The world’s best preserved Roman city is not in Italy, it turns out, but in Syria. Tadmur (the Arab name) or Palmyra (the Greek, Roman and English name) is an amazing ruin on the edge of the desert…huge, relatively intact, and overlooked by a Crusader castle on a hill. It’s many rulers include Queen Zenobia, whose colorful political ambitions make Cleopatra seem like a shopgirl. Its temple to the Persian god Bel, in the far background, was one of the most complete structures of its kind — until it was blown up by Islamic State terrorists in 2015. The beautiful arched gate on the left, known locally as Herod’s Gate, was dynamited a few weeks later.
I took this photograph (one of my personal favorites) from the top of the beautiful Roman amphitheater. On the right foreground is the Temple of Nabu. On the left is Herod’s Gate and the Collonade, leading to another half of the city behind me containing Diocletian’s camp, several basilicas and housing areas where 200,000 lived at Palmyra’s peak. The woman is a worker at nearby hotel walking home to the town of Tadmur, a kilometer to the left. (Pricing Schedule F) (also available in color)