DARAA, 30 May (BelTA - SANA Agensy). - More than 1,500 years have passed since its construction, the historic Church of St. George is one of the world's architectural masterpieces that still preserves its architectural style in Izraa City, Daraa province.
The Church was built of basalt stone and it is now surmounted by an iron-made dome, after it had been surmounted by a stone-made dome for more than 1,400 years.
The Church of St. George is considered one of the most important archaeological buildings in the world because it is one of the octagonal buildings that were built in 515 AD, Head of Izraa Antiquities Department Milad Matroud told SANA.
According to Matroud, the Church's dome is wooden from the inside and it is made of iron from the outside. The huge stone pillars of the building indicate that its first dome was made of stone, and the octagonal building system in it was adopted by references to architecture in the world.
Matroud said that the Church of St. George was contemporaneous with three churches built with the same architectural system in Italy and Turkey, but it is the only one that has preserved its original shape without any significant change, which allowed this architectural masterpiece, which was built more than 1500 years ago, to be a unique model.
Eight columns carry the dome, and its walls consist of two one-meter-thick bonds. The church building contains the altar from the eastern side and its floor is made of blue basalt.
Matroud added that there is a founding text above the church door from the southwestern side written in Latin, and it documents the date of building the church, which used to be an ancient pagan temple.
The walls of the church are decorated from the outside with drawings which represent the leaves of grapes whose cultivation was common in the southern region of Syria.
Matroud said that the construction condition of the building is good, and cracks were repaired through cooperation between the General Directorate of Antiquities and Museums, the Daraa Antiquities Department and the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch.
Priest Elia Tufenkji, pastor of St. George's Greek Orthodox Church, said that this church is considered the second oldest church in the world where prayers are still held.
He added that before the past ten years, trips were organized from the Faculty of Architecture at Damascus University to the church to study it, and it was the destination of tourists from all over the world because of its unique architectural style.
During the past two months, the Church has witnessed the gradual return of foreign after the recovery in the province, according to Tufenkji.
Head of Daraa Tourism Directorate Yasser al-Saadi said: The province has begun to recover, which has allowed tourist groups to visit several tourist and archaeological sites such as the city of Bosra and the Church of St. George.