Busra ash Sham Travel Guide
Busra ash Sham
Busra ash Sham
Starting with the Romans, multiple epochs are on display here
The last bus to Damascus is available at 18 o'clock.
Mosque of Mabrak el-Naqa
Located north-east end of the historic centre of Bosra, the Mosque of Mabrak el-Naqa was built in 1136 AD and expanded in the 13th century. It has an usual egg-shaped white cupola over a black basalt structure, and a square black basalt minaret. It is believed to have been...
At the north-east corner of the intersection between the decumanus maximus and the cardo rose another 2nd century AD monumental structure, the Kalybé. It faced the Nymphaeum on the opposite side, and consisted of an exedra with niches flanked by two Corinthian columns. Only...
Mosque of Fatima
Dedicated to Fatima al-Zahra, the daughter of the prophet Mohammed, this mosque was built in the 11th century, during the Fatimid period. The Fatimid Empire, which extended from the Maghreb to the Levant, was ruled by a Shia dynasty who descended from the Prophet Mohammed...
The Roman Theatre of Bosra
One of the best preserved theatres in the Roman world, that of Bosra is the crown jewel of archaeological interest in the city and a testament to its importance in ancient times. The majestic theatre was built in the middle of the 2nd century AD, within decades after the...
South Roman Baths
Located at the southern end of the city, Bosra's South Baths were the largest in the city. They were built in the 2nd century AD, on a T-shape plan with a colonnaded portico along the façade overlooking the decumanus maximus, the east-west axis of the Bosra. The interior...
Roman Theatre - Citadel Fortifications
Soon after the Arabs conquered Bosra in the 7th century AD, they converted the city's disused Roman Theatre into a defensive Citadel surrounded by a moat. Successive empires and dynasties, from the Omayyads to the Fatimids, Seljuks and Ayyubids, continued to fortify the...
Completed in the Omayyad period in 720 AD, al-Omari Mosque is one of the oldest surviving mosques in the world. Historians are uncertain whether it was named after the second Caliph Omar ibn al-Khattab, under whom Syria was conquered by the Moslems in 636 AD, or after the...
Mosque of al-Khider
Named after a pre-Islamic saint/prophet, Mosque of al-Khider was built in 1133 AD. It probably replaced an older mosque, which in turn may have replaced a pagan temple or a church. It has a 12-metre square minaret, probably erected in the 13th century. The mosque is located...
Uncovered relatively recently, the first (South) Cathedral of Bosra was the largest Christian structure in the city. It was built in the 4th/5th century AD on the site of the great Nabataean Temple of Bosra, whose very stones were used to construct the cathedral. The vast...
Roman Governor's Palace
Not far from the South Cathedral, just south of the Nabataean Arch, lie the ruins of the Palace of the Roman Governor of Provincia Arabia, sometime referred to as the Palace of Trajan. Much of the structure, with its two floors, has survived, albeit within dwellings of a...
Scattered around the archaeological site of Bosra are the remains of numerous other ancient structures. They are neither identified by a sign at the site, nor in any guidebook, probably because not enough research has been conducted to piece together their history. In some...
The modern city of Bosra spreads around the historic centre in every direction. It is a rather sleepy town composed of low lying buildings and many modern detached houses, all surrounded by agricultural fields. Near the Roman Theatre is the beautiful modern mosque, which...
Cathedral of SS Sergius, Bacchus & Leontius
Completed in 512 AD by the Archbishop Julianus, the Cathedral of Bosra was dedicated to Saints Sergius, Bacchus and Leontius. It lies mostly in ruins nowadays, but its outline is discernible: a circle within a square separated by Corinthian columns and L-shaped pillars, with...
Located just east of al-Omari Mosque, Hammam Manjak was built in 1372 AD mainly to enhance Bosra's role as a stopping point for pilgrims on their way from Damascus to Mecca for the Haj. It is named after Manjak Al Yussufi, the Mamluke governor of Damascus who commissioned...
South Roman Baths - Colonnaded Courtyards
Flanking the South Roman Baths of Bosra are two open courtyards said to belong to the Baths complex. The courtyards are identical in size and were surrounded by a colonnaded portico with Ionic columns similar to those seen along the Decumanus Maximus of the city. Seen in the...
Bosra Cham Palace
2 Reviews and 5 Opinions Bosra only has one hotel option, the Bosra Cham Palace Hotel. It is part of the state-owned 'luxury'...
Getting to Bosra
Bosra lies in a fairly remote area in southern Syria, but it can be reached by road easily from Damascus or Amman. Bus routes reach Bosra from Damascus, but if you could arrange for your own transportation, then combining nearby towns on the same visit would be much easier....
Damascus to Busra Bus
There's a bus that leaves daily for Busra from Damascus. This is a local bus that your hotel can provide details for. It will make several stops along the way, and it's not particularly fast. Nor is it too slow to worry about. One will pass vistas of Mt. Hermon along the...
Living among the ruins
Bosra's position on the Damascus-Mecca pilgrimage route had ensured its continued prosperity for centuries after the Arab conquest. However, Mongol threat and subsequent devastation of Syria by Tamerlane in 1401 forced the pilgrimage route to be diverted west, away from Bosra, where the defences were better. Thus, the city began a long period of decline during which the entire region and its ancient settlements were abandoned and mostly depopulated. It was not until the middle of the 19th century, when the Druze community escaping conflict in Mount Lebanon resettled in the Hauran region. They found in Bosra well-preserved ancient structures ready to be inhabited or dismantled for use as building materials. Unfortunately, this period resulted in the greatest destruction to the ancient monuments of Bosra, but it allowed the refugees to recreate a traditional lifestyle in total harmony with the ruins. Many of these simple 19th century dwellings remain inhabited and unaltered to the present day and offer a rather striking insight into a harmonious coexistence with the Roman city. In recent decades, the government has been slowly relocating the inhabitants to the modern part of Bosra to allow excavation and reconstruction of the ruins. While it will take a long time, eventually, all of these houses will be dismantled and more of Bosra will be revealed and reconstructed turning it into an archaeological park. Until then, locals will continue to bring life to the ruins and to present a fascinating juxtaposition of 19th century lifestyle amid ancient structures.
Updated Mar 23, 2011
- Related to:
- Historical Travel
The Hauran - Auranitis
Bosra lies at the southern end of the fertile region of Hauran, dominated to the west by the gentle sloping 1800-metre Jebel al-Arab peak. The area's volcanic soil and good winter rains have turned it into an agricultural region since ancient times. In fact, the Hauran, Graeco-Roman Auranitis, was one of the breadbaskets of the Roman Empire, but unfortunately, the depopulation of the region after Mongol invasions led to a severe decline in agricultural productivity, hence the soil too. This was coupled with a drop in water tables, accelerated in modern times by the mismanagement of water resources. Still, throughout this countryside, farms stretch as far as the eye can see, which makes it a pleasant place to drive around. In addition, the region is dotted with numerous ancient towns with well-preserved Roman ruins, such as Shahba and Qanawat.The attached photos show farms in the immediate vicinity of Bosra.
Updated Mar 25, 2011
References & Recommended Reading
Favorite thing: Below are references and recommended reading:
Syria - A Historical and Cultural Guide, by Warwick Ball
Monuments of Syria - An Historical Guide, by Ross Burns
Syria - A Selection of Reports, by Carol Miller
Rome in the East, The Transformation of an Empire, by Warwick Ball
Syrie - Guides Bleus, Hachette
Written Mar 21, 2011
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