Holy Patriarchal Convent of Our Lady of Saidnaya

The Saidnaya Convent is located in the mountains 20 miles north the city of Damascus in Syria. Saidnaya was the seat of the ancient Patriarchate of Antioch. Saidnaya has many ancient associations with the Bible. Many scholars consider Saidnaya to be second in religious importance to Jerusalem. Pilgrims from all over the world seek Saidnaya for renewal of faith and for healing. Saidnaya is also an area renowned for its faithfulness to Christianity.

The walls are covered with myriad signs of gratitude to the All-pure One. The Icon of the All-holy Virgin is believed to be one of four icons extant that were painted by St. Luke the Evangelist himself. In the Syriac language this icon is called the Chahoura or Chaghoura, which means "The Illustrious, Celebrated, or Renowned.". There are also many other fine icons of the Holy Virgin and the saints, which date from the fifth, sixth, and seventh centuries. There are about fifty nuns in the convent, presided over by an abbess. The convent owns several inalienable properties in Syria and Lebanon. Thousands of pilgrims from all parts of the world visit this holy place every year, particularly for its feast, the Nativity of the Theotokos on the eighth of September. In its library, which contains hundreds of valuable manuscripts, it can be documentedthatthe convent was founded about the year 547.

The convent soon gained such renown that it came to be ranked second only to Jerusalem as a place of pilgrimage, and nuns from every corner of Syria, Egypt, and other lands flocked to it. The holy Icon El Chagoura appeared many years after the convent was constructed.

Visitors from the region and from far away places seek The holy Lady of Saidnaya (Chaghoura) shrine for healing. Numerous miraculous healing stories have been reported and some of these stories are documented in writing by those who experienced it in the entrance of the holy shrine in the convent. Many other Catholic and Orthodox, Syriac Catholic, Syriac Orthodox churches and monasteries have been built in Saidnaya throughout history. There are few massive monasteries that have been built recently. These include: St. Thomas Roman Catholic Monastery, St. Estphariuos Orthodox Monastery, Cherubim Monastery in Marret Saidnaya. 


Nada Haj Khader


AL-Miskiya Market,Good Destination for Students

School and university students head to Almiskiya market-around the clock- where a huge numbers of shops displayed necessary materials with high quality and low prices.

Abo Jameel Al-Mujtahed ,aged 74  ,is a shop owner since almost five decades.

Al-Mujtahid , who witnessed countless number of incidents which took place there,gave a brief account on the said souk.

"Al-Miskiya souk meets the requirements of school and university students as regards books and stationary.

These books are branded as high quality with low price.

Shoes and handicrafts are also displayed for buyers in the souk.

The high season for sellers comes right at the return of pupils to their schools.

The displayed goods, to a large extent, attracted pupils and their parents alike to buy their necessary needs with low prices.

"the market embodies the state  of brotherhood among shops'owners.Furthermore, we encourage each other to take benefits of this strategic market ,"another shop owner asserted.

It is worth noting that al-Miskiya souk is located near the most important souk in Syria (al-Hamidiya) and this simply means a merit for buyers who could complete their shopping.


Hanan Shamout


Al-Heet Town,a Unique Archaeological site

Al-Heet Town, about 13 kilometers northeast of Shahba city in Swaida, is full of unique archaeological sites  dating back to more than two thousand years. These sites narrate the region's history, the ancient civilization and religious systems prevailed in different periods.

" Most prominent monuments in the village, which were known in the past as Eta, is al-Qaser(the palace) which is a three-storey huge building on a shape of U letter around a courtyard with underground floors. A large number of crosses are engraved on doors and arches." Director of Swaida Antiquities Department Hussein Zeineddin said.

He added that about 100 meters away from the palace, there are the southern church with walls contain seven inscriptions painted on reused stones, and the eastern Church as well.

Zeineddin said the village also embraces huge archaeological dwellings in the northwestern of the town which extends over 1512 square meters.


Maysa Wassouf





Wadi al-Oyoun Waterfalls: Attractive tourist site beautifully ornamented with green algae


Located in the heart of a fascinating nature and close to human habitation areas, Wadi al-Oyoun (springs valley) waterfalls site is one of the most beautiful tourist destinations in al-Sheikh Badr city of Tartous.

Walking, exploration and vacation lovers target the city of al-Sheikh Badr, the land of water and beauty, to enjoy the wonderful waterfalls scenery and the sound of fresh water falling and flowing among the rocks with the green carpet-like algae growing attractively on stairs-like rocks around the waterfalls.

 Only few people know about Wadi al-Oyoun waterfalls which are called so by some people, because of their proximity to the area of Wadi al-Oyoun. Some others call them the “Umbrella” waterfalls or the “Green Hat” waterfalls due to the natural erosion which contributed to forming shapes that resemble things we use in our daily life.

“What I like most is the pure water which resembles a bride dressed in bright white,” a persistent visitor said.

 The Syrian Countryside is very rich of attractive waterfalls, but, something special makes Wadi-Al-Oyoun waterfalls unique and different. It is the fact that they can be approached and anyone can touch the water, enjoy playing with water or even climb to the top without fearing to fall.

 What makes them more charming is the beautiful algae covering even the stones lying away from the waterfalls and adding smoothness to the rocks of the place.

 The most beautiful part of those waterfalls is the one designed by nature itself due to natural accumulations and collapses which later formed a very beautiful green umbrella of grasses and rocks.

Colors in this site are mixed and united to appear like pearls and sometimes like corals and white gold. In Spring these colorful gems become diverse as various kinds of flowers and plants bloom around those waterfalls.


Amal Farhat


Mari, Redraw The Map Of The Ancient World


Mari was discovered in 1933, on the eastern flank of Syria, near the Iraqi border. A Bedouin tribe was digging through a mound for a gravestone that would be used for a recently deceased tribesman, when they came across a headless statue.

Mari has been excavated in annual campaigns published in Syria, 1933–39, 1951–75. The 21 seasons up to 1975 were led by Andre Parrot. Less than half of the 1000 x 600-meter area of Mari has been uncovered as of 2005. Although archaeologists have tried to determine how many layers the site descends, it has not proved possible as of 2008. According to the archaeologist André Parrot, "each time a vertical probe was commenced in order to trace the site's history down to virgin soil, such important discoveries were made that horizontal digging had to be resumed."

The Mari Tablets belong to a large group of tablets . More than 25,000 tablets in Akkadian were found in the Mari archives, which give information about the kingdom of Mari, its customs, and the names of people who lived during that time. More than 8,000 are letters; the remainder includes administrative, economic, and judicial texts. The tablets, according to Andre Parrot, "brought about a complete revision of the historical dating of the ancient Near East and provided more than 500 new place names, enough to redraw or even draw up the geographical map of the ancient world."[  Almost all of the tablets found were dated to the last 50 years of Mari's independence, and most have now been published. The language of the texts is official Akkadian .

 Mari had been inhabited since the 5th millennium BC, but the real significance of the city was during the third and second millennia BC.

The city flourished from about 2900 BC, since it was strategically important as a relay point between the Sumerian cities of lower Mesopotamia, and the cities of northern Syria. Sumer required building materials such as timber and stone from northern Syria, and these materials had to go through Mari to get to Sumer.

After a period of eminence, Mari was destroyed in the mid-24th century BC. This destruction brought a period of relative decline in importance in the region, and the city was reduced to no more than a small village. Historians are divided as to who destroyed the city.

The status of the city was revived again under an Amorite dynasty.   The royal palace of Zimri-Lim, a king of Mari, contained over 300 rooms. The palace was possibly the largest of its time, and its reputation in neighboring cities and kingdoms was well-known. The state archives were also built during this time.

Mari was destroyed again around 1759 BC by Hammurabii, sixth king of Babylon. This is known from the numerous state archives tablets that recount Hammurabi turning on his old ally Zimrilim, and defeating him in battle. After this destruction, it was inhabited sporadically by Assyrians and Babylonians .

The growth of the city from a small village to an important trading center was due to its diverse economy in the ancient world. The city came to control the trade lanes between different regions such as western Iran, Mesopotamia and parts of  Anatolia. Cities that Mari is confirmed to have traded with include Ur, Aleppo, and Ugarit. The cargo brought through the city grew to include dates, olives, pottery, grains and stone.


Maysa Wassouf