• Amadiya

The most stunning aspect of the village of Amadiya (also known as Amedy or Amedi) is its location: perched along the cliffs on the top of a lofty mountain. In fact, Amadiya is what remains of an ancient fortress town; and while little is left of the old buildings, the town still affords stunning views across the surrounding fields and the snow-capped mountains looking down to the Sapna River Valley. For centuries, visitors who wanted to access the village could only do so by climbing a staircase cut into the face of the mountain. The village itself is still easily recognizable, perched atop a plateau on the top of a mountain, a strategic position. Surrounded by high ramparts and entered by a single door, the village walls were extremely hard to breach.

The city dates to the Assyrian period and was once a Jewish center in the surrounding region. According to the historian Erich Brauer, Jewish legend held that two brothers by the name of Josef and David arrived in the city as traveling peasants and found it so beautiful that they asked the local pasha (political leader) if they might stay. The pasha refused, so the brothers left and cast a spell on him, causing him to fall ill. The pasha sent messengers after them, promising to grant their wish; and thus the first synagogues in the village were built. Local Christian tradition holds that it may also have been the home of the magi who traveled to Bethlehem to visit Jesus upon his birth.

Today, the city is famous for the Bahdinan Gate—also called the Sipna Gate or Mosul Gate—a stunning entrance made of stone with looped carvings around the perimeter and an original stone stairscase. The stone minaret of the village mosque also dates from the 15th century.


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