What are the best Historic Sites in Syria?
Along with many other historical sites in the region, the many of the historic sites of Syria are reported to have been heavily damaged in the current conflicts.
Prior to the conflict, Syria contained a number of fascinating places to explore, such as Krak des Chevaliers, the Citadel of Salah Ed-Din and Palmyra. Other popular sites tended to include Qatna Archaeological Park, Apamea and Dura Europos.
Krak des Chevaliers is a stunning example of Crusader-era military architecture and was the headquarters of the famous Knights Hospitallier during the 12th and 13th centuries.
It is perhaps the best preserved example of a Crusader fortress in existence today, and is an awe-inspiring example of medieval military architecture.
Built to withstand a siege for up to five years, Krak des Chevaliers stands atop a 650-metre high hill which dominated the route from Antioch to Beirut. The main enclosure was surrounded by a man-made moat which was carved out of solid rock in a dramatic example of Crusade-era engineering.
Captured by the Mameluke Sultan Baibars in 1271, Krak des Chevaliers was used as a base for Mameluk expansion towards the end of the 13th Century. Situated close to the border with Lebanon, it provides a unique experience to those wishing to find out more about the Crusades.
Krak des Chevaliers was designated a World Heritage site in 2006.
The Citadel of Salah Ed-Din, also known as Saladin Castle and Saone, is a partly-preserved fortress in Syria which is an interesting example of Crusader-era fortifications. The site is thought to have first been occupied by the Phoenicians and later by Alexander the Great.
The current site was built by the Byzantines and became a Crusader stronghold until its capture by Saladin in 1188. The Citadel of Salah Ed-Din was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2006.
Palmyra was a thriving city of the ancient world whose impressive, UNESCO-listed ruins are located in Syria. Originally known by the Semitic name of Tadmor – which is now the name of the neighbouring modern town – Palmyra was once a commercial hub along a busy trade route.
Most of the extensive ruins of Palmyra today date back to its time under Roman rule, particularly the second and third centuries.
Qatna Archaeological Park in Tell Mishrifeh in Syria houses the ruins of what was the thriving ancient Mesopotamian city of Qatna. Known to have first been occupied in the third millennium BC, Qatna’s location on an important commercial and political crossroad connecting it to both the Mitanni empire and the ancient Egyptians allowed it to flourish.
This period heralded a great deal of construction, including the building of Qatna’s acropolis. However, much of this is still being excavated so is inaccessible to tourists. One significant part of Qatna Archaeological Park which is now open is an area of the Royal Palace.
Apamea is an ancient site in Syria which boasts a remarkable 1800 metres of dramatic Roman colonnades together with a range of other ruins. Said to have been one of the largest Seleucid cities and built in around the 4th century BC in what is now Syria, Apamea flourished and thrived as a commercial hub.
Today, Apamea is an incredible site. Most of the remains are from the Roman period, but there are some fascinating finds from its time under the Seleucids including ruins of its defenses, much of which have been restored.
6. Dura Europos
Dura Europos was a thriving ancient city in Eastern Syria occupied by a series of civilisations, now represented by well preserved ruins. Part of what made the archaeological discoveries at Dura Europos so impressive was not just their good state of preservation, but their intricate and ornate decorations including frescos and wall paintings.
Today, the impressive remains of Dura Europos illustrate its cultural and historical diversity. In addition to Greco-Roman ruins including temples, the site is home to the ruins of one of the world’s oldest known synagogues and what has been described as the earliest known church.
The ruins of ancient Bosra are among the most spectacular historic remains in Syria. Among the sites to see in Bosra is the incredible 2nd century AD Bosra Theatre along with a host of Nabatean, Roman, Byzantine and early Muslim structures.
Today, a small city still remains alongside a huge array of fascinating archaeological sites. Chief among the ruins at Bosra is the 2nd century AD Roman theatre. Built under the Roman emperor Trajan, it would have originally held up to 15,000 people. During the early Islamic period the theatre was converted into a citadel which helped to ensure its survival and explains the excellent state of preservation. The site also contains the ruins of an ancient Roman circus, the outline of which can still be seen.