Bara is one of the greatest of the Byzantine ’Dead Cities,’ both in terms of size and variety of remains.  In the heart of Syria’s northern limestone plateau, Bara was once a dynamic center of communication and agriculture.  Blessed by a large supply of underground water, Bara grew wealthy from its olive presses and wine production, a wealth reflected in the beauty of its architecture, and the lavishness of its citizens’ tombs.  The Crusader presence from 1098 until 1148, while short-lived, was responsible for one of the bloodiest chapters of the Crusades, involving the massacre of 20,000 Muslims at Ma’aret Al Nu’maan.  Today the site includes a cathedral, four churches, houses, and a rich 3rd century Roman villa transformed into a convent, all bearing witness to the glory of this bygone age.