The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Friday, August 23, 2019

In war-torn Syria, an ancestor of Notre-Dame still stands
A picture taken on April 18, 2019 shows the facade of the 5th century basilica in Qalb Lozeh village in northwestern Syria. The ancient lime-stone cathedral is the architectural forerunner of France's famed Notre Dame cathedral. The abandoned church is widely hailed as Syria’s finest example of Byzantine-era architecture and is considered to have inspired Romanesque and Gothic cathedrals in Europe, including the Paris landmark. OMAR HAJ KADOUR / AFP.

by Omar Haj Kadour

QALB LOZEH (AFP).- An arched entrance flanked by two towers, elaborate carvings and a broad-aisled nave: a 5th century limestone church in northwestern Syria is the architectural forerunner of France's famed Notre-Dame cathedral.

Hemmed by the village of Qalb Lozeh (Arabic for Heart of the Almond), the cathedral which goes by the same name is widely hailed as Syria's finest example of Byzantine-era architecture.

And it is believed to have been the source of inspiration for Romanesque and Gothic cathedrals in Europe, including the Paris landmark Notre-Dame.

"It is the earliest known example of the twin tower facade flanking a highly elaborate arched entrance, the precursor to what became known as the Romanesque style," says Middle East cultural expert Diana Darke.

Romanesque architecture evolved into the Gothic style that defines Notre-Dame, she tells AFP.

The layout of the church in northwestern Syria has many similarities with Notre-Dame, she says.

"The specific similarities between Notre-Dame and Qalb Lozeh are first and foremost, the twin tower design flanking the elaborate arched portal," says Darke.

Inside Qalb Lozeh, "the similarities are in the pillars dividing the church into three broad aisles -- the nave and side-aisles -- a deliberate echoing of the Holy Trinity, with three sweeping arches resting on broad capitals to spread and distribute the weight which carried the clerestory windows and the original wooden roof over the nave," she adds.

The abandoned church is within a cluster of 40 so-called "Ancient Villages of Northern Syria" which UNESCO has included on its World Heritage List since 2011.

Two years later as fighting ravaged Syria and its cultural heritage the villages were placed on UNESCO's list of endangered sites.

UNESCO says the villages including Qalb Lozeh -- home to pagan temples and ancient churches -- illustrate "the transition from the ancient pagan world of the Roman Empire to Byzantine Christianity".

Crusaders export design
Qalb Lozeh was built by Syrian Christians whose wealth was based on wine and olive oil production, says Darke.

The church was frequented by pilgrims and is thought to have been a key stop on the way to the nearby basilica of Saint Simeon the Stylite.

"Merchants, pilgrims and monks moved constantly between this area and Europe over the centuries," she says.

"So it's not surprising that the design ideas found their way gradually back to Europe, even before the crusaders of the 12th century," she adds.

Syrian historian Fayez Kawsara said that crusaders brought Qalb Lozeh's architectural style to Europe in the 12th century.

"Anyone who delves deep in the study of Gothic art and especially Gothic churches will find that this architectural style travelled to Europe (from Syria)" he says, pointing to the cathedral's soaring arches, its detailed sculpting and its squared towers.

"The biggest proof of this is... Notre-Dame cathedral," adds Kawsara.

Qalb Lozeh -- which is much smaller in size than the Paris landmark, lies in the jihadist-held region of Idlib.

Children used the abandoned church as a playground and graffiti has been scrawled on the outside and inside walls of the cathedral.

Caretakers who guarded the church quickly left after Syria's conflict erupted in 2011.

Since then it has fallen into neglect, says villager Issam Ibrahim.

"It was not being protected and as village residents, we took it upon ourselves to protect the site," he says.

Wissam Mohammad, another resident, said the church holds important significance for the local community.

"It is not just a pile of old stones. It is a symbol of Syria's culture," says Mohammad.

© Agence France-Presse

Today's News

April 20, 2019

Notre-Dame paintings removed amid lead pollution fears

David Zwirner to represent the Paul Klee Family

'Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future' most-visited exhibition in Guggenheim Museum's history

In war-torn Syria, an ancestor of Notre-Dame still stands

Exhibition celebrates museum's excellent collection of postwar abstract art

Academy Museum to offer free admission to visitors under 18

MoMA appoints Beverly Adams as the new Estrellita Brodsky Curator of Latin American Art

Kelly Akashi is now represented by Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York

$110,700 prototype Coke bottle tops Morphy's $3M Las Vegas auction

18th century weapons of war are the focus of new exhibition at the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg

Property deaccessioned by the Virginia House Museum achieves 98% sell-through rate

Christo documentary to have U.S. theatrical premiere at Film Forum

MIT Computer DSKY that saved Apollo 14 Moon landing sold for $210,261 at auction

Miller & Miller announces results of its Advertising & Nostalgia Auction

Pollock-Krasner Foundation announces $3.1 million in grants & awards for 2018-2019

Shin Gallery opens first overview of Carla Prina's work in the United States

Chisenhale Gallery presents a new commission by Mandy El-Sayegh

Laura de Santillana's solo exhibition, "Moon. From Kyoto to New York.," is now on view at Ippodo Gallery

Michel de la Chenelière appointed Chair of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Board of Trustees

Athens installs Alexander the Great statue after 27-year delay

Exhibition highlights Anthony Hernandez's contemporary views of urban environment

VisionQuesT 4rosso Gallery opens an exhibition of works by Alessandra Calò

Controversial novelist Houellebecq picks up France's top honour

Most Popular Last Seven Days

1.- Conservation reveals Wellington Collection work was painted by Titian's Workshop

2.- New dinosaur discovered after lying misidentified in university's vaults for over 30 years

3.- Unseen Texas Chainsaw Massacre outtakes and stills sold for a combined $26,880

4.- National gallery reveals conserved Italian altarpiece by Giovanni Martini da Udine

5.- London's Tate Modern evacuated after child falls, teen arrested

6.- Bavarian State Minister of the Arts restitutes nine works of art

7.- Boy thrown from London's Tate Modern is French tourist visiting UK

8.- Child thrown from London gallery has broken spine, legs and arm

9.- £10 million Turner masterpiece may leave British shores

10.- Tourists banned from sitting on Rome's Spanish Steps

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful