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.
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.