Tetraconch Church at Rusafa
Rusafa, Syria
This Byzantine period church at Rusafa is named after its architectural plan, whose central feature is a space marked by four apses (tetraconch), one on each wall roughly aligned with the cardinal directions forming the shape of a cross. The building is dated on stylistic and archaeological grounds to the first part of the sixth century AD. It is located along the arcaded and shop-lined street that ran southward from the city's monumental northern gate.

The plan of the church led early scholars to deduce that it served as a martyrium but this interpretation has been called into question by more recent archaeological scholarship.1 The central tetraconch space described above is surrounded by an ambulatory on three sides (north, south and west). On the east side, the apse is instead flanked by two side rooms of rectangular shape, each with a smaller apse facing east. Surrounding the building is a courtyard which communicates through two tetrapyla with the arcaded and shop-lined street. 


1. Guyer, "Ruṣāfa," 28-33.


Guyer, Samuel. "Ruṣāfa." In Archäolodische Reise im Euphrat- und Tigris-Gebiet. Vol. 2., by Friedrich Sarre and Ernst Herzfeld, pp. 1-45. Berlin: D. Reimer, 1920.
Rusafa, Syria
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early 6th century AD
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