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                          




Situated 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.

Bosra, 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.

Bosra 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 gladiatorial matches.

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 Shahba, 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.

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