Right in the middle of the Syrian desert, the ancient town of Palmyra rises like a Fata Morgana.
The UNESCO World Heritage List includes more than a thousand properties with outstanding universal value. They are all part of the world’s cultural and natural heritage.
Country: Syrian Arab Republic
Date of Inscription: 1980
Category: Cultural site
UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre’s short description of site no. 23:
“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.”
I wrote this in my diary in 1986:
“I took a bus to Palmyra, Syria’s most famous sight. The city of Queen Zonabia and others was a hub for trade (and wars) thousands of years ago. The buildings and what we today see, dates back to the first three centuries AD.
On the road we saw very unfertile desert and the oasis Palmyra (today: Tadmor) must have been a sought after breathing hole for the wayfarers of that time. I did not get much time to breathe as I bought a ticket onwards to Homs an hour after arrival. I hastened out to the ruins. Grand: columns, theatre, temples and fortresses stand there almost intact and cover a huge area. A great shame I could not stay longer here.”