Villages     Qal' at Sem' an     Antioch-Apameia     "Fortresses towns"

The villages of the limestone massif of Belus
  Like the southern Syrian massifs of Hauran and Djebel el-Arab, the nothern Limestone Plateau, was rich and densely populated for many centuries despite its marginal setting. Here individual farmers prospered thanks to diversified crops (olive oil, wine, cereal, fruit and vegetables), the surplus of which they sold, stock raising, and a tenacious habit to defy imperial tax collectors. As many as seven hundred villages, many of them almost perfectly preserved to this day, are scattered in the region. Built in a finely cut limestone masonry, they consist of clusters of houses and the occasional public building, such as a church, a bath, a hostel or a tavern, separated by narrow tortuous streets and irrregular open plazas. It seems that the farmers invested much of their riches in their elegant dwellings, which usually include a main house and various annexes, such as oil and wine presses. Both house and annexes give onto a courtyard and communicated with the outside by a single door. The main house is often two- or three-storeyed, the ground floor being used for storage and animals, the top ones as living quarters. It has galleries, balconies and ceilings of stone. Elegant mouldings run across the faŤades, and frame the doors and windows. However, all houses lack basic amenities such as heating and sanitation, and were probably shared by more than one families.

See also: Urban Planning