"One of the Great Cities of the Ancient World" Top 5 Page for this destination Palmyra by atufft

Palmyra Travel Guide: 237 reviews and 767 photos

We arrived by Bus at Midnight

In ancient times, it took four days of travel across barren desert to reach the oasis of Palmyra. For us it took about four hours by bus. When we arrived at about midnight, we had to knock on the locked door of the hotel to which we had been directed. The bus driver kept the motor on and stayed until the owner opened the door. Our room was modest but quite adequate, with a bathroom of its own. No matter: we weren't there for rest and relaxation. The following morning we awoke to bright sunlight and the opportunity to spend the day hiking for miles around the ancient city. The amount of hiking was so much that Belinda decided to return for rest at the hotel during the afternoon. I climbed to the top of the Arab fortress on the hill, and otherwise did whatever I could to photograph this wonderful place within the time we had available. Known as Palmyra to westerners, Tadmor is the name used for the area even before the city was built, and is the name used by Arabs of the Middle East today. Those who have been there frequently comment on the green patina shown in this photo. Yes, there was very fine patina of short grass present at the time of our visit, due likely to a rainstorm from a few days before. Some images among my tips have delicate red colored poppies sticking up between stone fragments too.

The Alternate Route Plan to Alleppo was Dashed

There are a number of other ruins in the desert of eastern Syria which I would have like to visit, some older, some newer than Palmyra, but none nearly as great. The extent of the broken fragments of buildings is so extensive that the ancient city was very populated, perhaps into the hundreds of thousands of residents. Thus, the opportunity to find more such ruins pressed itself upon my mind. Unfortunately, the time and cost of getting a car and driver proved too inconvenient at the time. So, at the close of the second day we climbed aboard the small public bus returning to Hama, where we swapped vehicles in the night for yet another van headed for Aleppo. Our time in Palmyra was one of quite solitude without any bother from vendors of camel rides or Roman coins. Tourists who have relied upon these tips have reported that the site is somewhat busier nowadays, and that Japanese and French tourists flock to the site in tour buses. Even so, given its remote location quite near the western bordere of Iraq, travelers can expect to avoid the sorts of overbearing crowds found for ruins of comparable stature in Turkey, Jordan, or Egypt.

Palmyra was an Oasis on the Silk Route

Palmyra was at it's height of power hundreds of years before Mohammad, the Palmyran's spoke Aramaic, not Arabic, but the city probably had visitors from remote merchant cities in Asia and Europe. The origin of the Christianized name for which the city has long been known in the west--the city of palms--appears to be Biblical, since Solomon claims to have built the city. In any case, what's remarkable about Palmyra is its size and great state of preservation. This is a metropolis in ruins that's isolated in the desert. At the crossroads for the silk trade between Rome and China, Palmyran's enjoyed substantial wealth and considerable independence at the height of the Roman Empire. Reliefs and tomb momuments show Palmyrans dressed in silk clothes, and the quality of the ruins, often built of imported stone, provides evidence of both wealth and creativity. The Temple of Bal is huge, large enough to be used later as a Byzantine and Arab fortress. One can easily spend a day or two wander the streets of Palmyra examining among the stone fragments countless examples of high artistic talent.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Ruins aren't surrounded by urban life
  • Cons:Close to Iraqi border inside a slightly creepy country
  • In a nutshell:Can't miss Palmyra if you visit Syria
  • Last visit to Palmyra: Apr 1997
  • Intro Updated Apr 16, 2007
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Reviews (22)

Comments (8)

  • Arkeolog's Profile Photo
    Sep 21, 2010 at 12:51 AM

    Great page on Palmyra. I'll be there in November 2010.

  • toonsarah's Profile Photo
    Apr 19, 2008 at 6:56 AM

    We were in Palmyra not long after you, but in the scorching heat of summer! You've captured the ruins so well, and I love the views from the Arab Citadel

  • TheWanderingCamel's Profile Photo
    Apr 16, 2007 at 10:10 PM

    Your opening photo is amazing. I've been to Palmyra 3 times in April now and have never seen it green like that! leyle

  • Jim_Eliason's Profile Photo
    Feb 17, 2007 at 4:08 PM

    fantastic page Alan! another place to add to my list of must see sights.

  • Sininen's Profile Photo
    Jan 31, 2007 at 10:05 AM

    Hello Alan! I loved my virtual tour in Palmyra...so much information here and the photos...they are absolutely beautiful. Happy birthdya from Finland!

  • mikelisaanna's Profile Photo
    Jan 15, 2007 at 2:36 PM

    Before reading your page, I had never heard of Palmyra. Thanks for the interesting pages and tips.

  • Bavavia's Profile Photo
    Dec 9, 2006 at 1:39 PM

    love the palymra pictures and the picture of the palymra street with the colorful car or whatever that was there!

  • Mar 9, 2006 at 5:48 PM

    Palmyra's ruins look very interesting. I would enjoy visiting, but would be a little worried about personal safety in this part of the world. Amber Rodin

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