Busra ash Sham Travel Guide

  • Busra ash Sham
    by lotharscheer
  • Busra ash Sham
    by lotharscheer
  • Bosra theater
    Bosra theater
    by Tuna_ank

Busra ash Sham Highlights

  • Pro
    atufft profile photo

    atufft says…

     Starting with the Romans, multiple epochs are on display here 

  • Con
    tiaomu profile photo

    tiaomu says…

     The last bus to Damascus is available at 18 o'clock. 

  • In a nutshell
    Lebanese profile photo

    Lebanese says…

     Enjoyed It! 

Busra ash Sham Things to Do

  • 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 built on the spot where the Prophet Mohammed camped in a tent on his visit...

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  • The Kalybé

    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 the two columns and a fragment of the entablature above have survived, but...

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  • 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 through his daughter, Fatima, hence their name. This mosque is one of the...

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  • 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 annexation of the Nabataean Kingdom by the Romans. A location immediately...

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  • 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 consisted of five halls, a large octagonal apodyterium (changing room) led...

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  • 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 mighty walls which wrapped perfectly around the semi-circular theatre, thus...

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  • al-Omari Mosque

    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 Omayyad Caliph Omar II who ruled from 717-720 AD. What is clear, however, is...

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  • 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 north of the Cryptoporticus, west of al-Omari Mosque.

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  • South Cathedral

    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 pagan temple, probably dedicated to the primary Nabataean deity, Dùshara, is...

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  • 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 more recent period. It is thought to have been built in the early 2nd century...

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  • Other Ruins

    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 cases these ruins may have been churches or temples, but in others they were...

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  • Modern Bosra

    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 shown in the main photo and is probably the grand mosque of the city. Due to...

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  • Cathedral of SS Sergius, Bacchus &...

    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 exedrae in the outer corners of the square. The Corinthian columns were...

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  • Hammam Manjak

    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 the construction. The Hammam is a beautiful example of Mamluke-period Arab...

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  • South Roman Baths - Colonnaded...

    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 attached photos are the columns of the eastern portico, which are almost...

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  • Roman Theatre - Seating

    Preserved nearly in its original state, the impressive step seating of the Roman Theatre of Bosra wraps around the orchestra in a perfect semi-circle. Its 37 rows had the capacity for as many as 6000 seated spectators, plus several thousand more standing in the upper gallery under a portico of Doric columns. Many of these columns with the...

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  • Roman Theatre - scaenae frons

    As was typical in 2nd century Roman theatre design, a wall decorated with colonnades, niches, and windows, stood behind the stage of the Theatre of Bosra. This façade, known in Latin as scaenae frons, not only served as a beautiful backdrop to performances, but also enhanced the acoustics of the theatre. Performers often appeared in the windows...

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  • Monumental Arch of the Antonines (Bab...

    This Roman Monumental Arch was built in the late 2nd century AD, nearly a century after the Roman Governor of Syria, Cornelius Palma, annexed the Nabataean Kingdom, whose capital was Bosra. This was the period of the Antonine dynasty of emperors in Rome, and according to an inscription, the arch itself was erected in honour of the III Cyrenaica...

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  • Decumanus Maximus

    As was typical in ancient cities of the Levant, a monumental colonnaded street cut through the city of Bosra. It was a Decumanus Maximus, i.e., with an east-west orientation, and it stretched 900 metres from the Western Gate, Bab el-Hawa, all the way to the Nabataean Arch at its eastern end. On either side of the 8-metre wide street was a raised,...

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  • Bab el-Hawa (Western Gate)

    Named Bab el-Hawa (Gate of the Wind) in Arabic, the Western Gate is situated at the western end of the Decumanus Maximus, Bosra's main thoroughfare. It was thus the ancient city's most important gate. The actual structure is an early 2nd century work, constructed by the Romans using black basalt stones. It is considered rather plain in design...

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  • Episcopal Palace

    Immediately east of the Cathedral of Bosra lie the ruins of a grand late-Roman (Byzantine) palace. It is widely believed to have been the Episcopal Palace, but some archaeologists have argued that such a palace is almost never placed east of a cathedral. Conclusions are still hard to draw because parts of the palace are still inhabited by the...

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Busra ash Sham Hotels

Busra ash Sham Restaurants

  • MM212's Profile Photo
    Fresh Orange & Pomegranate juices, Dec 2010

    by MM212 Written Mar 19, 2011

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    Between the Roman Theatre and the entrance of the archaeological site are several vendors who sell freshly squeezed orange or pomegranate juice. Quite delicious!

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Busra ash Sham Transportation

  • 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. Bosra is only 130km south of the capital.I visited Bosra on a day trip from...

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  • 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 way. The return bus leaves rather late and will probably arrive in Damascus...

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  • From Damascus and Dar'a

    Several highway buses are available from Damascus, Bramkeh, the bus station to the southern areas of this country. The price of the straight way is 50SP. There are several times only for there. If it is not on time, The buses for Dar'a are available. When you use the bus for Dar'a, you have to ride on a service for Busra at the bus station of...

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Busra ash Sham Local Customs

  • MM212's Profile Photo
    Laundry among the ruins, Dec 2010 4 more images

    by MM212 Updated Mar 23, 2011

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    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.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Archeology
    • Architecture

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Busra ash Sham Off The Beaten Path

  • MM212's Profile Photo
    Olive grove, Dec 2010 1 more image

    by MM212 Updated Mar 25, 2011

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    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.

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Busra ash Sham Favorites

  • MM212's Profile Photo

    by MM212 Written Mar 21, 2011

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    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

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