Syrian Arab Republic
Province of Homs
N34 33 15.012 E38 16 0.012
Date of Inscription: 1980
Minor boundary modification inscribed year: 2017
Property : 1,640 ha
Buffer zone: 16,800 ha
News/Travelogue: SYRIAN ARAB REPUBLIC, SY – SITE OF PALMYRA
An oasis in the Syrian desert, north-east of Damascus, Palmyra contains the monumental ruins of a great city that was one of the most important cultural centres of the ancient world. From the 1st to the 2nd century, the art and architecture of Palmyra, standing at the crossroads of several civilizations, married Graeco-Roman techniques with local traditions and Persian influences.
First mentioned in the archives of Mari in the 2nd millennium BC, Palmyra was an established caravan oasis when it came under Roman control in the mid-first century AD as part of the Roman province of Syria. It grew steadily in importance as a city on the trade route linking Persia, India and China with the Roman Empire, marking the crossroads of several civilisations in the ancient world. A grand, colonnaded street of 1100 metres’ length forms the monumental axis of the city, which together with secondary colonnaded cross streets links the major public monuments including the Temple of Ba’al, Diocletian’s Camp, the Agora, Theatre, other temples and urban quarters. Architectural ornament including unique examples of funerary sculpture unites the forms of Greco-roman art with indigenous elements and Persian influences in a strongly original style. Outside the city’s walls are remains of a Roman aqueduct and immense necropolises.
Discovery of the ruined city by travellers in the 17th and 18th centuries resulted in its subsequent influence on architectural styles.
Criterion (i): The splendour of the ruins of Palmyra, rising out of the Syrian desert north-east of Damascus is testament to the unique aesthetic achievement of a wealthy caravan oasis intermittently under the rule of Rome from the Ier to the 3rd century AD. The grand colonnade constitutes a characteristic example of a type of structure which represents a major artistic development.
Criterion (ii): Recognition of the splendour of the ruins of Palmyra by travellers in the 17th and 18th centuries contributed greatly to the subsequent revival of classical architectural styles and urban design in the West.
Criterion (iv): The grand monumental colonnaded street, open in the centre with covered side passages, and subsidiary cross streets of similar design together with the major public buildings, form an outstanding illustration of architecture and urban layout at the peak of Rome’s expansion in and engagement with the East. The great temple of Ba’al is considered one of the most important religious buildings of the 1st century AD in the East and of unique design. The carved sculptural treatment of the monumental archway through which the city is approached from the great temple is an outstanding example of Palmyrene art. The large scale funerary monuments outside the city walls in the area known as the Valley of the Tombs display distinctive decoration and construction methods.
Palmyra was the only oasis in Syria and perhaps the only truly tourist town. Palmyra (Roman name) was known as Tadmor to the Syrians. Both meant the same thing – date palm. The name came from the lush oasis adjacent to the city which was home to some million date palms. Palmyra sat on the standard tourist trek around Syria. Intense competition for business amongst local outfits made the experience somewhat overwhelming to the traveller who had come from the North and had enjoyed a relatively ‘quiet’ trip thus far. The major tourist attraction of the area was the stunning ruins [read more].
With a population of 1.6 million, Homs is the third large city in Syria after the capital Damascus and Aleppo. It is centrally positioned in Syria and is home to Al-Baath University among other institutes. There are many restaurants and hotels. The old name for the city of Homs is “Emissa” or “Emizza” but in standard Arabic it is called “Hims” and “Homs” is its informal name. There is no airport in Homs; however, you can reach the city by taxi, private car, or bus from the airports at Damascus, Aleppo, or Lattakia [read more].