"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
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.
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 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: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
The hike to the Arab Citadel is a considerable undertaking on a hot day or for those who are already weary of the extent... more travel advice
From the crossroads at the tetrapylon, the number of standing columns is fewer, but the walk past smaller baths and... more travel advice
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