Geographical position

The region of Kessab is located 60 km south of Antioch, on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean.  It consists of the town of Kessab and its surrounding 12 villages, which are nestled on the western, south-eastern and southern outskirts of Mount Cassius’ 1800 meter peak.  The name Cassius was given to the mountain during the Greco-Roman era, during the Crusades it was called Mount Perlier, and in Arabic it is known as ‘Al-Jabal Al-Akraa’, meaning bald mountain (due to the lack of vegetation on the mountain itself).

On a hill (1250 meter elevation) south-east of Cassius Mountain are the remains of an ancient pilgrimage site called Balloom or Barloom where the remains of what appears to be a Greco-Roman temple can be found.  References to this site made by Greco-Roman historians describe it as the holy mountain of the god Zeus. On these ruins are the more recent remains of a monastery, believed to be of the Mount Parleri monastery (Abbatiam Montis Parleri) dating to the Latin dukedom of Antioch.

The northern and eastern borders of Kessab form the current Syrian-Turkish border. To the south, Kessab borders a series of Turkmen villages dotted between a place known as Leghechor and the Mediterranean Sea; while to the west, Kessab borders the Mediterranean Sea.  However due to the roughness of the terrain, the only accessible beach is that of Karadouran.

In 1939, the region of Kessab was divided into two parts: a Syrian part and a Turkish part. This situation still exits to this day. Although the majority of Armenian-populated villages were left on the Syrian side, the peak of Mount Cassius and other important territories were annexed to Turkey. The shoreline, which extended to the hillock chain called ‘Antu Magharenniru’, that blocks the roads leading to the bay of Seleucia Pieria, was curtailed to the bay of Karadouran. The northern borders, which extended to the northern slopes of mount Cassius facing the Amanos series, were limited to the southern slopes instead. These vast areas that were annexed to Turkey formed more than one third of the area of historic Kessab and included most of the agricultural estates where grazing-lands, fields and orchards were located. Thus, only the southern and south-western parts of historic Kessab are part of Syria – forming what is today known as the region of Kessab.

The region of Kessab includes the main town of Kessab and its surrounding villages of Sev Aghpyur, the Inner Village (or Eskioran), Khayet, Cheenar, Chakaljek, Keorkuneh and Ekizoluk; each which lie about 1-4 km from each other.  To the east of the last four villages is the valley of Doozaghaj, harboring a homonym village.  In the western part of Kessab are the villages of Karadouran and Bashord.  The village of Karadouran extends along a deep and narrow valley that reaches to the aforementioned bay. The southern side of the valley is formed by Mount Silderan, and the northern side is formed by a series of hillocks that are also the border with Turkey. The village of Bashord, being adjacent to the Turkish border, is unpopulated and somewhat deserted due to the repatriation of 1948.  On the southern slopes of mount Silderan are the villages of Upper-Bahgjaghaz, Lower-Baghjaghaz and Chatallek.

As just described, the region of Kessab looks from a distance like a mountain-fortress that overlooks the surrounding territory. From certain peaks and crests, visibility extends to the following: the delta of the Orontes River, Mount Mousa and the Amamnos Mountain chain to the north; the plains of Aleppo to the east; the city of Lattakia to the south; and on particularly clear days, the island of Cyprus to the west.