Queen of Palmyra, Syria

In May 2015, the militant organization known as ISIS attacked and captured the city of Palmyra. They destroyed many tombs and other ancient ruins within Palmyra. The city was regained by the Syrian army in March 2017.
All of the images are prior to the destruction done by ISIS in 2015. Due to the “terrorism, civil unrest, and armed conflict,” Syria is closed to tourists as of this printing. Reconstruction of damage done by ISIS has been underway since 2015.

Watch a 9:34 minute video about Palmyra, Syria (before 2015)

A video discussing—and showing some of—the destruction by ISIS of the Palmyra ancient site from SmartHistory (5:57)

Deep in the Syrian Desert, halfway between the Mediterranean and Baghdad, lies the ruined, but still queenly, city of Palmyra. In ancient times, the great caravans, bringing the riches to the East to the Roman West, all met at this oasis. Here, under the inspired rule of one of history’s greatest women—Queen Zenobia—Palmyra grew so powerful that it became a rival to Rome itself. Leading her armies in person, Zenobia conquered and annexed all the lands from the Hellespont to Persia, and from Armenia to Egypt. She filled her capital with glorious palaces and temples. The Romans finally overcame Zenobia, and wrecked Palmyra, but the fragments that remain today are proud and beautiful as ever. (CC BY-SA 3.0 ©2010 Bernard Gagnon)


With so much homage, wealth, and commerce, Palmyra promised to become the Rome of Asia. Higher and more glorious rose the temples. In and out the city gates the camel caravans, laden with riches, moved in ever-swelling streams. To Zenobia’s court came artists and poets from Europe and the East. Rarely in history have the arts flourished as they did in Palmyra, during the reign of Zenobia. (CC BY 2.0 ©2008 Eric Paradis)


Palmyra’s architects liked to adorn all the city’s public buildings with columns. Around the Central Temple courtyard they raised 370 columns. Here, in this picture, are a few that the Romans did not hurl down. (On the projecting stones, about halfway up the column, were once placed marble statues of Palmyra’s great men.) The city’s Grand Avenue was lived with 1500 columns—two rows on each side. Everywhere one looked, there were forests of these tall, slender marble pillars. Though it was set in the middle of a desolate desert, Palmyra found itself, in the year 250 A.D., famous across the world for its wealth. (CC BY-SA 2.0 ©2006 Dan)


For miles across the desert we find the wreckage of Palmyra—as it was left in the year 275 by the vengeful Romans. After Zenobia’s capture, the Romans left a small garrison to guard the town. This garrison the people of Palmyra slaughtered. Wrathful, the Roman general returned, once more fell upon the city, and this time showed no mercy. The entire population was killed. The palaces, temples, walls, and rows of columns along the avenues were overturned. When the Romans departed a second time, Palmyra, one of the loveliest cities on earth, was a smoking waste. (CC BY-SA 3.0 ©2010 Bernard Gagnon)