al-Zeitoun Church (كنيسة الزيتون), located in the Bab Sharqi (باب شرقي) neighborhood of the old city of Damascus (دمشق), is the seat of the Greek Catholic patriarchate and one of the most attractive churches in the city. The church was built in 1833-1834 after Sultan Mahmoud II (محمود الثاني) eased restrictions placed upon Christians under the Ottoman Empire that prohibited the construction of new churches. The church was heavily damaged during sectarian violence that engulfed much of Syria in 1860, but restorations were completed by 1864.
The church is more formally known as Cathedral of Our Lady al-Niah (كاتدرائية سيدة النياح), named after an icon of the Virgin Mary contained within. al-Zeitoun Church (كنيسة الزيتون) was constructed primarily from the black basalt stone common to the volcanic desert region southeast of the city. The design includes high vaulted ceilings supported by large columns. The ceilings, painted white, provide a beautiful contrast to the dark basalt pillars, as do the white marble floors. Well worth a look if exploring the area, the church is normally open to visitors.
Getting There: al-Zeitoun Church (كنيسة الزيتون) is located approximately two hundred meters southwest of Bab Sharqi (باب شرقي), the eastern-most gate of the old city of Damascus (دمشق), about one hundred meters south of Straight Street (الشارع المستقيم).
Coordinates: 33°30’31.00″N / 36°18’59.00″E
Transliteration Variants: al-Zeitun Church, al-Zaitoun Church, al-Zaitun Church, al-Zeytoun Church, al-Zeytun Church, al-Zaytoun Church, al-Zaytun Church
Rating: (3.5 / 10)