palmyra pleasant evenings : it is worthy of consideration , whereas the long evenings in the desert are very pleasant.
the sight there invites us for some set and meditation ….some people sat here, they ate, drank, wore, and lived life like us ....truly ?..
The size and grandeur of the Temple of Bel make this one of the greatest temples of the Roman east. This enormous temple is quite befitting of the most important Semitic god, Bel (or Baal), who was equated with the Greek god Zeus. The columned porticoes of the outer structure of the temple surround a large courtyard in which the cella (inner sanctuary) is located. The porticoes have survived in sections, but the cella is nearly intact. The entire temple dates from the 1st century AD, but was built on a spot which had probably been used for worship for several millennia. In the 5th century AD the temple was converted into a church and in the 12th century, the Arabs converted it into a citadel. Despite these modifications over time, the state of preservation of some of the temple's details is astonishing (see photos in the Travelogue "The Temple of Bel").
IMPORTANT UPDATE: The Temple of Bel has suffered some damage during the civil war between the Syrian government and the Free Syrian Army.
Built mostly in the early 2nd century AD, Palmyra's legendary Grand Colonnade measures more than 1km in length. The avenue leads from the Temple of Bel in the east to the Funerary Temple at the western end, and makes two slight turns along the way, at the Monumental Arch and at the Tetrapylon. The two slight turns make this avenue unlike the cardo maximus in a traditional Graeco-Roman city plan, and have resulted from the city's Semitic origins. Many of the columns support brackets on which statues were placed, a Semitic tradition seen only in Roman Greater Syria. Another non-Roman feature is the lack of paving in the centre of the avenue due to its use as the main thoroughfare for camel-pulled caravans traversing the Syrian desert, though the porticoes on either side of the avenue were paved for pedestrians. The best preserved section of the avenue, seen in the attached photographs, lies between the Monumental Arch and the Tetrapylon. On these columns are the hanging pedestals on which statues of notable Palmyrene figures were once placed.
Palmyra kingdom boomed and reached to the top in the second /third century A.D. when the caravans crossing from the east to the Mediterranean sea and Europe and vice versa.
Palmyra is a desert city, .. very high temperature in summer , and low humidity. That made it's astonishing nights waft , as well as the distinctive sun rising and sun set . in this times it's better to be on a rock , delving of ancient civilizations great, that's magnificent and unforgotten event.
The main drag of ancient Palmyra was lined with a number of important public buildings and stretched for more than a half mile or so to end at the Funerary Temple. The street is not straight, as Roman roads are but takes a slight turn midway. From the Main Entrance Arch to the crossroads at the Tetrapylon, the line of columns is quite complete, and very impressive. Concrete restoration of columns at the Tetrapylon is disappointing, but not surprising. However, reconstruction of the city could be a project for many decades, given the scattered ruins after the Tetrapylon. In any case, among the first ruins reached walking from the arch are the Nabo Temple, which is devoted to a Babylonian God. Nabù, son of god Bel-Marduk and scribe of the tablets of destiny, was a god of wisdom and oracles. The small temple of Nabù was built in the 1st century A.D., but modifications were added as late as the 3rd century. Across the main street are a number of thermal baths, the most important of which was named after Queen Zenobia. After Zenobia's military defeat and exhibition in gold chains in Rome in 274 AD, these baths were renamed after Roman Emperor Diocletian.
I was disappointed because I wanted to spend more time on top of the citadel, and wait for the sunset, am not romantic or sumthin', just want to enjoy a beautiful scene, and the sun is still glaring and my group is already in the van!
Anyhoo, we left the castle, went down, drop of the others in their hotel in Palmyra, and me, one other guy and the driver started driving back to Hama.
I always give in to people's wishes, much to my silent rebellion. I just contented myself watching the sun goes down along our way to Hama inside the van while the driver keeps on talking while driving...ernie and bert it seemed to me...sweet? pffft! ... the driver was kind anyways, kept me awake whenever my eyes starts to shut down.
And so we've reached the top, this is the much awaited climax of the tour - the rest of the group been asking for this - it has to be the last stop after all it's on the top.
I was a bit sad because, I was expecting to finish the tour watching the sunset on top of the citadel, some people say it's amazing, well, most sunsetsare amazing on top of a castle or a mountain, but seemed like my group was a little unenthused, seemed like they were all in a hurry, maybe because they were tired? or wanted to settle to their hotel in Palmyra?
We were early on top because it turned out that we were the only people - 6 of us - in the castle, after all it's just between 2 - 3pm I guess, and the rest of the tour packs are still making their rounds around Palmyra down below. So I was seeing the future -- means, we're not going to wait for the sunset -- and yes, we didn't! We stayed on top of the castle or fortress part of the castle and I sat on one of the enclave watching the blue skies. I went down to get some water, and I saw everyone coming down too, and started boarding our van. Which means how can I go back inside the castle when the group are already in the van? I want to see the sunset.
I don't exactly know the official name of this castle, I'm even confused if it's a citadel or a castle? the Arabic Castle - it says on the wall just before the ticket window.
it's on top of the hill, so you'd better have a car or your tour service to get there, unless you realy want to take a steep hike. Not an easy feat. Palmyra is a huge ancient city and the tour of the area includes the castle on top of the hill I forgot how many turns our van made, not much but I can remember it's high.
The final destination of our Palmyra tour is the highly anticipated climb to the citadel on top of the hill. Not really climb, we are in the van of course, but upon entry to the castle we have to navigate around and climb stairs going on the top of the citadel to witnesxs the great view of the surrounding including the whole ancient city of Palmyra.
The fourth stop is my much awaited part of the tour - the gateway entrance of the ancient city leading to the kilometers long collonade. The arches are are intricately designed and seemed like inviting you to come in. It is the grand entrance to the rest of the ancient city of Palmyra.
I walk along the long colonnaded street, an ancient decumanus, until the end where the view of the citadel above the hill can be seen.
The theater is closed although it can be viewed from the steel bars, I've seen some audio equipment, there might be some sort of a concert later in the evening.
The third stop is one of the best preserved ancient structure in Palmyra is the temple of Bel. Dedicated to the Semitic god Bel, worshipped in Palmyra as Malakbel. The temple is a religiouscenter of Palmyra. The main god of the Aramaeans at Palmyra was Bol later became known as Bel by assimilation to the Babylonian god Bel-Marduk. Both gods presided over the movements of the stars.
Second stop in Palmyra is an underground tomb. No names, the side of the entrance which is under a long stairs says "The Tomb of Three Brothers" which I asked the guy who opened the gate with huge key, and he said just 3 brothers. Photography is not allowed inside.
The tower tomb of Elahbel is an ancient pre-roman tomb and is our first stop in Palmyra.
There are lots of native carpet sellers just before you reach the tomb. We already have purchased the ticket to enter this tower tomb from the main museum building. I forgot, it's something like SYP150.
Built around 50 AD, Palmyra's Forum or Agora is located next to the Tetrapylon, at the centre of the colonnaded avenue. The Agora was a spacious courtyard surrounded by columned porticoes on four sides. Some of these columns are still half standing, while many have been reduced to the base. Part of the outer walls with the framed windows have also survived.
Completed in 32 AD, the cella of the Temple of Bel predates the surrounding porticoes of the temple. Unlike the rest of the temple, the cella is more Hellinistic in style, but at the same time has the form of Semitic temples. This inner sanctuary is the most sacred part of the temple, in front of which sacrifices and other religious ceremonies were performed. Bel (or Baal) is perhaps the most important Semitic god who was equated with Zeus, but was often in the company of two other Semitic gods, Yarhibol (solar god) and Aglibol (lunar god). In the interior of the cella, each end of the structure has a shrine (adyton) to these gods. The cella's interior and exterior are very richly decorated and quite astonishingly well-preserved. See the travelogue "Cella Details" for additional photos.