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Nebi HuriNorth.jpg
View of Cyrrhus.
Cyrrhus is located in Syria
Shown within Syria
Location Aleppo Governorate, Syria
Coordinates 36°44′39″N 36°57′33″E / 36.74417°N 36.95917°E / 36.74417; 36.95917Coordinates: 36°44′39″N 36°57′33″E / 36.74417°N 36.95917°E / 36.74417; 36.95917
Type Settlement
Builder Seleucus I Nicator
Founded 300 BC
Site notes
Condition In ruins

Cyrrhus (/ˈsɪrəs/; Greek: Κύρρος Kyrrhos) was a city in ancient Syria founded by Seleucus Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals. Other names for the city include Hagioupolis, Nebi Huri (Arabic: نبي حوري), Khoros (حوروس Ḳūrus). A false etymology of the sixth century connects it to Cyrus, king of Persia due to the resemblance of the names. The former Roman/Byzantine (arch)bishopric is now a double Catholic titular see.


Its ruins are located in northern Syria, near the Turkish border.

It lies about 70 km northwest of Aleppo and 24 km west of Killis, in Turkey. Cyrrhus was the capital of the extensive district of Cyrrhestica, between the plain of Antioch and Commagene.

The site of the city is marked by the ruins at Khoros, 20 km from Azaz, Syria, standing near the river Afrin Marsyas River, a tributary of the Orontes, which had been banked up by Bishop Theodoret.


The Cyrrhus in Syria was founded by Seleucus Nicator shortly after 300 BC, and was named after the Macedonian city of Cyrrhus. It was taken by the Armenian Empire in the 1st century BC, then became Roman when Pompey took Syria in 64 BC. By the 1st century AD, it had become a Roman administrative, military, and commercial center on the trade route between Antioch and the Euphrates River crossing at Zeugma, and minted its own coinage.[1] It was the base of the Roman legion Legio X Fretensis.[2] The Sassanid Persian Empire took it several times during the 3rd century.[3]

In the 6th century, the city was embellished and fortified by Byzantine Emperor Justinian. It was however taken by the Muslims in 637 and known at that time under the name of Qorosh and later by the Crusaders in the 11th century. Nur ad-Din Zangi recaptured it in 1150. Muslim travelers of the 13th and 14th century report it both as a large city and as largely in ruins.[4]


The well-preserved Roman amphitheatre is among the largest in Syria.

The city has been excavated by the Lebanese Syrian Archaeological Mission of Cyrrhus.[5] Initial results indicate a square layout with Hippodamian grid road plan and a central main road with Colonnades typical of the Hellenistic east . The road layout seems to have survived until into the Islamic times. Remains in Cyrrhus include two Roman Bridge s in working order, a dilapidated theatre outside the town and foundations of a Basilica church and some city fortifications. In the 6th century a Byzantine citadel was built on the top of the hill behind the theatre.[6] with evidence of Greek and Egyptian influences in the design work.[7] [8] This citadel is still largely unexcavated.

Ecclesiastical history[edit]

Cyrrhus became a Christian bishopric at an early date, a suffragan of Hierapolis Bambyce, capital and metropolitan see of the Roman province of Euphratensis. Under Justinian, it became an autocephalous ecclesiastical metropolis subject directly to the Patriarch of Antioch but without suffragans. Its bishop Syricius was present at the First Council of Nicaea in 325. The Arian Abgar (Latinized as Abgarus or Augarus) was at the Council of Seleucia (360). Theodoret mentions as another Arian a bishop called Asterius of the time of the Roman Emperor Valens (364–378). Isidorus attended the First Council of Constantinople in 381. The most celebrated of the bishops of Cyrrhus is Theodoret himself (423-458), a prolific writer,[9] well known for his rôle in the history of Nestorianism, Eutychianism, and Marcionism. He tells us that his small diocese (about forty miles square) contained 800 churches, which supposes a very dense population. In 476, a bishop named Ioannes held a synod against Peter the Fuller. At the close of that century the bishop was a Nestorian named Sergius, who was replaced by another of the same name who was of the directly opposite theological opinion, being a Jacobite, and was deposed by Emperor Justin I in 518. Michael the Syrian lists 13 other Jacobite bishops of the see.[10][11][12]

A magnificent basilica held the relics of Saints Cosmas and Damian, who had suffered martyrdom in the vicinity about 283, and whose bodies had been transported to the city, whence it was also called Hagioupolis. Many holy personages, moreover, chiefly hermits, had been or were then living in this territory, among them Saints Acepsimas, Zeumatius, Zebinas, Polychronius, Maron (the patron of the Maronite Church), Eusebius, Thalassius, Maris, James the Wonder-worker, and others. Bishop Theodoret devoted an entire work to the illustration of their virtues and miracles.[13]

Known (Arch)Bishops of Cyrrhus[edit]

Name Dates Churchmanship Notes Picture
Syricius 325 at First Council of Nicaea
Abgar 360 Arian at Council of Seleucia (360)
Asterius 364–378 Arian
Isidorus 381 at First Council of Constantinople
Theodoret of Cyrrhus 423-458
Ioannes 476 held a synod against Peter the Fuller
Sergius I of Cyrrhus late 5th century Nestorian was deposed by Emperor Justin I
Sergius II of Cyrrhus 518 Jacobite [14]
John of Cyrrhus[15] c628 Orthodox???
12 Jacobite Bishops
John of Cyrrhus[16]

The city was taken in the early 11th century by the Crusaders who made new Bishopric, dependent on Edessa under the name Coricié.

Titular sees[edit]

No longer a residential bishopric, Cyrrhus is today listed by the Catholic Church as a titular see,[17]in two different rite-specific traditions, in the apostolic succession of the Byzantine archdiocese.

Latin titular see[edit]

Established no later then as Titular archbishopric]] of Cyrrhus (Latin) / Cirro (Curiate Italian) / Cyrrhen(sis) (Latin adjective)

It is vacant since decades, having had the following icnumebnts, of the fitting Archiepeiscoapl rank with an Episcopal (lowest) exception :

  • José Rafael Pulido Méndez (1961.01.16 – 1966.11.22)
  • Mário de Miranda Villas-Boas (1956.10.23 – 1959.06.20)
  • Louis Ferrand (1956.04.17 – 1956.10.28)
  • Guilford Clyde Young (1954.10.10 – 1955.09.20)
  • Eris Norman Michael O’Brien (1951.01.11 – 1953.11.16)
  • Silvestro Patrizio Mulligan, Capuchin Franciscans (O.F.M. Cap.) (1950.08.16 – 1950.10.23)
  • Juan José Aníbal Mena Porta (1941.06.14 – 1949.02.25)
  • Ferdinando Fiandaca (1930.08.01 – 1941.02.18)
  • Archbishop-elect Giuseppe Pizzardo (1930.03.28 – 1930.04.22) (later Cardinal)
  • Gennaro Cosenza (1930.01.02 – 1930.03.20)
  • Serafino Cimino, Friars Minor (O.F.M.) (1924.12.18 – 1928.05.04)
  • Vilmos Batthyány (1920.12.16 – 1923.11.24)
  • Joaquim José Vieira (1912.11.08 – 1917.07.08)
  • Ludovít Szmrecsányi (1912.03.26 – 1912.08.20)
  • Louis-André Navarre, Sacred Heart Missionaries M.S.C. (1888.08.17 – 1912.01.17)
  • Nikolaus Adames (1883.11.02 – 1887.02.13)
  • Loudovico of St. Teresa Martini, O.C.D. (1845.09.30 – 1883.07.12)
  • Luca de Cigalla (1832.07.27 – 1847.02.12)
  • Ignazio Nasalli-Ratti (1819.12.17 – 1827.06.25) (later Cardinal)
  • Titular Bishop: John Wallace (1720.04.30 – 1733.06.30)
  • Carolus Polodig, Teresian Carmelites (O.C.D.) (1713.12.23 – 1714.07.07)

Maronite titular see[edit]

No later then 1896 was established the Titular archbishopric of Cyrrhus / Cirro (Curiate Italian) / Cyrrhen(sis) Maronitarum (Latin adjective).

In 1956 it was suppressed, having had only these incumbents, both of the fitting Archiepiscopal (intermediate) rank :

  • Joseph Estefan (1896.09.24 – death 1915.07.04) without prelature
  • Elia Scedid (1926.06.21 – death 1950.01.18) (born Lebanon), no prelature.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica, 11th ed, s.v. numismatics
  2. ^ Dow, Joseph A., Ancient Coins Through the Bible, p. 67.
  3. ^ Ivan Mannheim, Syria and Lebanon Handbook: The Travel Guide, Footprint, 2001. ISBN 978-1-900949-90-3.
  4. ^ Guy Le Strange, Palestine Under the Moslems: A Description of Syria and the Holy Land from A.D. 650 to 1500, London, 1890.
  5. ^ First results on the city planning of Cyrrhus (Syria) Abdul Massih, Benech, Gelin ArcheoSciences,revue d’archéométrie, suppl. 33, 2009, p. 201-203.
  6. ^ Cyrrhus.
  7. ^ Cyrrhus at
  8. ^ Richard Stillwell, William L. MacDonald, Marian Holland McAllister, Stillwell, Richard, MacDonald, William L., McAlister, Marian Holland KYRRHOS Syria. in The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites]
  9. ^ His works are in Jacques Paul Migne (ed.), Patrologia Graeca, LXXX-LXXXIV.
  10. ^ Raymond Janin, v. Cyrrhus in Dictionnaire d'Histoire et de Géographie ecclésiastiques, vol. XIII, Paris 1956, coll. 1186-1187
  11. ^ Michel Lequien, Oriens christianus in quatuor Patriarchatus digestus, Paris 1740, Vol. II, coll. 929-934
  12. ^ Franz Cumont, Etudes syriennes, Paris 1917, pp. 221 ff.
  13. ^ Siméon Vailhé, "Cyrrhus" in Catholic Encyclopedia (New York 1908)
  14. ^ The Chronicle of Michael the Great, Patriarch of the Syrians 89.
  15. ^ The Chronicle of Michael the Great, Patriarch of the Syrians 122.
  16. ^ The Chronicle of Michael the Great, Patriarch of the Syrians 122.
  17. ^ Annuario Pontificio 2013 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2013 ISBN 978-88-209-9070-1), p. 870

Sources and external links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Abdul Massih J., 2008, Edmond Frézouls à Cyrrhus : les débuts de la recherche archéologique en Syrie, Document d’Archéologie Syrienne XIV, pp. 424–428.
  • Abdul Massih J., 2008, Edmond Frézouls et les publications archéologiques syriennes, Document d’Archéologie Syrienne XIV, pp. 428–430.
  • Abdul Massih J., 2006-2007, évaluation de l’état général du site archéologique de Cyrrhus – Nebi Houri Annales Archéologiques de Syrie, XLIX-L, p. 45-59.
  • ALPI F., 2011, Base de statue de Justinien ornée d’une inscription métrique (Cyrrhus, Euphratésie), Syria 88, p. 341-349.
  • Abdul Massih J, Gelin M., 2009, Notes préliminaires sur l’étude du système défensif méridional de Cyrrhus, Campagnes 2007-2008, Chroniques 2008, Damas 2010, pp. 109–218
  • Abdul Massih J., 2009, Urbanisme du site de Cyrrhus : origine et évolution ; Etat de la question, Colloque de damas 2008 sur l’urbanisme en Orient
  • Jeanine Abdul Massih, Notes préliminaires sur l’étude du système défensif méridional de Cyrrhus, Campagnes 2007-2008, Chroniques 2008, Damas 2010, pp. 109–218, Damas 2010, pp. 109–218.
  • Jeanine Abdul Massih, Les mosaïques de la maison romaine et la fortification polygonale de Cyrrhus (Nebi Houri), Notes préliminaires, Syria 2009, pp. 289–306.
  • Ivan Mannheim, Syria and Lebanon Handbook: The Travel Guide, Footprint, 2001. ISBN 978-1-900949-90-3.
  • Guy Le Strange, Palestine Under the Moslems: A Description of Syria and the Holy Land from A.D. 650 to 1500, London, 1890.