How the ancient city of Palmyra looked before the fighting – in pictures

Islamic State fighters now appear to have taken control of the historic Syrian city of Palmyra – threatening the destruction of this world heritage site’s priceless architecture and art

Photograph: Fernando Arias/Getty Images/Flickr RF
Photograph: Fernando Arias/Getty Images/Flickr RF

Hadrian’s Gate, Palmyra

Known as the ‘Venice of the Sands’, the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra – located at the edge of an oasis of date palms and gardens – was a wealthy caravan centre from the 1st to the 3rd centuries CE, sometimes independent and at other times under the control of Rome

Photograph: Julian Kaesler/Getty Images/Flickr Open
Photograph: Julian Kaesler/Getty Images/Flickr Open

Desert citadel

Palmyra has been designated a site of Outstanding Universal Value by Unesco: ‘Its grand, colonnaded street of 1100 metres’ length forms the monumental axis of the city, which together with secondary colonnaded cross streets links the major public monuments including the Temple of Ba’al, Diocletian’s Camp, the Agora, theatre, other temples and urban quarters’

Photograph: Alamy
Photograph: Alamy

Roman theatre

This unfinished theatre dates back to the 2nd century CE, when Palmyra was once one of the most important cultural centres of the ancient world. In the mid-20th century it was restored and used as a venue for the annual Palmyra festival

Photograph: Getty Images
Photograph: Getty Images

Valley of the Tombs

The Royal Necropolis of Ancient Thebes was located south-west of Palmyra in an area called the Valley of the Tombs. This image shows an underground burial chamber for three wealthy brothers

Photograph: David Forman/Getty Images
Photograph: David Forman/Getty Images

Temple of Ba’al

This great temple of Ba’al was of the most important religious buildings of the 1st century AD. In 1132 the Turkish Burid dynasty turned it into a fortress

Photograph: Nick Laing/Getty Images/AWL Images RM
Photograph: Nick Laing/Getty Images/AWL Images RM

Tetrapylon on the Cardo Maximus

A striking example of this form of Roman monument, each of the four groups of pillars supports 150,000kg of solid cornice

Photograph: Getty Images
Photograph: Getty Images

Ancient burial tower

Tombs were built on high ground on the main road linking Palmyra with Emesa, now known as Homs, and Damascus. This one belonged to the Elhabel family

Photograph: imageBroker/Rex Shutterstock
Photograph: imageBroker/Rex Shutterstock

Hadrian’s Gate

Palmyra became a metropolis with ‘free’ status under the Roman emperor Hadrian (117 to 138 CE), who visited the city in 129 CE

Photograph: Nick Laing/JAI/Corbis
Photograph: Nick Laing/JAI/Corbis

Temple of Ba’al, Palmyra

Photograph: Michele Falzone/JAI/Corbis
Photograph: Michele Falzone/JAI/Corbis

Stone carvings on the Temple of Ba’al

The art and architecture of Palmyra was a spectacular combination of Greco-Roman techniques, local traditions and Persian influences

Photograph: imageBroker/Rex Shutterstock
Photograph: imageBroker/Rex Shutterstock

Ruins of the Perystil grave temple

Photograph: Richard McManus/Getty Images/Flickr Open
Photograph: Richard McManus/Getty Images/Flickr Open

Columns in the inner court of the Temple of Ba’al

Source: The Guardian

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