At a time when there where no major settlement in my country and my ancestors where busy helping there fellow Germanic tribesmen beat the Roman Legions in the Teuotoburg Forest. Down in the Syrian desert there where a thriving oasis town of Palmyra it generated a lot of trade being on the trade route between east and west. It was conquered by the Romans and made their eastern most outpost of the Province of Syria.
The town is still inhabited till this day and it is still a nice green resting place in the middle of the desert thanks to the water coming up from under the ground providing water for the many Dade palms all over the place.
After having a first quick look at the ruins the day before I really looked forward to get a closer look of the remains of the old city of Palmyra in daylight.
For some strange reason I woke up very early in the morning I usually never wake up in the morning but today at 5.20 I was bright awake. I got dress quickly and grabbed my camera to see the city in the early morning light.
I walked down the street which is quite during the daytime and completely dead at 5.30 in the morning. I got to the entrance to the column street there was no signs of any humans anywhere. I stood there the light and the colours of columns where amazing – with the sun still rising it produced an amazing spectacle of colours in different shapes of red. I started walking down the column street only stopping every 2-3 meters to take yet another photo of the sight. There were no human sounds the only thing I could hear were the birds singing and the wind blowing in my ears.
Then walking down a little further there I met on Bedouin riding quietly on his camel getting ready to take his spot at the begging of the column street to try to convince tourist to ride his camels.
He said hallo but apparently it was too early in the morning for him to try to pick up business from me by offering a camel ride. I walked further down the street and met yet another Bedouin riding another camel getting down to the end of the column street he also said hallo not bothering me by offering camel rides.
I walked further down the street and suddenly the mystery from the day before of why the sand in Palmyra apparently always blew 2 meters above the ground were solved. They were excavating the city – it had actually previously been covered in dirt at a height of 2 meters. Hence the sand in Palmyra actually blew along the surface – but the surface used to be higher than it is now.
On a hill in the distance there is a small castle it was a Arabic castle build to protect the trade route in the area.
After this I walked away from the main street and on to the rest of the city walking towards some old temples. Just an extra little look around before I went for breakfast. After breakfast I had a guided tour of the place – not gone be the same but I still wanted to be there for that one.
A quick breakfast and then back to the old city no reason to waste any time around here the sun was raising quickly and soon the temperature would start to climb.
The guide came along at the start of the column street and one lone salesman trying to sell all kind of useless stuff. We started to walk down the column street – it seemed familiar but not quite as nice now with the sun higher on the sky.
The guide were actually quite good telling all sorts of things about the history of the area naturally I did not take notes and have forgotten about most of the stuff he talk about.
One thing new on this tour were we got to go into the amphitheatre this is one of only two places you can not just walk in from the street. We got in to the theatre and saw it – it is very well preserved.
After leaving the theatre we were met by the salesman again he showed up at every stop we made and drown on his motorbike between our stops. He seemed to believe nobody could recognise him from the last stop – which obviously were not the case. He never sold anything but that did not seem to bother him he still tried to convince especially the girls to buy stuff from him.
After walking along in the city we walked across the road to the giant Temple of Bel. It was originally build by the local tribes but later converted into a living area with a church and a fortress position in case of war.
Even though it is bit torn by the passing of time you can still imagine the grandeur of the place two thousand years ago.
After the tour it would be time to leave Palmyra a place I only heard a bit about but turned out to be one of the most impressive ancient sights I have ever been to. Maybe it was because of the early morning walk along the ruins it is unusual to have such a place all to yourself.
This blog entry is originally written after a trip through Syria a decade ago. I reread it recently and remember the trip with joy. I decide to repost the blog entries with the hope peace will return to Syria and it will once again become the wonderful country it was during my visit.