Middle of nowhere

Trip Start Nov 22, 2010
Trip End Jan 11, 2011

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Flag of Syria  ,
Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Palmyra is an oasis far removed from pretty much everywhere else in Syria. It's located in the Syrian desert, barely 100 miles from the Iraqi border.

Our first stop is the decumanus, or ancient column-lined road. The main arch dates to the early 3rd century, when the city was under Roman rule. In the afternoon, we visit the Fakhr-al-Din al-Maani Castle, built by Mamluks in the 13th century.

The second day in Palmyra features a visit to the famous temple of Baal, which has served as a pagan temple, church, and mosque throughout history. It was eventually abandoned and used as a squatter camp up until quite recently. You can see that the metal reinforcements have been stripped out of all the columns by scavengers.

Our final sight in Palmyra is the so-called "Valley of the Tombs," which feature all different types of tombs. There are tower tombs extending four stories into the sky, and containing remains of entire families, as well as the more traditional underground tombs. Our guide Bashar manages to arrange a tour of a tomb normally closed to the public, which had only been discovered in the 1950's during the laying of an oil pipeline.
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