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View of Cyrrhus
Roman amphitheatre

Cyrrhus (; 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). Its ruins are located in northern Syria, near the Turkish border. It lies about 70 km northwest of Aleppo and 24 km west of Kilis, in Turkey. Cyrrhus was the capital of the extensive district of Cyrrhestica, between the plain of Antioch and Commagene. A false etymology of the sixth century connects it to Cyrus, king of Persia due to the resemblance of the names.

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


  • History 1
  • Church history 2
  • References 3
  • Bibliography 4
  • External links 5


Cyrrhus in Syria (Mouhafazat of Aleppo) was founded by Seleucus Nicator shortly after 300 BC, and was named for 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 Justinian. It was 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]

Church history

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,[5] well known for his rôle in the history of Nestorianism and Eutychianism. 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.[6][7][8] No longer a residential bishopric, Cyrrhus is today listed by the Catholic Church as a titular see.[9]

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. Theodoret devoted an entire work to the illustration of their virtues and miracles.[10]


  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. ^ His works are in Jacques Paul Migne (ed.), Patrologia Graeca, LXXX-LXXXIV.
  6. ^ Raymond Janin, v. Cyrrhus in Dictionnaire d'Histoire et de Géographie ecclésiastiques, vol. XIII, Paris 1956, coll. 1186-1187
  7. ^ Michel Lequien, Oriens christianus in quatuor Patriarchatus digestus, Paris 1740, Vol. II, coll. 929-934
  8. ^ Franz Cumont, Etudes syriennes, Paris 1917, pp. 221 ff.
  9. ^ Annuario Pontificio 2013 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2013 ISBN 978-88-209-9070-1), p. 870
  10. ^ Siméon Vailhé, "Cyrrhus" in Catholic Encyclopedia (New York 1908)


  • 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.

External links

  • Archeological excavations at Cyrrhus/Nebi Houri
  • Cyrrhus at
  • Cyrrhus/Nabi Huri at

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