If you’re interested in Roman and ancient history you should definitely visit the ancient city of Bosra – a must-see on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. This small Syrian town is only 50 km from the Jordanian border and about 100 km south of Damascus.
First mentioned in the texts of the Pharaohs Thutmose III and Akhnaton in the 14th Century BC, Bosra became the northern capital of the Nabataean kingdom. In 106 AD, Bosra was incorporated into the Roman empire and became the capital of the Roman province of Arabia.
Bosra is made almost entirely from black basalt. Incredibly, a city that once counted more than 60 000 people its inhabitants is now only a village settled among the ruins. Amongst other things, Bosra is famous for its magnificent Roman theatre. It is the largest, most complete and best-preserved theatre of all the Roman theatres in the Middle East, and was one of the largest theatres ever constructed in the Roman world. It’s so well preserved that you can even go backstage and see the dressing rooms!
There are many more Roman sites to see, including the baths, monumental gates, colonnaded streets, and some fine Corinthian columns. Al-Omari Mosque is one of the oldest in Islamic history, and the Madrasah Mabrak al-Naqua is one of the oldest and most celebrated in the world of Islam. According to legend, in the year 582 a twelve year-old boy named Muhammad visited Bosra with his uncle Aba Talib. Many years later, this boy became known as the Prophet Muhammad. Bosra is also host to the Cathedral of Bosra – a considerably important building in the annals of early Christian architecture.
Bosra is a fascinating place to visit and explore, and definitely worth a visit when you’re in Syria. Have you explored any ancient sites around the world that have made an impression on you? Share your experiences with us!