Instagram
Tumblr
LinkedIn

THE SYRIAN SERIES, DAY 7

HAMA – PALMYRA – DAMASCUS

The ruined ruins of Palmyra. After the usual greeting of I Love You by the young waiters (they even came into my room🤣) and a quick jump out of the hotel for a morning walk it was off to the ancient city of Palmyra, something I have been told is a highlight of anyone’s trip to Syria – how many highlights can one country have?

I’D EXPECT LESS DEVASTATION DURING WORLD WAR 2

The day was going to be a long one, heading through Homs which we decided not to stop at but which had plenty to see.

WHERE IS PALMYRA?

Palmyra

HOMS

Homs was one of the worst hit cities in Syria and one the government struggled to hold on to. The battle lasted 3 years, from 2011 to 2014 and gave me bizarre feelings of what the aftermath of World War 2 would have been like.

The rebels were entirely outnumbered and surrounded but they had the benefit of blending in with the locals and surprise attacks on their side. Checkpoints were a common target which The Syrian Army usually responding to with drone attacks.

DAILY INFO….

  • HOTEL – Beit Al Mamlouka 9/10 (incredible costumer service again!)
  • RESTAURANT – Chicken Hut 😬
  • FOOD – Shawarma 7/10
  • ATTRACTIONS –

Homs devastation
Palmyra new town
Palmyra museum
Palmyra old town

SIEGE OF HOMS

The casualties as well inflicted by the rebels completely dwarfed that of the army. Although the number of active units were unknown, the death toll rose to 2,000 with 5,000 being captured.

Anyone would wonder how the rebels considered themselves as having a chance against an army of 10,000 units and 250 tanks. But with cat and mouse in such a built up area and the army needing to be visible compared to the rebels strategy of hide and seek, it was going to be difficult for either.

The ruined ruins of Palmyra

DAILY TRAVEL STATS….

  • Steps – 15,600
  • Miles covered – 291.2m

TACTICAL WARFARE 

However the army foreseen the advantage the rebels had here and instead of engaging in head on conflict opted to put militias on the frontline to first surprise them and then play them at their own game.

THE ENTIRE TEMPLE WAS BLOWN UP BY ISIS

REPOPULATION

The further from Aleppo you go the more populated the towns have gotten as more and more people feel safe to move out of the city. This was actually nice to see and a pleasant change to before…life for is returning slowly.

 RELATED READ: SKYDIVING OVER HAWAII

LONG ROAD TO PALMYRA

Palmyra isn’t yet the normal tourist destination as it was one of the last ISIS strongholds and needs regular patrolling and checkpoints. It even requires special permission, which is checked at every checkpoint.

As a road for Syrians I’d imagine it to be boring but for a tourist looking out onto barren land for 2 hrs 30 it was bizarrely intriguing.

The ruined ruins of Palmyra

  FACTS:
  • Under the Roman emperor Tiberius (r. 14–37 A.D.), Tadmor was incorporated into the province of Syria and assumed the name Palmyra, or “place of palms.”
  • Palmyra is an oasis in the Syrian desert, north-east of Damascus.
  • Once called the “Pearl of the desert,” Palmyra, famous for its well-preserved Greco-Roman ruins, has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1980, renowned for its unique blend of Greek, Roman, Persian, and Islamic cultures.

TANKS AND TECHNICAL

As we got closer to Palmyra the destruction increased again as well as the checkpoints. What did surprise me was the level of presence in terms of Russian tanks and Syrian technical vehicles. These technical vehicles, which actually look more like rebels, are pick up trucks with a mounted machine gun, were flying around these deserted towns with a gunner on the back seemingly ready to let lose. It was like Black Hawk Down.

PALMYRA NEW TOWN

Another devastated town, Palmyra was one of the last strongholds of ISIS and due to its distance to other cities became difficult for people to flee. We visited the museum here and it was particularly nervy to walk through the same building that ISIS once were. The government had managed to save most of the artefacts before the town was besieged.

The ruined ruins of Palmyra

PALMYRA

Driving into the old town you can just see the scale of this place it’s incredible!
It’s taken me until I was in my 30s to appreciate this kind of scene, far too long if you ask me. Palmyra is an old Semitic City dating back to 3000BC. It has changed hands a number of times before becoming part of the Roman Empire in 100AD.

After the Palmyrene Empire was created it was destroyed by The Roman Emperor Aurelian in 273 and later rebuilt by Diocletian. In the fourth century The Palmyrene’s converted to Christianity and then to islam several centuries later after which the languages were changed from Greek & Palmyrene to Arabic.

The ruined ruins of Palmyra

BAAL TEMPLE / TEMPLE OF BEL

Like a lot of Syria Baal Temple’s recent history is tragic. After the fall of Palmyra, twice to ISIS, the cellar (part of the 40,000m2 temple) was almost entirely destroyed due to his Christian heritage. It is devastating and has been said the remaining structure will likely fall too.

Before ISIS

THE GENERAL

Although it is safe the visit, it is required to have an armed guard with you, but for whatever reason we had the army’s general! Getting through checkpoints become super easy as soldiers saluted him once they seen who was in the car. However at one check point when a guard heard I was from Ireland, wanted to know if I supported the Ireland football team- you have to play the game and say yes!! Off to Damascus.

BEIT AL MAMLOUKA

Tonight’s hotel was a huge surprise. Mamlouka is a small boutique hotel which has some incredible customer service. After asking about where to eat, Lauren one of the managers took me into the kitchen to eat my way through everything they had, one of which was ataief asafiri (qatayef asafiri) with thick yogurt/cream and jam. Syrians are big eaters!

 

SUMMED UP….

  • HIGHLIGHT – Palmyra
  • LOWLIGHT – The destruction of the old city by ISIS.
  • MVP – The people at Mamlouka hotel.

FINAL THOUGHTS

It doesn’t get easier seeing the devastation but it’s incredible how the Syrian people continue to hold themselves after what they have gone through.

NEXT UP

A day checking out Damascus!! Click to read.

SAFE TRAVELS, DS x
152/229

This post is part of The Syrian Series, for the entire series click here or for episode 1, click here.

To watch the video of my trip, head to my highlights on my Instagram.

Question Time

  • Have you been to Palmyra?
  • Do you enjoy Roman ruins?

Let me know in the comments below . . .

Send this to someone who might like it
A DAY IN HAMA, SYRIA
A DAY IN DAMASCUS

About the Author

Instagram
Tumblr
LinkedIn

Related Articles:

Got a question, some advice or want to tell me about your experience?

2 Comments. Leave new

  • Lignon Nguyen
    13/10/2022 8:55 am

    My husband and me were in Syria with my best friend Lebanese in medical university ( Paris)
    Before the war, we visit Damascus,Alep, Palmyre…
    She speak and understand Arab language
    So it very easy to us to discover this country

    Reply
    • David Simpson
      David Simpson
      14/10/2022 10:28 am

      Hi! I would have loved to have visited before the war, it would have been a different place back then! Would you revisit?

      Reply

I’d love to hear it . . .

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed

Menu