Palmyra: The Venice of the Desert Must be Saved From IS Attack
Writer-journalist from Syria, Dr Waeil Awwad, writes about the beauty of the ruins in the city of Palmyra. Read here
A Vision of the Past
As you begin your journey, while strolling in Souk, make sure to walk through the tall pillars. As you saunter, you can hear the street vendors selling their goods, traders conversing, and horses are galloping and neighing. Doesn’t the city seem so alive? The sounds, whether it is musical or conversational, create an atmosphere of the life in the city 5,000 years ago.
You will see an influx of traders, from all over the world converging on the city. Vendors selling silk and peppers from the East, jewellery and tools from the West. Doesn’t this city seem diverse? To your left, you will see the Palmyra Theatre, which has a capacity to sit 10,000 people, built in the Roman style in a half circuit, where all singers, dancers and poets performed . To your right, the Baal temple, which dates back to the 1st century, dedicated to the god of rain, Baal.
As you gaze ahead you see the Senate Council building shaped like a horseshoe, stadiums for various athletic sports, the Agora entry and exit point, built to allow easy entry and exit in and out of Palmyra. Don’t forget to take rest and visit the traditional hammam which is famous for its therapy with sulfur from a natural well, located in the centre of the city. Towards the end of the road you see the arch of victory which reflect the city’s beauty and glory. Palmyra, the heart of the Syrian desert.
Historical Treasures on the Brink
A city known as the Venice of the Desert, located 243 km northeast of the Syrian capital Damascus where more than 200,000 tourists visit it annually. A city so beautiful now falling to the hand of terrorists, whose 5,000-year-history is enriched with treasures.
It may soon be reduced to rubbles. Every stone in Palmyra has a history and a story to tell. It astonishes you as to how our forefathers travelled all this distance to meet here in Palmyra. Each visitor that embarked on the journey to Palmyra, experienced hospitality like no other. Poems were written, love stories blossomed and good memories were experienced by each visitor.
A Free City
Queen Zenobia, who defied the Roman empire, made Palmyra the capital of her kingdom.
Palmyra became the city of defiance and integrity. People of the kingdom loved their queen who chose death instead of being a slave serving the Romans. As your journey comes to an end, you will see that the ruins of the city still intact and you will be surprised to see so many graveyards which house famous gods and the people.
On the statue portrait of three gods, which is now in Paris’ Louvre, the words engraved 5,000 years ago, say:
“Do not despise the God you don`t worship.”
A clear message telling us how the city survived and generation after generation lived in peace and harmony… something we lack these days. Save Palmyra, save humanity.
(The writer, a Syrian national based in Delhi, has covered West Asia and South Asia as a journalist for decades)
Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.