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Yabroud Cathedral (Yabroud St. Constantine and Helen Cathedral)

Wall of Yabroud Cathedral
Wall of Yabroud Cathedral./
Gruppo Archeologico Romano, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

WorldBlue  In short

The Yabroud Cathedral is considered to be the oldest extant church in Syria. According to tradition, this church was founded in a former paganic temple in 326 AD.

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GPS coordinates
33.9707 N 36.6575 E
Location, address
Asia, Syria, Rif Dimashq Governorate, centre of Yabroud
Churches, Prehistoric and ancient shrines
Name in Arabic
يبرود كاتدرائية قسطنطين وهيلانة
Architectural style
Byzantine (the oldest part)
Year of construction
326 AD (according to tradition)
Branch of Christianity
Greek Orthodox

Map of the site

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WorldYellow In detail

Yabroud Cathedral, side view
Yabroud Cathedral, side view./
Gruppo Archeologico Romano, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Yabroud is an ancient town with millennia-long history. In this picturesque town are located two churches with a long history – the Greek Melkite Catholic Virgin Mary Church and Yabroud St. Constantine and Helen Cathedral. Several more late antiquity churches existed in the town but have not been preserved to this day.

Paganic temple

It is not known when the first shrine was built at the site of the current Yabroud Cathedral, but already before 64 BC there was a Canaanite shrine to the Sun.

In 64 BC this shrine was transformed into a temple of Jupiter in Iabruda. This structure was further expanded and reinforced in 212-235 AD. The temple was constructed from the stone from neighboring Qalamoun mountains, in some places using material from older temples.

Early Christian cathedral?

Several of the world’s most ancient churches are attributed to the pilgrimage of Helena, mother of Roman emperor Constantine to Jerusalem. According to this tradition, Helena visited Yabroud on her return from Jerusalem to Rome and ordered the conversion of the temple into a Christian church.

Thus, many locals assume that this church was founded in 326 AD and, thus, is one of the oldest in the world.

It is hard to prove or disprove this, but the history of Yabroud Cathedral is ancient and the cathedral was the seat of the bishop already in late antiquity.

Latest history

Most of the present-day cathedral was built in later times, especially after 1840. Just a fundament and part of support columns remain from the Roman times.

Nevertheless, the overall planning of the cathedral has inherited some aspects of Early Byzantine architecture, such as the division into three naves, that are separated by supports and archways.

In the cathedral are many valuable icons from the 18th and 19th centuries.

The resistance to the Assad regime led to several fights in Yabroud and the cathedral was damaged in September 2013 and, possibly, in February 2014. Locals – both Christians and Muslims – renovated the valuable building as soon as possible.

  1. Hazem Sabbagh, Sts. Constantine and Helen Cathedral in Yabroud, a witness to thousands of years of civilization, SANA, 16 February 2015. Accessed on February 4, 2023.

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WorldYellow Recommended books

Every Pilgrim’s Guide to the Journeys of the Apostles: Greece, Turkey, Italy, Lebanon, Malta, Syria and the Holy Land

This informative, pocket-sized guide is a travelling companion for the growing number of visitors to the sites of the Early Church. The guide includes practical information for tourists such as maps, a language guide and information on local services and facilities. It also features historical background, notes on Paul’s letters and devotional insights.

The Lost History of Christianity

The Lost History of Christianity by Philip Jenkins offers a revolutionary view of the history of the Christian church. Subtitled “The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia—and How It Died,” it explores the extinction of the earliest, most influential Christian churches of China, India, and the Middle East, which held the closest historical links to Jesus and were the dominant expression of Christianity throughout its first millennium.

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