Qara (قارة) is a nondescript town located on the main highway between Damascus (دمشق) and Homs (حمص). It has a couple sites of historic interest, making it worth a stop if traveling through the area. Of primary interest are the well-preserved frescoes from the 10th century that are located in the Greek Orthodox Church of Saint Sergius and Bacchus. Though some of the frescoes have been moved to the National Museum in Damascus, several remain in this otherwise humble church. It is located just north of the main road that travels east/west through town. The caretaker of the church may need to be tracked down in order to gain access to the building.
Also worth visiting is the former Basilica of Saint Nicholas, which was converted to a mosque in the 13th century. The Byzantine-era facade remains well-preserved, and the mosque is open during regular times of prayer. Outside of these hours, a caretaker may need to be located to gain access. The mosque is south of the main road through the town, and southeast of the church.
Getting There: Infrequent microbuses travel between Damascus (دمشق) and Qara (قارة), departing from the large bus station at al-Thawra al-Arabiyeh al-Kabra Square (ساحة الثورة العربية الكبرى), which is northeast of al-Abaseen Square (ساحة العباسيين) and generally referred to simply as Karajat (كرجات). Since Qara (قارة) is on the main highway, it may be faster to hop on one of the countless buses traveling from Damascus (دمشق) to Homs (حمص) or Aleppo (حلب) and disembark on the edge of town. Either way, the trip takes about one hour.
About two kilometers to the west of Qara (قارة) is the monastery of Deir Mar Yaqoub (دير مار يعقوب). Qara (قارة) is located about 10 kilometers north of al-Nabk (النبك) and can therefore easily be combined with a visit to Deir Mar Musa (دير مار موسى) and/or Yabrud (يبرود).
Coordinates: 34°09’11.38″N / 36°44’44.77″E
Transliteration Variants: Qarah, Qareh
Rating: (4 / 10)