Set amid the desert savannah of Syriaare the proud remains of the unique and mysterious metropolis of Palmyra. The legendary ancient city was built in this vicinity due to the existence of an oasis, Tadmur, and today, around 30,000 people live in the surrounding area.
The shortest and fastest route from the Mediterranean to Mesopotamia and Persia travels directly past the Tadmur Oasis, thus it was only a question of time until an important trading post was founded there and later a flourishing cultural and economic centre developed.
Close to the former Agora, the central square in which the city’s inhabitants held their weekly market since the 1st century A.D., is one of Palmyra’s architectural landmarks, the Tetrapylon. This structure consists of four square pedestals and was rebuilt in 1963. Only one of the 16 columns is original and they once held numerous statues.
In 106 A.D., under Emperor Trajan, Palmyra became a province of Rome. The city was obliged to provide military aid which was something that was to have far-reaching consequences. Due to its military responsibilities, the city lost its political neutrality but the Romans honored the city’s loyalty with many fine buildings and various improvements to the centre of the city.
One of the most beautiful and most visited tomb towers in The Valley of Graves is the four story high Tower of Elhabel that dates back to 103 A.D. It is a combination of a tomb tower and Hypoaeum. It is one of the few well-preserved monuments in the West Necropolis.
Since its discovery in the 17th century, the historic monuments of Palmyra shine out in renewed glory as an ancient reminder of a fascinating and mysterious epoch of desert history.