Home Tylos to Thassos 2010 The ancient sights of Palmyra
The ancient sights of Palmyra
Written by The Friendship Arabia Team   
Tuesday, 29 June 2010 23:36

Camels walk past the ruins of Palmyra

Early this morning, we left Damascus and took a three-hour drive to Palmyra. We visited the  Ba'al Temple, the Ancient City and the museum.

Palmyra  was an ancient Aramaic city. In times past, it was an important city of central Syria, located in an oasis 215 km northeast of Damascus and 180 km southwest of the Euphrates at Deir ez-Zor. It has long been a vital caravan city for travelers crossing the Syrian desert and was known as the Bride of the Desert.

The city was ruled by Queen Zenobia who rebelled against Roman authority with the help of Cassius Longinus and took over Bosra and lands as far to the west as Egypt, establishing the short-lived Palmyrene Empire. Next, she attempted to take Antioch to the north. In 272, the Roman Emperor Aurelian finally retaliated and captured her and brought her back to Rome. He paraded her in golden chains but allowed her to retire to a villa in Tibur, where she took an active part in society for years. This rebellion greatly disturbed Rome, and so Palmyra was forced by the empire to become a military base for the Roman legions.

 The Temple of Ba'al

The most striking building in Palmyra is the huge temple of Ba'al, considered "the most important religious building of the first century AD in the Middle East". It originated as a Hellenistic temple, of which only fragments of stones survive. The central shrine (cella) was added in the early 1st century AD, followed by a large double colonnaded portico in Corynthian style. The west portico and the entrance (propylaeum) date from the 2nd century. The temple measures 205 x 210 m.

Today, Palmyra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that attracts thousands of visitors every year to take a peek at what was once a great city ruled by a great queen.

Aerial view of the ruins of Palmyra