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Wadi al-Nasara: Where Faith, Culture and Beauty Converge.

Wadi al-Nasara: A photograph captures the interior of St. Gergious Monastery.

Wadi al-Nasara: Where Faith, Culture and Beauty Converge.

Wadi al-Nasara, or “Valley of the Christians”, is a captivating destination that goes beyond its religious and historical significance. As you explore this picturesque valley in western Syria, you’ll be greeted by a landscape that seems like a painting come to life. The rugged mountains of the Coastal Range cradle the valley, creating a breathtaking backdrop for your journey.

The towns and villages that dot Wadi al-Nasara are where the heart of Christian life beats in Syria. Stepping foot into these communities offers a glimpse into a world where age-old traditions and faith have stood the test of time. The people here have diligently safeguarded their religious and cultural practices, making the valley a living testament to the resilience and devotion of its inhabitants.

While the religious sites hold a special allure, Wadi al-Nasara’s natural beauty is equally captivating. As you wander through the valley, you’ll encounter rolling hills carpeted in vibrant greenery, vineyards that stretch as far as the eye can see, and mountains that command attention with their grandeur. Nature enthusiasts and hikers will find themselves drawn to the trails that wind through the valley, offering a chance to immerse themselves in its breathtaking landscapes.

The allure of Wadi al-Nasara lies not only in its scenic splendour but also in the harmonious blend of nature and culture. The region’s rich history and religious heritage are interwoven with the beauty of the land, creating an experience that is as enlightening as it is awe-inspiring. Whether you venture into ancient monasteries and churches, engage with the friendly locals, or simply soak in the tranquillity of the surroundings, Wadi al-Nasara promises a journey that will deepen your understanding of Syria’s diverse tapestry of faith and history.

Saint George Monastery:

One of the most notable Christian sites in Wadi al-Nasara is Deir Mar Jerjes is a large Greek Orthodox monastery named after Saint George. It is located in Wadi al-Nasara, or “Valley of the Christians”, an area that includes several dozen Christian villages in the western countryside of Homs. The region has been a center for Greek Orthodox Christianity since the Byzantine period. The monastery was originally founded in the sixth century, probably at the time of Emperor Justinian, and is maintained by an active monastic community living there today.

The main entrance opens into a large upper courtyard, with a stairway leading down to a smaller lower courtyard. The complex features two churches. The larger church, north of the upper courtyard, was constructed in 1857. The smaller church, off the lower courtyard, dates from the 13th century. It has an impressive  century iconostasis carved from ebony wood. Several small chambers, likely dating from the original 6th century monastery, are accessible from the lower level courtyard.

Visitors are welcome to the monastery, which holds an annual feast dedicated to Saint George on the 6th of May and the “Elevation of the Holy Cross” celebration on the 14th of September. The monastery is only a few kilometers to the northwest of Krak des Chevaliers, and it is a pleasant hike between the two sites.

Krak des Chevaliers:

Krak des Chevaliers is another notable historical attraction located in Wadi al-Nasara. It is widely regarded as one of the most impressive and well-preserved examples of Crusader architecture in the world. It was originally built by the Knights Hospitaller, a military order of Christian knights, in the 11th century CE. The castle’s strategic location on a hill provided excellent views of the surrounding landscape, giving it a strong defensive position.

Krak des Chevaliers served as a key stronghold during the Crusades, a series of religious and military campaigns launched by European Christians in the Middle Ages to reclaim Jerusalem and other holy sites from Muslim control. The castle played a significant role in protecting the Crusader states and acted as a base for military operations.

The fortress is characterized by its massive walls, imposing towers, and intricate defensive features. It was constructed using local limestone and features a concentric design, with multiple layers of fortifications and a central courtyard. The interior of the castle contained various rooms and chambers, including living quarters, chapels, storerooms, and a large cistern to ensure a reliable water supply.

Over the centuries, Krak des Chevaliers changed hands several times between Crusader forces and Muslim armies. It underwent modifications and expansions under different rulers, including the Mamluks and the Ottomans. Its strategic importance diminished over time, and by the 19th century, it was primarily used as a barracks and a prison.

In the present day, despite the ongoing conflict in Syria, Krak des Chevaliers remains an iconic landmark and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It attracts tourists, history enthusiasts, and scholars who appreciate its architectural grandeur and its historical significance.

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