140 Km south of Damascus
in the Horan plain, is the ancient city of Bosra. This city of Bosra,
was first mentioned in the Hieroglyphics of Thutmos III and
Akhnatoun in the 14th century BC, and 1000 years later was the
capital of the Nabatean kingdom under the name of Bousra. Later in
the Hellenistic era it bore the name of Boustra.
grew the most under the Romans, who paid great attention to it and
was named Niatrojana Bostra as the capital of the state of Djezire
under the king Trojan. It was later attacked by Zenobia in 268 AD,
however she only occupied it for a while and did not leave her mark.
In the Byzantine period Bosra became the seat of an archbishop who
was in charge of 33 bishops in the area.
In 632 AD, Bosra was the first Byzantine city to fall to the Arab
Muslims, and it flourished greatly as a point on both the trade
route and the pilgrimage route between Damascus
and Mecca. The crusaders failed to take it over but it was their
threat that pushed the Ayyubids into converting the theater into a
fortress. Bosra survived the Mongol invasion, and later under the
Mamelukes the main pilgrimage routes moved westwards and this left
Bosra quite abandoned, until the Druze moved here from Lebanon in
the 18th and19th centuries.
is most famous for its magnificent Roman amphitheater, which was
later converted into a fortress by the Ayyubids. The original
theater, which has been miraculously preserved, seats 15 000 and its
stage is 45 meters in length and 8 meters in depth. It has been
designed so that all the audience can hear the actors without the
use of any special equipment. The theater has been renovated and
restored, especially a lot of the columns. There is a large area in
front of the stage that might've been used for circuses or
Most of the Ayyubid fortress that envelops the theater remains.
It was built by the Ayyubids except for a few towers built by the
Seljuks. One of the Ayyubid towers on the outer arc has now been
turned into a folkloric museum.
The rest of Bosra is a city resembling the nearby town of
and like most other Roman cities is built in a grid like pattern.
Other vestiges include a monumental arch, the western gate called
Bab Al Hawa, the Roman baths, the Mosque of Omar (one of the oldest
surviving mosques), the Cathedral of Bosra, the Mameluke baths Hamam
Manjak, a Nabatean arch and the basilica known as Church of Bahira.
Bahira was a Nestorian Christian monk who met the Prophet Muhammad
(P) when Muhammad (P) was 12 years of age, and noticed the seal of
prophecy and claimed that he would have a great future.
Also found in the city of Bosra, are the Mosques of Fatima and
Mabrak (Mabrak, is where it is said that Muhammad's camel knelt at
the spot of the Mihrab). There is an enormous cistern which, at 120
meters by 150 meters is one of the largest the Romans ever built.