Jan 22, 2007 - road to damascus series    Comments Off

Road to Damascus 31 – Palmyra Ruins

Description of Palmyra Ruins

Breathless beauties of pink

wind themselves around

the stems of ancient ruins.

Desert camels start the

short journeys, disgusted

by the bright tourists

on their back.

Woven textiles,

precious stones,

plastic baubles,

coke for 5 liras.

In one spellbinding moment

history becomes as alluring

as the sand and wind,

that surround us.

Camel at the Palmyra ruins

Palmyra was an important ancient caravan city. It had underground springs that made it an oasis along one of the main trade routes linking the East with the Roman Empire in the West. It reached its peak of wealth and importance in the 2nd and 3rd Centuries AC. The most famous of it’s rulers was a Queen named Zenobia. She however got a little power hungry and tried to make her son emperor. The crushing of this rebellion by Rome in 271 AC ended Palmyra’s rise to fame and fortune, and marked its decline into obscurity. By the time the Muslims entered in the 7th Century with Khalid ibn Walid at the head, the city had largely been abandoned to the desert. Today its ruins are some of the most beautiful in the world and Palmyra also called the “bride of the desert” is arguably the biggest attraction in the Middle East after the pyramids.

I visited Palmyra twice. Once on a class trip and the second time with British friends. I could have gone again and again. This place is just beyond amazing. It has so much history, importance and even a kind of romance that just attracts all kinds of people… tourists from all over the world, Indiana Jones types, professors of history, adventurers. There’s just something about taking a camel ride through the ruins of a once thriving, wealthy ancient city. Definitely one of the highlights of my life.

There are lots of pictures here. Basically all Roman cities had this one main street in the middle of town and they were always lined with roman columns called a colonande. You can see some pictures of those. Oh and sometimes wealthy patrons would pay for part of the road and they would get to have a little statue of themselves on the column to show they payed for it! There are also pictures of what were once temples,the public roman baths, above ground aqueducts, tombs, a theater, tetrapylon (the four corner thingie which is basically an ancient roundabout), forum (marketplace or main square). And you thought you’d never need to know all that junk from the Ancient Rome chapter in 9th grade ;)

Palmyra today is a huge tourist attraction. There are a number of hotels and the modern city that’s sprung up around the ruins is called Tadmoor. As soon as we got there, all these camel renter guys and hawkers of tourist baubles like plastic beads and postcards all but mobbed us. AND they all spoke English… better English than spoken in Damascus!

I have to say I fell in love with Palmyra. I’ve written pages and pages in my journal about it, it’s history, buildings, ambience, people there…so will add that all later inshaAllah. I also wrote a fictional short story based on Palmyra — called Qalat an-Noor. Check it out if you haven’t read it yet under the blog category writings ;)

Link to the pictures of Palmyra Ruins

Comments are closed.