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Halabiyeh

Sixty km upstream, on the right bank, from Deir-ez-Zor stands a most impressive castle. This is Halabiyeh, called Zenobia in Palmyrene times, which for hundreds of years was bitterly contended for. Outer walls, on a triangular plan extending down to the river bank itself (there used to be a ford at this point), rise in a series of closely set square towers to the top of a basalt spur, which is crowned by a massive keep. Inside the ramparts there is nothing but ruins, but the lovely gray stone, flecked with glittering gypsum crystals, lends a fairytale beauty to the silent scene. Slightly downstream from Halabiyeh, on the cliffs on the left bank, stands its counterpart, the castle of Zalabiyeh, whose simpler rectangular curtain wall is rather better preserved. The outline of its towers is clearly visible from Halabiyeh. Since there is no ferry across the river, access to the latter fortress is long and difficult; it can be reached by a track along the left bank, from Der Al Zor.

On the right bank 45 kilometers downstream from Der Al Zor, a legendary castle seems to rise from the pink and ochre cliffs, level with the village of Mayadin. This is Qalaat al-Rahba, an Arab fortress perched on a rocky spur, which looks formidable a distance but on closer inspection turns out to be sadly dilapidated.

The countryside around Mayadin and Ashârâ (the next village) is extremely colorful in July. Melons, particularly watermelons, are almost exclusively cultivated in these parts. Great mountains of them lie piled up in special storage yards; in the near-by cafes deals are concluded for tons at a time - the whole crop runs into millions of tons. If you wish to buy some you have only to ask. The boot of your car will soon be filled to overflowing with green and yellow melons, as big as Rugby balls and as hard and dense as stones.

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Addition Date:Added on Oct,05,01 :: Last modified Apr,21,04
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