Calling Serjilla a "dead city" is perhaps incorrect. Not only is it merely a village, but it is also inhabited. The attached photo shows the hanging laundry of a family of squatters who have taken refuge in one of its old houses. Given how lovely and intact these Byzantine mansions are, who could blame them? These squatters generally keep to...more
Serjilla's buildings are decorated with the typical circular Byzantine symbols of the 4th and 5th century AD. These symbols are found at other 'dead cities' of the region, and have survived in modified form in later Syrian architecture well into the 19th century. The attached photos show a few examples, some of which are based on religious crosses,...more
One of Serjilla's most striking buildings, the Andron was a men's meeting place, a tavern of some sort. The building is located just east of the bathhouse and is astonishingly well preserved having lost nothing but its ceilings. The façade has a double portico with three columns on each floor, as seen in the photograph. The Andron dates from the...more
East of the bath house, up a hill is Serjilla's best preserved mansion. The entire house is intact with the exception of its roof and floor. Though an arch that used to support the ceiling has survived in the interior. The attached photos show some details, including the beautiful stone carvings around the windows and door.more
Adjacent to Serjilla's modern car park, the first building on the right hand side as you enter the ruins is a house or villa. It is among a cluster of houses at the western end of the village. Although only its southern wall survived intact, the eastern facing façade still has its doors and decorations. Inside the house, an arch that used to...more
Built in a basin amid rocky, grassy hills, Serjilla has some of the best preserved buildings of any 'dead city' of north-western Syria. True to every guidebook's description, Serjilla is an eerie place that appears to have been abandoned only a short moment ago. The attached photos show some views of the village and its ruins.more
The southeastern end of Serjilla has a small cluster of villas/mansions. The most striking is the one shown in the attached photo, which is similar in architecture as the Andron. Its façade has a double portico with four columns each, although part of the portico and some of the columns collapsed. This villa has been used in more recent times as...more
Past the necropolis and down a curved downhill path one first comes across two well-preserved buildings (south-east of the necropolis). The building on the left hand side was the town's bathhouse. Built in 473 AD, it is one of the few in Syria to have survived intact from the Christian period. It is said that when this building was discovered by an...more
The only thing you need to do is let your mind roam and imagine what the citizens of this town did on a daily basis. Once yeilding grapes, olives, and other produce, Serjilla was once a pretty happening trade town. When trade routes shifted away, the town fell into a slump and its inhabitants abandoned it to pursue trade. Many of the large mosaics...more
The only real way to get to Serjilla is by hired driver or rental. I seriously advise against renting a car in the Middle East because the driving is insane! I stayed at the Riad Hotel in Hama which provides hired drivers for day trips. My driver was Omar who spoke little English but really made my day with his friendly banter. Combine this with other locations suggested by the Riad staff.
Much to my surprise, I discovered that Serjilla is home not only to some spectacular ruins, but also to some (not so spectacular) animals. There were goats and chickens and such belonging to some locals who had turned parts of the city into a farm!
In this picture you can see they built new wall and put doors on, as a stable for the animals at night. The area around here is covered in goat turds.
Located close and on the way to Serjilla, Al-Barah is said to be another large and extensive 'dead city'. It contains numerous mansions, churches and a monastery, spread across a large area and built among olive groves and orchards. One of its highlights is the existence of pyramidal tombs and also the fact that archeologists believe the landscape...more
The landscape around Serjilla is very striking... almost moon-like. It is made up essentially of white/grey rocks. These rocks are the same ones that were used in the construction of many of the dead cities. It is said that when the dead cities were inhabited, the land around Serjilla was much more fertile, but soil erosion over time led to the...more
On the way to Serjilla, as one turns off the main road, along the final stretch which ends in Serjilla itself, is another small 'dead city' called Boudeh. It is located roughly half way between Al-Barah and Serjilla. Boudeh is made up of only a small number of houses and my guidebook says it has the ruins of a pyramidal tomb. We did not stop in...more