The Syria of today offers tourists as much a cultural experience as a sightseeing one, where ancient history provides a fascinating backdrop to everyday life on the streets                          



Ain Dara

Situated 40 Km northwest of Aleppo is the Temple of Ain Dara. This temple has remains of many periods including the Seleucid and Arab periods; however most of the vestiges, are the ones dating back to the Neo-Hittite period. This is a very unique temple and no other temple has been found to resemble this one.

Ain Dara was first established and founded as a principality in the northern region of Syria after the invasion of the "Sea Peoples" in the first millennium BC. It then fell into the hands of the Greeks under the Seleucid Empire and later on was occupied by the Umayyads. There is no trace of Roman or Byzantine occupation of the temple.

The temple itself dates back to the 10th and 9th centuries BC, and is believed to be devoted to the goddess Ishtar, who is the Semitic goddess of fertility. The main artifacts found there were two fantastically carved lions out of Basalt stone. This proves that lions used to roam Syrian territory. The other points of interest lie in the four 1-meter long footprints that you follow to the entrance of the temple, this is thought to be proof that the goddess had honored the temple by actually visiting it. Other artifacts found here include a statue of Astarte, carvings and inscriptions. 

The city was occupied till the 16th century and was previously walled to strengthen its defenses, perhaps in the Umayyad period. The temple and the rest of the city are undergoing heavy restoration by a Syro-Japanese company.

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