Monday, April 21, 2008

Palmyra, Syria (April 16-17, 2008)

Palmyra was an important oasis rest stop for caravans traveling along the Silk Road, and it's mentioned on tablets dating back to the 19th century BC. It rose to prominence after the Roman invasion of Syria in the 1st century BC, and for several hundred years it served as a major trading center and crossroad between the east and the west.

The city's most famous ruler was Queen Zenobia, who claimed to be a descendent of Cleopatra and took the throne when her husband, King Odenathus, died under suspicious circumstances. Queen Zenobia defied Roman rule and set out to conquer Syria, lower Egypt and parts of Asia Minor. In the 3rd century AD, Roman Emperor Aurelian raised an army, besieged Palmyra and took Zenobia prisoner.

From that time on, Palmyra steadily declined while the Syrian cities of Aleppo and Damascus grew as centers of commerce. In the 12th century AD, an Arab Citadel was built overlooking the city; it was later reconstructed in the 17th century by Emir Fakhr Ad-Din. Excavations of the site began in 1900s, and it's estimated that 70 percent of the enormous city is yet to be unearthed.

The Monumental Arch, linking the Temple of Bel with the Great Colonnade. The arch marks a 30 degree angle in the street, which is rather unusual for a Roman city.
The Great Colonnade stretched for more than a thousand meters, flanked by Corinthian columns
The restored theatre
The Temple of Bel, where animals were sacrificed and banquets were held. Inside the temple are carvings depicting the signs of the zodiac and the Palmyrene Trinity of Bel, Yarhibol and Agribal.
The enormous entrance to the Temple of Bel

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


What a beautiful country Syria is! Thank you for the vicarious adventure. I really enjoyed it.