Palmyra… bride of the desert
Imagine waking up and peering out of your tent to see this – Palmyra, once a vast city, now a huge collection of ruins in the desert.
I’d arrived the night before and our group had been allowed to camp outside the Temple of Baal (the same Baal I’d later encounter at Baalbek in Lebanon). After packing our camping gear away we went to explore this amazing site – I’d been sneaking around Palmyra in the dark the night before, so I was keen to see it in the day light.
Palmyra was once described as “the bride of the desert” – it got that name because it was such a lively stop on the ancient caravan routes for travellers and merchants. The first city on the site was called “Tadmur” and is thought to have been built by none other than King Solomon some 4,000 years ago.
The great thing about archaeological sites in Syria is that you often have them to youself as this a part of the world that does get that many tourists compared with similar places in Europe.
Palmyra’s highlights are the theatre with it’s Royal Gate, the Great Colonnade, the Temple of Baal and the Tretrapylon. One interesting thing about the Great Colonnade is it’s monumental arch which was built by the Roman emperor Septimius Severus. Apparently he had it built because the line of the colonnade wasn’t built in line with the other main road through the city – it seems that ‘cowboy’ builders have been around for thousands of years!
The Tetrapylon was also built to mask the first deviation of the Great Colonnade – clever those Romans, but perhaps a little over the top!?
Palmyra is a ‘must-see’ if you visit Syria and besides the main ruins there are also other things to see as well. The tower tombs on a hillside nearby at a place sometimes referred to as “Valley of the Tombs” are worth checking out, as is the 13th century “Palmyra castle” (Fakhr-al-Din al-Ma’ani Castle) which overlooks Palmyra and has an amazing view across the site.
Check out more pictures from Palmyra: