Palmyra Things to Do

  • Funerary Temple at Palmyra
    Funerary Temple at Palmyra
    by atufft
  • Funerary Temple at Palmyra
    Funerary Temple at Palmyra
    by atufft
  • Wall of the Funerary Temple
    Wall of the Funerary Temple
    by atufft

Most Recent Things to Do in Palmyra

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    Palmyra Archaeological Museum

    by MM212 Updated Aug 25, 2015

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    Modest in size, the Palmyra Archaeological Museum can be toured in a relatively short period. The museum exhibits a large number of artefacts, mosaics and sculptures found in the ancient city of Palmyra. Most notable is a statue of Athena, the Greek goddess equated with the Semitic goddess Allat. The museum also has a miniature reconstruction of the Temple of Bel (see attached photo) which is well worth seeing for a better understanding of the original structure. Note that photography is forbidden inside the museum, but I cheated! Also, tickets and tours to the Valley of the Tombs are acquired within the museum.

    IMPORTANT UPDATE: The lion statue in the main attached photo was destroyed, possibly along with other museum artefacts, in June 2015 by the criminal group known as Daesh/ISIS/ISIL. Many museum artefacts (at least the lighter ones) were supposedly transported by the Syrian government for safekeeping in Damascus prior to the abandonment of Palmyra by the Syrian armed forces. Let's hope...

    Now-destroyed statue outside the museum, Dec 2006 Minaiture Temple of Bel, Dec 2006 The goddess Athena, Dec 2006
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    Temple of Baal-Shamin

    by MM212 Updated Aug 25, 2015

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    Although built in stages over a whole century, the Temple of Baal-Shamin was not inaugurated until 130 AD by Emperor Hadrian. By then, it was made up of two courtyards and a cella (inner sanctuary). Only the cella has survived largely intact from the entire temple. In the temple's original form, a colonnaded portico surrounded the spacious courtyards which contained the cella, whose survival is owed to its conversion into a church following the Christianisation of the region. The small bases on the columns of its façade once held statues of Palmyrene notables, a custom that was unique to Syria in the Roman Empire and can be found in other Roman cities, such as Apamea. The Temple of Baal-Shamin is located on the decumanus maximus which met the Grand Colonnade at the Tetrapylon.

    IMPORTANT UPDATE: Photographic evidence has now emerged showing that the Temple of Baal-Shamin was blown up and completely destroyed in Aug 2015 by the criminal group known as Daesh/ISIS/ISIL.

    Cella of Temple Baal-Shamin, Dec 2006 Temple of Baal-Shamin, Dec 2006
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    The theatre of Palmyra

    by sinou Updated Oct 18, 2013

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    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 theatre Back light

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    Temple of Bel

    by MM212 Updated Jul 15, 2013

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    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.

    The columns towering over tourists, Dec 2006 The colonnades of the portico, Dec 2006 The Cella seen from within the Temple's courtyard! The courtyard and the temenos, Dec 2006 The Temple of Bel from the outside, Dec 2006
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    Grand Colonnade

    by MM212 Updated Aug 25, 2012

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    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's impressive colonnade, Dec 2006 Brackets once supported statues, Dec 2006 The colonnade, Dec 2006 Very photogenic! Dec 2006 The colonnade with arch in background, Dec 2006
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    Palmyra kingdom booming :

    by sinou Written May 29, 2012

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    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.

    Palmyra desert plants the golden desert dawn

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    Main Street Palmyra, Part I

    by atufft Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    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.

    Main Street Colonnade Main Baths at Palmyra Nabu Temple Ruins Diocletian's Bath View of Entrance Arch from Colonnade
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    The view on top of the fortresses.

    by June.b Written Nov 27, 2010

    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.

    view on top of the citadel inside the castle view on top of the citadel view on top of the citadel my much awaited sunset..along the road.
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    The Arabic Citadel (on the fortress)

    by June.b Updated Nov 27, 2010

    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.

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    Going up the Palmyra Castle

    by June.b Updated Nov 27, 2010

    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.

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    The Arabic Citadel

    by June.b Written Nov 27, 2010

    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.

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    Palmyra Gateway and grand collonade

    by June.b Updated Nov 25, 2010

    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 monumental gate colonnanded street
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    Temple of Bel

    by June.b Updated Nov 25, 2010

    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.

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    Tomb of Three Brothers

    by June.b Updated Nov 25, 2010

    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 gate of the underground tomb huge keys to the tomb's gate inside the tomb inside the tomb the entrance stairs
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    The Tomb of Elahbel

    by June.b Written Nov 25, 2010

    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.

    inside the tomb view on top of the tower
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