One of the more interesting churches in Damascus (دمشق) is the small underground chapel known as the Church of Saint Hananiya (كنيسة القديس حنانيا) in the old city neighborhood of Bab Sharqi (باب شرقي). According to local tradition, the church was originally part of the Roman-era home of Hananiya (also known as Ananias). While it is roughly five meters below ground level today, this was likely the street level during the Roman period. Archaeological excavations in 1921 found the remains of a Byzantine church from the 5th or 6th century, adding physical evidence to support local tradition that the chapel has an early Christian origin.
The Church of Saint Hananiya (كنيسة القديس حنانيا) is a simple structure consisting of two small rooms with bare stone walls. It houses only a small altar, some icons and a few pews. It represents the simplicity of the early Christians and is one of the oldest churches still standing where services continue to be held to this day. The icons in the church tell the story of the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, who would become Paul the Apostle. In this biblical account, Hananiya (Ananias) received a divine revelation instructing him to visit Saul, and by placing his hand’s upon him restored Saul’s vision. According to Catholic tradition, Hananiya (Ananias) died a martyr in Eleutheropolis.
Getting There: The Church of Saint Hananiya (كنيسة القديس حنانيا) is located approximately two hundred meters north of Straight Street (الشارع المستقيم) and Bab Sharqi (باب شرقي), the eastern-most gate of the old city of Damascus (دمشق). Follow the first road that runs north from the old city side of Bab Sharqi (باب شرقي).
Coordinates: 33°30’42.00″N / 36°19’03.00″E
Transliteration Variants: Church of Saint Hanania, Church of Saint Hananiah, Church of Saint Hananiyah
Rating: (3 / 10)