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Palmyra, Tadmur‎, Syria

Palmyra, Tadmur‎, Syria

I’m right back from a fantastic week in Syria, and although this is a space dedicated to Istanbul, I’d like to share with you just some ideas and pics about my trip, and hope you’ll enjoy them! My trip started from Damascus, one of the most important cities of the Middle East. I had the chance to visit the National Archaeologycal Museum, with lots of interesting finds from Palmyra, Ebla and Mari, and the Dura Europos synagogue, the Via Recta with its fascinating load of history, and the coloured suk Al-Hamidiyya. But the places I loved most were the Umayyad Mosque, one of the largest and oldest mosques in the world, built on a Christian basilica, and the Azem Palace, an excellent example of Damascene traditional houses.

A lantern @ Azem Palace in Damascus

A lantern @ Azem Palace in Damascus

The Umayyad Mosque in Damascus

The Umayyad Mosque in Damascus

Prayer in the Umayyad Mosque

Prayer in the Umayyad Mosque

After a visit to Bosra, a major archaeological site which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and hosts an integrally preserved II° century Roman theater, constructed probably under Trajan, we headed to Palmyra. Once you arrive at this gorgeous site you can’t help gaping… it’s speachless, especially if you are so lucky to reach the site at dusk, when everything turns red and the atmosphere brings you back at the ancient times when Palmyra was buildt… It has long been a vital caravan city along the Silk Road, and its colonnades, temples and burial towers in the striking setting of the desert have a great fascination. Don’t forget to pay a visit to the Qala’at ibn Maan castle, built on top of a mountain overlooking the oasis: you’ll have a great sight of Palmyra from the top!

Young boy in the middle of Antiquity in Palmyra (Arabic: تدمر Tadmur‎), Syria

Young boy in the middle of Antiquity in Palmyra (Arabic: تدمر Tadmur‎), Syria

The following stop was the Krak des Chevaliers, a Crusaders fortress 40 km west of the city of Homs, close to the border of Lebanon. Here I had a great surprise: I met a primary school mate… “The world is not enough” as James Bond would say 🙂 Then we headed toward Hama, a city on the banks of the Orontes River renowned for its 17 norias used for watering the gardens, which—it is claimed—date back to 1100 BC. Hope you’ll appreciate the poem by Yunus Emre that a fellow traveller recalled [Thanks, Ali! ;)]:

Noria of lovesickness

The Krak des Chevaliers, Homs

The Krak des Chevaliers, Homs

Noria, Poor, why whine?
I suffer pains and bitternesses.
I fell in love with Love
And for that I’m moaning.

My name is Noria of lovesickness,
my waters run and run,
I fell in love:
I suffer and I’m moaning.

I am a tree in the forest
I am not sweet or bitter,
I am a servant of love,
I suffer and I’m moaning.

View of Hama, Syria

View of Hama, Syria

They sought me on the peaks,
they drowned me in the depths,
Craft forged me,
Assembled mi limbs.
He granted me this sigh
I suffer and I’m moaning.

I draw the waters from the deep,
I climb up and verse them.
Look, my brothers, my burden.
I suffer and I’m moaning.

Yunus Emre

To be continued…

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