Banabel (بنابل) is a friendly Druze village located about nine kilometers southeast of Harem (حارم) in the mountain region of Jebel al-Aala (جبل الأعلى). This small village contains numerous remains dating back to the late Roman period, but no church. The ruins include a sizable house (two storied) with an attractive engaged Corinthian column, one of three said to be from the second century. To the south of the village is the orphaned column of a funerary monument, in the typical style of the same period. While the remains at the site are minimal, it justifies a stop if passing through to visit the more well-known site of Qalb Lozeh (قلب لوزة) further to the south.
Getting There: There is no regular public transportation into the region of Jebel al-Aala (جبل الأعلى), presenting a challenge for visitors. There are two main routes for getting into the area.
The most common route is via the town of Harem (حارم), to the northwest, which has regular microbus connections with Aleppo (حلب) and Idleb (إدلب). Harem (حارم) is approximately ten kilometers from Banabel (بنابل), the northernmost site in the region, and about fifteen kilometers from Qalb Lozeh (قلب لوزة), the region’s most important site. The road leading up to Jebel al-Aala (جبل الأعلى) begins about two kilometers to the east of Harem (حارم), on the road coming into town from Aleppo (حلب). From there, it should be possible to hitchhike the remaining eight kilometers south to Banabel (بنابل), but traffic is relatively light. The alternative would be to hire a private driver in Harem (حارم).
The less commonly traveled route, which is actually closer to the main site of Qalb Lozeh (قلب لوزة), is via the town of Qurqaniya (قورقنيا), to the east of Jebel al-Aala (جبل الأعلى). Qurqaniya (قورقنيا) has semi-frequent microbus connections with Aleppo (حلب) and Idleb (إدلب) and is about six kilometers southeast of Qalb Lozeh (قلب لوزة). The main road through Qurqaniya (قورقنيا) continues west, then northwest across a small valley. On the opposite end of the valley a steep road ascends to Jebel al-Aala (جبل الأعلى). Qalb Lozeh (قلب لوزة) is found to the left directly beyond this ascent. Traffic seems a bit more frequent on this route, so hitchhiking should be possible, or a private driver could be hired in Qurqaniya (قورقنيا).
Once in Jebel al-Aala (جبل الأعلى), there are approximately eight sites of interest. With an early arrival to the region, they can all be visited in a full day of exploration on foot. Qalb Lozeh (قلب لوزة) is the largest village in the area and the most well-known site, so it may be preferable to start there, especially if traveling the Qurqaniya (قورقنيا) route. If traveling from Harem (حارم), it may be preferable to start at the northernmost site of Banabel (بنابل) and continue south from there.
Coordinates: 36°12’01.99″N / 36°33’41.31″E
Transliteration Variants: Banabil, Bnabil, Bnabel
Rating: (4 / 10)