Baniyas Explained

Baniyas
Native Name:بانياس
Pushpin Map:Syria
Pushpin Label Position:bottom
Pushpin Map Caption:Location in Syria
Pushpin Mapsize:250
Coordinates Region:SY
Subdivision Type:Country
Subdivision Type1:Governorate
Subdivision Name1:Tartus Governorate
Subdivision Type2:District
Subdivision Name2:Baniyas District
Unit Pref:Metric
Population As Of:2008 est.
Population Total:42,128
Population Blank1 Title:Ethnicities
Population Blank2 Title:Religions
Timezone:EET
Utc Offset:+2
Timezone Dst:+3
Latd:35
Latm:10
Lats:56
Latns:N
Longd:35
Longm:56
Longs:25
Longew:E
Area Code:43

Baniyas (Arabic: بانياس ) is a city in Tartous Governorate, northwestern Syria, located at the foot of the hill of Qalaat el-Marqab (housing the Crusade castle of Marqab, Margat in western sources), 55 km to the south of Latakia (ancient Laodicea) and 35 km north of Tartous (ancient Tortosa), and a Catholic titular see under the Latin name of Balanea, which is presently vacant.

It is famous for its orchards and its export of wood. Today it is best known for its oil refinery north of the city, one of the largest in Syria; a power station is also present.

It still contains citrus fruit orchards surrounded by green hills. One of the hills has at its top the imposing Margat Citadel, a huge Knights Hospitaller fortress built with black basalt stone.

History

In Phoenician times, it was an important seaport, known to the Greeks as Balemia. Perhaps in Hellenistic times the city borrowed the name Leucas (according to Stephanus Byzantius) from the island in western Greece. The city of Balanaea, its Latin name, was a colony of Aradus (Strabo, XVI, 753), and was placed by Stephanus Byzantius in Phoenicia, though it belonged rather to the former Roman province of Syria. Its first known bishop was present at the Council of Nicaea in 325 (Lequien, Oriens Christ., II, 923). In 2011, during the 2011 Syrian uprising, Baniyas is assieged by the Syrian military.

Sources and references