July 24, 2001 – Aleppo – Saint Simeon – Aleppo




The rendezvous was set at 10 am in the hotel, Massimo will maybe join us to go to Saint Simeon. The owner insists on offering us a cup of tea.


On our way to Bab Antakya minibus station, we stop at the tourist office to be sure that Saint Simeon will be open because our guidebooks give us different versions for Tuesday opening. They also tell us that the trip to go there will take one hour, Massimo decides not to come with us in order to stay with Eugenia for her last day at the hospital. Tonight I will go there to say them goodbye because tomorrow our ways divide.


So we are 3 take the minibus to Daret Azze, located around 6 km from the site. We have to bargain with the driver to go to Saint Simeon (Qalaat Samaan). Finally we agree on a price (SP 75) to go there.


The site is wonderfully located on a hill at 60 km from the Turkish border and from the site you can have a superb view on the surrounding landscape.


Saint Simeon : Turkey just ahead


Saint Simeon : with Narcisse and Lydiane


Saint Simeon lived on a column for more than 40 years without going down !! After his death, a huge basilica was built, it is composed of three basilicas with 3 naves established as a cross around a square. In the middle of this square stands the remains of the famous column. The faηade has three archestopped by tympana. Once you crossed this main entrance you can see the basis of the column because all the pilgrims had the habit to take a small part of the column as a souvenir.


Saint Simeon : The faηade


Saint Simιon : The remains of the column


Saint Simeon : Part of the basilica


When you come back to the door you can see in the continuation, in the south part of the site, the baptistery that was built to welcome the pilgrims for baptism. Nowadays we can yet perfectly see the tank covered with mosaics and the stairs that enable the priest to perform quick baptisms.


So we stay nearly 3 hours on the site visiting the basilica, the tombs, and the baptistery. On our way back, Lydiane noticed at the entrance a computerized reconstruction of the basilica, great ! As we were the only tourists on the site, we decide to hitchhike to come back to Daret Azze. The first Syrian welcome us and tell us to stand at the rear of his pickup. Choukrane !


When back in Aleppo, we go the street where many fruit juice shops stand (near the clock tower). This will be my third cocktail for the day and it is delightful: 1 apple, 1 banana, 1 honey spoon, 1 orange glass, carrots juice, ice and some blackberries. 60 cl of freshness for only SP 40.


Then we go back to the hotel, Lydiane and Narcisse discover their bedroom and we have some rest. After a while I decide to go to say goodbye to Massimo and Eugenia. On my way I meet Massimo who is looking for the bus station to know the departure time for Damascus the next morning. Then we go to the post office by some postcards, traditional ones for me and very kitsch for Massimo’s collection. At the tourist office we find a Syrian speaking French who tells me where to make copies of the Lebanon guidebook. In the shop Massimo buys a notebook to write their feeling on their honeymoon and after he offers me a last cocktail at our favorite shop.


At our return to the hospital, Eugenia is pleased to see me, we start discussing for a while on their projects for their next days before leaving for Italy, their projects of vacations, my future discovery of Italy. Finally we say goodbye (Arive derci) after nearly a whole week spent together laughing and talking a lot. Maybe I will see them again in Beirut, who knows?


Tonight I will have my last lunch at our headquarters.


When we go back to the hotel, I also say goodbye to my fellow travelers. I hope to see them again in Jordan, by chance!


The night will be short because I have my backpack to be filled.


Conclusion on Aleppo: City with a great atmosphere, I will come back one day, I am sure of that.





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D1 : Lyons – Damascus

D2 : Damascus (1)  (2)

D3 : Damascus

D4 : Damascus – Palmyra

D5 : Palmyra – Hama

D6 : Hama – Apamea – Aleppo

D7 : Aleppo

D8 : Aleppo

D9 : Aleppo

D10 : Aleppo – San Simeon – Aleppo

D11 : Aleppo – Qalaat Al Saadin – Tartous (1)  (2)

D12 : Tartous – Krak des chevaliers – Beirut (1)  (2)

D13 : Beirut – Tripoli

D14 : Tripoli – Damascus

D15 : Damascus – Maaloula – Damascus

D16 : Damascus

D17 : Damascus – Bosra – Damascus

D18 : Damascus – Amman – Dead Sea – Amman

D19 : Amman – Jerash - Amman

D20 : Amman – Madaba – Amman

D21 : Amman – Kerak – Dana

D22 : Dana

D23 : Dana – Petra (1)  (2)

D24 : Petra

D25 : Petra

D26 : Petra – Wadi Rum

D27 : Wadi Rum – Aqaba

D28 : Aqaba

D29 : Aqaba

D30 : Aqaba

D31 : Aqaba

D32 : Aqaba - Amman

D33 : Amman

D34 : Amman – Lyons




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Last update : January 2002

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