Arwad island


Arwad island is like a gem in the middle of the sea, with its amazing castle and its wall. Is located 3 KLM from tartus city
The population is about 10,000.
The Island is full of restaurants and bars and is crowded in the summer, The island is divided in 2 parts south and north and people from those parts speak different accents.

It is a Mediterranean island, just off the coast of Tartus. Its ancient roots as a Canaanite coastal settlement are described in Egyptian documents dating to the 2nd millennium BC. Arwad's strategic location and trade-based economy made it a key colony in the Phoenician empire. The island was subsequently passed on to the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greek and finally the Romans under Alexander the Great. During the Roman period, however, the island's strategic value was no longer nurtured, as such, the Arwad's importance diminished while its onshore twin Tartus gained in stature.

Arwad was the last Crusader stronghold in the region and fell to the Arabs in the thirteenth century. Antique and medieval architectural remains denote a rich historic past. There are still fragments of the Phoenician walls, some parts of which have been used for squatter housing. Two main castles still stand on the island; the most visible being the Crusader defense fortress that stands at the center of Arwad. This citadel was used as a prison for Syrian nationalists fighting against the French mandate of Syria (1920-1946); traces of the resistance still mark the cells' stonewalls. The second, an Arab castle located on the port side of the island, was used as a main trade point. This Arab castle has been recently renovated and converted into a museum.

The fabric of Arwad is dense, with narrow winding streets between the tight residential quarters. Today the isolated island is mainly a tourist site that is reached by a 20-minute boat ride from Tartus. Its economy depends on tourism, local crafts and maritime occupations (small trade and fishing).

The special nature of Arwad Island makes it more distinct in the life style of its people whose memories are full of sea legends and stories. Surrounded by the sea, Arwad inhabitants found in fishing and boat manufacturing the main source of livelihood. They worked hard to preserve the handicrafts and skill of their forefathers, the Phoenician, day after day, boat manufacturing, decorative shell industry, fishing and sponge fishing, were flourishing.
The sea constitutes an essential part of the inhabitants' life where 70 % of them mastered the major professions, handicrafts and hobbies related to the sea.
Shell industry, in the first place, depends on collecting shells and corals, after which they are shaped in different kinds of presents and souvenirs.
The island represents an architectural sculpture. It has always been described as the five-storey city. It is located 3 km from Tartous, Syria's largest port.

At last I say :Arwad is a marvelous island, everyone must visit, it is not a big city, the people there are very kind and helpful, and the beach side in Tartous new made. Best thing you do is going in sea trip it is very cheap, and you can see (Arwad castle) go up and see the city and the ships there small and big, it is a very nice view you will remember the end of your life. You must eat fish there, it is very tasty, and all the food are very good, by the way I am sure you are going to buy some souvenirs, to your friends and family, because they are handmade and cheap, most of them are made from shell ,when you go back to your home, I am sure you will wish to come back to Arwad, I went there many times and I wish, and ready to go more.

Butheina Alnounou  



Ugaritic alphabet inscribed on clay tablets

Ugarit was an ancient port city on the eastern Mediterranean at the Ras Shamra headland; some 11 kilometres (7 mi) north of Latakia in northern Syria near modern Burj al-Qasab. Ugarit sent tribute to Egypt and maintained trade and diplomatic connections with Cyprus, documented in the archives recovered from the site and corroborated by Mycenaean and Cypriot pottery found there. The polity was at its height from ca. 1450 BC until 1200 BC.

Though the site is thought to have been inhabited earlier, Neolithic Ugarit was already important enough to be fortified with a wall early on, perhaps by 6000 BC. Ugarit was important perhaps because it was both a port and at the entrance of the inland trade route to the Euphrates and Tigris lands.

The first written evidence mentioning the city comes from the nearby city of Ebla, 1800 BC. Ugarit passed into the sphere of influence of Egypt, which deeply influenced its art. The earliest Ugaritic contact with Egypt (and the first exact dating of Ugaritic civilization) comes from a carnelian bead identified with the Middle Kingdom pharaoh Senusret I, 1971 BC – 1926 BC. A stela and a statuette from the Egyptian pharaohs Senusret III and Amenemhet III have also been found. However, it is unclear at what time these monuments got to Ugarit. Amarna letters from Ugarit 1350 BC record one letter each from Ammittamru I, Niqmaddu II, and his queen.

From the 16th to the 13th century BC Ugarit remained in constant touch with Egypt and Cyprus.

In the second millennium BC Ugarit's population was Amorite, and the Ugaritic language probably has a direct Amoritic origin. The kingdom of Ugarit may have controlled about 2,000 km2 on average.

During some of its history it would have been in close proximity to, if not directly within the Hittite Empire.

The last Bronze Age king of Ugarit, Ammurapi, (circa 1215 to 1180 BC) was a contemporary of the Hittite king Suppiluliuma II. The exact dates of his reign are unknown.   

Scribes in Ugarit appear to have originated the "Ugaritic alphabet" around 1400 BC: 30 letters, corresponding to sounds, were inscribed on clay tablets; although they are cuneiform in appearance, that is, impressed in clay with the end of a stylus, they bear no relation to Mesopotamian cuneiform signs. A debate exists as to whether the Phoenician or Ugaritic "alphabet" was first. While the letters show little or no formal similarity, the standard letter order (preserved in the Latin alphabet as A, B, C, D, etc.) shows strong similarities between the two, suggesting that the Phoenician and Ugaritic systems were not wholly independent inventions.


Maysa Wasouf

Ma’alula is a unique city in Syria




Ma’alula means the entrance in the Aramic language. It is a rocky village located in the middle of the Syrian countryside, nestled in the Qalamoun mountains 1500 meters above sea level, Maaloula is one of the most scenic villages in Syria, up till now it’s people still speak Aramic, the language of Jesus Christ . It is historically the home of the First Martyr, St Takla, daughter of a Roman prince who was converted to Christianity by St Paul. The story goes that after St Takla’s pagan father learned of her conversion, he sent his soldiers to execute her but each time she was miraculously saved. Fleeing to Syria, St Takla found herself confronted by the impassable Qalamoun mountains. After praying to God to save her, the mountain was miraculously split in half so she could escape her persecutors.

Arriving in Maaloula you feel this ancient history in the air. It’s pregnant with religion. There are crosses hidden in every cave and painted on every wall. Some are carved, some are lit at night, and more still are plain – just simple remembrances of the town’s pervasive Christianity. At the top of the mountains there’s another reminder; a statue of the Blessed Mother overlooking the village with her loving gaze. Christianity isn’t something that’s just talked about here, it’s in the air, the earth, and the very breath of each of its 2,000 inhabitants.

In Ma’alula you won’t find the usual hustle and bustle of other Middle Eastern towns; there’s a vibe of pilgrimage. A place where adventurous Christians and Muslims alike can follow the steep mountain road up to the Monastery of St Takla, home to the miraculous waterfall created by God for the pursued martyr.

The village has two famous monasteries:

Mar Sarkis

Mar Sarkis was built in the 4th century on the site of a pagen temple. It is considered one of the oldest surviving monasteries in the Christian world. This ancient Greek Catholic monastery of St Sergius, with its beautiful decoration pieces dating back from the Byzantine period, is the one of the reasons why Christian pilgrims from all over the world come to Ma’alula. They come seeking blessings and to wonder on this religious marvel.

Mar Taqla

Mar Takla is the other ancient and equally important Christian monastery in Ma’alula. This Greek Orthodox  monastery of St. Taqla houses some of the Christian religious relics considered highly sacred to the Christian world.

Archaeologists have discovered a number of rock-carved temples and halls from the 1st millennium before Christ as well as some Roman and Byzantine cemeteries dating back to the period between the 1 st and 4 th centuries after the birth of Christ   

Ma’alula Not just is one of the oldest towns in the world, It is the only city where its 2,000 inhabitants still speak Aramaic – (the language of Jesus ) .It is a unique city and is by far.

Compiled by

Butheina Alnounou




Phoenician Temple ,most important excavations at Amrit


The city lies on the Mediterranean coast around 6 kilometers (3.7 mi) south of modern-day Tartus. Two rivers cross the city: Nahr Amrit, near the main temple, and Nahr al-Kuble near the secondary temple, a fact that might be linked to the importance of water in the religious traditions in Amrit. The city was probably founded by the Arvadites, and served as their continental base. It grew to be one of the wealthiest towns in the dominion of Arwad. The city surrendered, along with Arwad, to Alexander the Great in 333 BC. During Seleucid times the town, known as Marathus, was probably larger and more prosperous than Arwad. In 219 BC Amrit gained independence from Arwad, and was later sacked by forces from the latter city in 148 BC.

Excavations of the site principally began in 1860 by Ernest Renan. Excavations were again carried out in 1954 by the archaeologist Maurice Dunand. Ceramic ware finds at Amrit indicated the site had been inhabited as early as the third millennium BC. Middle and Late Bronze Age "silo tombs" were also excavated, with contents ranging from weapons to original human remains. Excavations at the necropolis south of the town yielded several tomb structures. The funeral art found in some tombs with pyramidal-or cube-shaped towers, is considered some of "the most notable grave-monuments of the Phoenician world." Excavations also uncovered the town's ancient harbor, and a U-shaped stadium that dates back to the 4th and 3rd centuries BC and measures around 230 metres (750 ft) in length.

One of the most important excavations at Amrit was the Phoenician temple, commonly referred to the "ma'abed," dedicated to the god Melqart of Tyre and Eshmun. The colonnaded temple, excavated between 1955 and 1957, consists of a large court cut out of rock measuring 47×49 metres (154×161 ft) and over 3 metres (9.8 ft) deep, surrounded by a covered portico. In the center of the court a well-preserved cube-shaped cella stands.] The open-air courtyard was filled with the waters of a local, traditionally sacred spring, a unique feature of this site. The temple dated back to the late 4th century BC shows major Achaemenid influence in its layout and decoration. According to Dutch archaeologist, Peter Akkermans, the temple is the "best-preserved monumental structure from the Phoenician homeland."

A second temple, described by visitors to the site in 1743 and 1860 and thought to have disappeared, was later discovered by the Syrian archaeological mission near the Nahr al-Kuble spring.

Compiled by:Maysa Wasouf




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