In the northwest of Syria, between the cities of Aleppo and Idlib, lies on of the largest concentration of archaeological sites in the world, the Dead Cities of Syria. More than 700 settlements grouped in 8 archaeological parts provide an insight into rural life in Late Antiquity and during the Byzantine period.
The well preserved remains include houses, churches, pagan temples, cisterns and bathhouses. Located along major routes, these cities were prosperous between the 1st and 7th centuries. After the Arab conquest, the trade routes changed and the cities lost the majority of the business. They were finally abandoned between the 8th and 10th centuries as settlers left for more prosperous lands.
Before the Syrian Civil War, these abandoned cities were often visited by tourists although the Syrian government had done little to restore the ancient ruins. In 2011, the "Ancient Villages of Northern Syria" were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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