Halabiye and Zalabiye
This site, on the right bank of the mid Euphrates River, is
approximately 100 km south of Al
Raqqa and 66 km north of Deir
Ezzor. Having been one of the most fortified of Byzantine
defensive projects it is now a beautifully preserved site.
The site of Halabiye was first built when the kingdom of
took over the area in 266 AD. Under Zenobia it was fortified as a
defensive structure to guard Palmyrean control on the Euphrates
valley. However, the Romans, in retaliation to Zenobia's rebellion,
took it over when they occupied Palmyra.
Under the Romans it was rebuilt and fortified twice, once under
Diocletian in an effort to strengthen his defenses in this area. The
other period of expansion was under the Byzantine Emperor Justinian
(527 - 565), in an effort to fortify this city against Persian
In 610 AD the Sassanian Persians occupied most of Syria, sacking
Halabiye on their way. Later on about 15 years later the Arabs took
over most of the east and as the Euphrates was no longer a frontier
for them, Halabiye was of little use and it was abandoned forever.
What is left now of Halabiye is a complex plan of ruins including
a number of tower tombs on the riverside, the cardo maximus, some
baths, 2 basilicas, and a forum. The walls to this city are quite
well preserved and are interrupted by towers every few meters.
Furthest away from the river is a praetorium which was soldiers'
barracks, and a citadel which was originally Byzantine but was
rebuilt and altered by the Arabs.
Halabiye's twin city is that of Zalabiye which is located 2 km
downstream on the opposite side of the Euphrates. Zalabiye shares
all of Halabiye's steps through history.
Zalabiye comprises of a plan similar to Halabiye although it is
in a less preserved state, only the east side remains.
It is difficult to get to Zalabiye, there are no bridges on the
Euphrates here, the closest is in Deir