Rasafa, Syrian Ghost Town

How many ghost towns are left in the world? It's difficult to answer the question but Rasafa is one of them. It is a Syrian city located 26 kilometers west of the Euphrates River. It is mentioned as Rasaph in the Old Testament, in 2 Kings 19:12 and Isaiah 37:12, and said to have been destroyed by Sennacherib the Assyrian emperor.

People have left the town long time ago and now it's inhabited only by sand and
stones which can never forget its former mightiness. The town used to be called Sergiopolis as the cult of St. Sergius was born here. In the year 303 Saints Serguis and Bacchus who were Syrian Roman nobles and generals in the Roman army, were martyred for refusing to offer sacrifices to the Roman god Jupiter. Serguis was led to Rasapha on foot, with boards nailed to his feet, and was eventually beheaded. Bachus also died because of severe scourging. The transport can be reached only by taxi as no transport goes there. A taxi can be hired at al-Mansur town which will take you 30 km deep into the desert. The total journey including one hour of idle-time next to the ruins will cost you around 9 US dollars.

Mind that local cab drivers will never miss an opportunity to earn additional money and give a lift to any person who can appear on their way. So, be ready to accept the fact that you will be taken to a plenty of villages before reaching Rasafa. But you'll forget about your anger as soon as you see the vallum of the magnificent place.

Defense embankment on the right.

A huge basilica of St. Sergius built by Byzantium Emperor Anastasius in 509, which is now turned into ruins is the main sight of Rasafa.

Do you see the marks on the wall? They were left by frescoes covering the entire place.

Holes for wood logs supporting the second floor are seen everywhere. The basilica probably had three but not two storeys.

An entrance to the basilica.

From the external side the walls of the basilica are supported by massive bars built in the 9th century.

Later Rasafa became the religious capital of the Ghassanid kingdom. It is said that when the Roman Emperor Justinian conspired to king of the Ghassanids, for fear of his growing power in Syria, the latter revolted against the Romans and did not accept their continuous offers to negotiate a peace until it was done at the tomb of St Serguis, because he was a patron of the Ghassanids and one of their greatest saints. The last of the Ghassanid kings was Jabala Ben Al-Ayham, who fought the advancing Muslims in Al-Yarmouk battle, along with his Roman allies, and was forced to convert to Islam as a result of his defeat. 

The town saw next changes during the reign of the Umayyad king Hisham who built a mosue next to the Cristian basilica.

Ruins of basilica.

A cross with precious stones gifted by the wife of Emperor Justinian Theodora was captured by the Persians. The town existed till the middle of the 13th century.

Northern gates of Rasafa.

Huge cisterns for water were stored underground in the south-eastern part of the town. They were built during the reign of Anastasius just like the basilica of St. Sergius. Only small holes of the cisterns can be seen from the ground. This is an entrance to an endless abyss.

Do you want to get inside the huge constructions? Be ready to crawl 10-15 meters along a worm hole and be all covered with white dust.

The place looks even more beautiful in the rays of the setting sun.

via  maximus101


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