Temple of Bel
is identified by the Greeks as Zeus and as Jupiter by the Romans,
and is lord and master of the universe, creator of the world and
leader of the gods. He was originally a Babylonian god, and was
often mentioned in a triad with the inferior Yarhibol, god of Sun,
and god of the moon Aglibol.
The temple is set on an artificial mound
that dates back to the 2nd millennium BC and it is almost sure that
this site has always been the site of a shrine. This sanctuary is
walled and has a courtyard in the center of it, and in the center of
the courtyard the cella, which is the original place of worship.
the cella are the altar where sacrifices were made and a sacred
pool. There are two chambers; North and South, both have carved
monolithic ceilings. The Northern one is exceptionally known for the
seven planets surrounded by the 12 signs of the Zodiac carving, and
a procession of camels and veiled women, and the god of Fertility
Makkabel. The walls of the courtyard are 205 meters in length and
are surrounded by Corinthian headed columns on the outside and
porticos with a double row of columns along the inside wall except
on the west side where there is one row.
There are three monumental gateways, of
which the entry is through the west gate. These were modified by the
Arabs in 1132 when the Arabs erected a bastion, and the temple was
converted into a mosque.
The base of a statue mentions the date 45
AD and the temple was originally dedicated during the reign of
Tiberius in 32 AD.
Colonnaded Street and Public Buildings
The colonnaded street, or the
decumanus, which is the main axis of the city runs from northwest to
southeast for 1.2 Km. Starting from the Temple of Bel which is on
the southeast side towards the Arab castle on the northwest side.
Nearly at the beginning of the colonnade is the monumental arch,
which has been very well preserved and is almost always the vestige
with which Palmyra is associated.
on, is the Temple of Nebo, which is much smaller than the Temple of
Bel. Nebo is the Mesopotamian god of Wisdom and oracles, and often
identified as the Greek God Apollo. This temple was built in the 1st
century AD, and some work was later added in the 3rd century.
At a further point down the decumanus where
there are four columns made out of Egyptian red granite on the
right, are the Baths of Diocletian. On the left is the theater which
is worthy of comparison to those at Bosra, and Cyrrhus. It was first
built in the 2nd century AD and work continued into the 3rd century.
Behind the theatre is the Senate which is a small peristyled court
around which are rows of seating for the senators. South of the
senate is the Tariff Court where a stone inscribed with the
Palmyrene tariffs of 137 AD, and the Agora.
Also remaining around the colonnaded area
are the tetrapylon (reconstructed in 1963), and the funerary temple
This area was originally constructed in the 2nd century, and was
built by Sosianus Hierocles, the Governor of Syria under the great
emperor Diocletian. The main vestiges of interest are the tetapylon
of which little remains, and the principia or the Temple of
Temple of Baal Shamin
The remains of the temple dedicated to Baal Shamin, the Semitic
deity which resembles Bel is located to the northeast of the main
Tetrapylon. It was first built in 17 AD but was further built and
reconstructed in the 2nd and 3rd centuries. It has been very well
Valley of the Tombs
Out through the Damascus
gate, which is located south of Diocletians camp, is the Valley of
the Tombs. This is a large area with several tower and temple tombs
and hypogeums. Of the most interesting are the Tower Tombs of
Kithoth, Iamliku, Elahbel, Atenatan, and the Hypogeum of Yarhai.
There are two other necropolises, the first is to the southwest of
Palmyra and includes the Hypogea of the Three Brothers, Atenatan,
Hairan and Dionysus. The other necropolis which is situated
southeast of Palmyra includes the tombs of Artaban, Breiki, and
Fakhredin Al Maany Castle
This intimidating castle which stands on top of a mountain to
the west of Palmyra's vestiges was built in the 16th century. It was
surrounded by a moat, leaving no access to it except by a narrow
Most of the antiquities found in Palmyra are located in this
museum. Collections from the Prehistoric age of Palmyra,
inscriptions, religious and funerary art. The statues of Palmyreans
is a good exhibition of what they used to wear and how they looked.