A wandering bird's-eye overview of most things even vaguely related to travel, and an opportunity for writers, artists and photographers to contribute the historical, the hysterical, the quirky and quixotic... anything with heart.

4 years ago
A pillar in the storm
A pillar in the storm

Destination = Qal'a Sim'an, Syria

Noble arches pitch from part-pillars, tumbled piles, broken masonry and rubble; a boulder all that's left of the most famous pillar of all.


Saint Simeon moved from a monastery to here for the life of a hermit, living on a 15m high stone pillar. Followers come from far and wide to hear him preach twice each day.


The Saint dies in 459, after 37yrs atop his pillar home, the body taken to Antioch escorted by hundreds of soldiers and 7-bishops; the pillar now a pilgrimage. Within decades, there are 4-basilicas, spreading out from a central octagon built about the Saint’s famous pillar - the 5th Century Byzantine church perched on a barren knoll of a hill, the ancient city of Aleppo 60km away to the south.


In the years that follow there are sieges and earthquakes, uprisings, cholera and Mongol invasions. Hundreds of thousands dead.


Here in 2010, black-clad women wander wide dusty paths by walls the colour of sand. Modern ghosts mingle with the old; a rolling timeless desert for all to see.

I wonder if the future could be as savage as the past.

Photo: A pillar in the storm - Church of Saint Simeon Stylites, Qal'a Sim'an, Syria _ Vyacheslav Argenberg

  1. aboreson4 

    This is such beautiful imagery. What those pillars and walls must have heard when Saint Simeon preached his wisdom! Now, like so many things that we've lost through nature's force and human acts of destruction, we are left to walk in ruins. I have no doubt the future can be as brutal as the past. I hope to be proved wrong.


    1. lostboys 

      I do seem to have a morbid fascination with ruins. Not sure why.
      & with a civil war currently underway, the unfolding future doesn't look good