Geography and History of the Site:

This city is located in al- Badeyah in the middle of Syria, at a distance of 240 Km from Damascus, on an altitude of about 400 to 1400 m.

The location of Palmyra in the middle of Al-Sham Badeyah, forms a unique core for establishing human society since the most ancient ages. Along these northern mountain series and the series that extends from the western south to Damascus and Lebanon Mountains and to the eastern north of the capital Damascus, there are many springs that feed the oasis and the villages. Flowing from the end of the western Palmyrean mountain series, the sulfuric spring Afqa encouraged people to settle and to revive the desert, and create a great civilization.

Ruins of Palmyra spread on an area of more than 10 km² that represent what remained of the city during an epoch extending between the first and third centuries AD, which is considered one of its most flourished periods. Palmyra was the city of caravans which brought precious goods and many cultural and human traditions and impacts. So the city became a vessel, full of all arts and cultures, thus its architectural fabric became of distinctive quality that carries deeply-rooted traditions of the east and some beautiful arts of the west. In its planning, the city followed the Greco -Roman planning, common at that time in city-planning (the chess planning). It extended from Afqa spring to Ba’al temple and it contained the oasis and the necropolis outside the walls. The style of chess city planning was adopted, and the city contained the colonnade street, Agora, the theater and the bath.

At the beginning of the first century AD, Ba’al temple was built on the ruins of a Hellenistic temple, which was constructed on an archaeological tell that dates back to the second millennium BC. Other four temples were also built: Nabo, Shamin, Al-lat and Ba’al Hamoun. In the third century AD, about 300 AD, Diocletian palace was built in addition to the walls of the city, which was restored during the period of Justinian, in the sixth century AD.

General view of  the Site of palmyra

General view of  the theatre and the  grand monumental colonnaded street towards the  Castle of Fakhr-al-Din al-Ma’ani  

General view of  the theatre and the  grand monumental colonnaded street towards the  Castle of Fakhr-al-Din al-Ma’ani  

At a distance of 10 km, north of the city, there are the stone quarries, which cover the city with hard lime stones, which are used on the external parts of the buildings. As for the stone quarries of the soft limestone, used for the foundations; they were obtained from the quarries of Al-Tar mountain (behind the Arab castle), at a distance of 5 km north-west of the city.

Afqa Spring:

Many springs flow from the Palmyrean mountain series and irrigate the oasis and many villages. This special condition explains reason of existence of the human settlements since Pre-historical periods.

At a near distance from Palmyra, there are many historical caves in various sites that contain evidence that they were inhabited in periods that date back to the seventh millennium BC.

People of Palmyra practiced farming. The lush oasis of Palmyra had all kinds of plants, including palm trees. They also organized developed kinds of water canals and methods of irrigation, and established dams to collect water and organize its distribution according to a special and developed system.

They dug wells for drinking and irrigating, and established basins and reservoirs. In Palmyra, there are many archaeological sites that date back to prehistory ages, and that were mentioned in some texts of the second millennium BC. The city flourished in the Roman and Byzantine epochs, especially during the epoch of the strong queen Zanobia, and the archaeological Palmyra, the capital of the kingdom, became the most important city in the east. It competed with Rome and dominated the region, from the frontiers of Asia Minor in the north, to Egypt in the south, and from the north-east to the west of Syria and the Mediterranean. Queen Zanobia was known as the most important and powerful queens of the east, so she was named “the queen of queens of the East”.

Palmyra has continued to be an urban city of the Badeyah after the Islamic conquest, till Tamberlaine destroyed the cities of Euphrates, the thing that decreased its significance. Therefore, Palmyra lived a period of isolation with gross neglect and carelessness during the Ottoman period.

The Tetrapylon

Palmyra oasis:

The aim of the registration for Palmyra in 1937 was to link the archaeological site to the oasis. The term “archaeological park in Palmyra” that appears in the registration decision indicates this desire and shows that protection is not limited to the archaeological site only. The oasis consists of palm trees and reaches an area of ​​about 3 thousand hectares. The Greeks, who founded the Macedonian Kingdom at the end of the fourth century BC, gave the city the name Palmyra to denote the palm trees that grow in it. Olives, pomegranates and palm trees are also cultivated in it. Its oasis is the largest among the three oases of Syria. The image of large palm trees swaying in the air against a sky-blue background gives an additional tourist value to the site.

Fakhr al-Din al-Ma’ani II Castle:

This castle is attributed to Emir Fakhr al-Din al-Ma`ni II (17th century AD), but its architecture indicates that it dates back to the Ayyubid period (12-13 AD). The castle is located on a rocky mound in the northwest of Palmyra at a height of (150 m) above the surface of the city.

The castle has an irregular trapezoidal plan, and it is built with rough limestone with a face trim, and its walls are high fortified walls supported by square and rectangular towers (18 towers) interspersed with windows Notable for throwing stones and smoldering materials, it has several floors.

Valley of the Tombs:

Each Palmyra family had its own local tomb, decorated with stucco decorations, carved stone and frescoes. The burial is usually equipped with a well for watering and disinfection and closed with a door made of carved stone with a writing on its lintel mentioning the name of the burial’s founder, his family, the date of its founding and its participants, the burials are distributed in the north, southeast, southwest and west along the valley.


The Triumph Arch

The Tetrapylon:

It is the crossroads of the two main roads in the city and the crucifix consists of four opposite bases on top of each of which are four granite columns with Corinthian capitals, statues of prominent figures in the city were erected between the columns.

The Theater:

Its construction dates back to the second century AD, and it is in the form of a radius of (50 m) in the form of a (13) stairway for the audience and a podium with a beautiful façade carried on columns containing extremely accurate and beautiful niches in which statues of the goddess of arts and beauty are erected, and the theater courtyard is paved with stone Carved.

Ba’al Temple:

It is considered one of the largest and most famous religious temples in the ancient East. It was built in the first century AD and continued to be built and expanded until the end of the Palmyra era until it became massive (220 x 205) meters, and its walls were surrounded by 375 columns, each of which is more than 18 meters long, and it is so large that no other temple in the East can parallel it. It stands out of its seven columns in the main façade and a number of others around the temple.

Outstanding Universal Value

An oasis in the Syrian desert, north-east of Damascus, Palmyra contains the monumental ruins of a great city that was one of the most important cultural centers of the ancient world. From the 1st to the 2nd century, the art and architecture of Palmyra, standing at the crossroads of several civilizations, married Greco-Roman techniques with local traditions and Persian influences.

First mentioned in the archives of Mari in the 2nd millennium BC, Palmyra was an established caravan oasis when it came under Roman control in the mid-first century AD as part of the Roman province of Syria.  It grew steadily in importance as a city on the trade route linking Persia, India and China with the Roman Empire, marking the crossroads of several civilizations in the ancient world. A grand, colonnaded street of 1100 meters’ length forms the monumental axis of the city, which together with secondary colonnaded cross streets links the major public monuments including the Temple of Ba’al, Diocletian’s Camp, the Agora, Theatre, other temples and urban quarters. Architectural ornament including unique examples of funerary sculpture unites the forms of Greco-roman art with indigenous elements and Persian influences in a strongly original style. Outside the city’s walls are remains of a Roman aqueduct and immense necropolises.

Discovery of the ruined city by travelers in the 17th and 18th centuries resulted in its subsequent influence on architectural styles.

Registration Criterions to the UNESCO WHL (1980)

Criterion (i): The splendor of the ruins of Palmyra, rising out of the Syrian desert north-east of Damascus is testament to the unique aesthetic achievement of a wealthy caravan oasis intermittently under the rule of Rome from the 1st to the 3rd century AD. The grand colonnade constitutes a characteristic example of a type of structure which represents a major artistic development.

Criterion (ii): Recognition of the splendor of the ruins of Palmyra by travelers in the 17th and 18th centuries contributed greatly to the subsequent revival of classical architectural styles and urban design in the West.

Criterion (iv): The grand monumental colonnaded street, open in the centre with covered side passages, and subsidiary cross streets of similar design together with the major public buildings, form an outstanding illustration of architecture and urban layout at the peak of Rome’s expansion in and engagement with the East. The great temple of Ba’al is considered one of the most important religious buildings of the 1st century AD in the East and of unique design. The carved sculptural treatment of the monumental archway through which the city is approached from the great temple is an outstanding example of Palmyrene art. The large scale funerary monuments outside the city walls in the area known as the Valley of the Tombs display distinctive decoration and construction methods.



Palmyrene wealthy caravan oasis


The great temple of Ba’al


The Tetrapylon


The large scale funerary monuments outside the city walls Valley of the Tombs


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