Palmyra, Syria  (aka Tadmor)

Claiming descent from Cleopatra, Zenobia imbues Palmyra with a wild romance. She was, it seems, a woman of exceptional ability and ambition. Wife of Odenathus, king of Palmyra, she may have been involved in his murder. Fluent in Greek, Latin, Aramaic and Egyptian, she effectively turned Palmyra into an independent empire, wrestling control of Egypt from Rome and marching deep into Asia Minor - although in doing so, she also assured her city's eventual destruction.

From her actions, she was obviously headstrong and willful ... Edward Gibbon said of her in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire:

She equaled in beauty her ancestor Cleopatra and far surpassed her in chastity and valor. Zenobia was esteemed the most lovely as well as the most heroic of her sex. She was of dark complexion. Her teeth were of pearly whiteness and her large black eyes sparkled with an uncommon fire, tempered by the most attractive sweetness. Her voice was strong and harmonious. Her manly understanding was strengthened and adorned by study. 

Zenobia of Palmyra

Apparently, she was also a ruler with a sense of humor. A merchant was to be punished for overcharging and was summoned to the theatre to appear in front of the queen and the public audience. The merchant stood alone in the arena and shook with fear, thinking that a wild beast was to be set upon him. When the beast was released the crowd roared with laughter - the merchant turned around to be confronted by a chicken. 

Zenobia was carted off to Rome in 272 CE as Aurelian's trophy and paraded in the streets, bound in gold chains. She spent the rest of her days in Rome, some say in a villa provided by the emperor, others claim she chose to starve to death rather than remain captive. [Encyclopędia Britannica says she married a Roman senator.] Her city was destroyed by the Romans in 273 CE and never regained its fortunes.   [- Adapted from Lonely Planet Syria.]

Snowfall in the desert

A rare snowfall in the eastern Syrian desert

Desert check post

Desert checkpost enroute to Palmyra

Bedouin woman

Bedouin woman with facial tattoo

Village path

Village street around Palmyra

Palmyra - Monumental arch

This is two arches joined like a hinge to pivot the main street through a 30 degree turn.

Great colonnade

The street was once lined with statues of famous Palmyrenes.

Great colonnade

Main street of Palmyra

Funerary towers

These square cross-section towers contained coffins in niches like pigeonholes on five levels.

Ruins in the desert

Emperor Hadrian visited Palmyra in 130 CE and declared it a 'free city' allowing it to levy its own taxes.


In 212 CE, Palmyra became a Roman colony and its citizens acquired equal rights with the citizens of Rome.


Close to the senate house and agora

Temple of Bel

Bel was the most important of the gods in the Palmyrene pantheon but little in known of their deities.

Qala'at ibn Maan castle

A 17th century Arab castle


A couple of bedouin families live at the edge of the ruins.

Temple of Bel-Shamin

Dedicated to the Phoenician god of storms and fertilizing rains.


Temple of Bel-Shamin in the background

Bedouin man

A local Bedouin man around Palmyra

Looking for a date? 

Palmyra is also called Tadmor, the city of dates

Local transportation

Zero to 60? Nah!

All wrapped up 

Yours truly on a cold and windy afternoon


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