to Deir az-Zur and south to the Seleucid and Sumerian ruins, respectively, of Dura Europos and Mari on Euphrates hugging the border with Iraq; to the Kurdish north of the town of al-Hassakeh where we pushed our way into a Palm Sunday service at the local Syriac Orthodox church; west to Rasafa, an ancient desert city where they once worshipped St. Sergius, and the north of that Lake Assad, made from a massive dam on the Euphrates; to the so-called Dead Cities (abandoned Byzantine towns, sunbleached well-preserved rural architecture) that spread south and west of Aleppo; to an accidental visit to the shrine of Job on a nearby mountain near Serjilla and al-Bara; through the fertile Ghab valley, where we bought olive oil and were invited by the local Imam to stay for the night; to Apamea, a metropolis of antiquity that is today lots of columns in a green field; to the unturning waterwheels and stagnant water in Hama; and finally Crac de Chevaliers, lionized by TE Lawrence, which we remembered more for the brusk man at the cafe nearby whose greeting — “what do you want?” — told us we were nearing Damascus.

More stories to come, expanded, and pictures too.

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