Palmyra… the most tourist city of the Syrian desert. Fairly it allocates the title, while it entertains crowd of antiquities very well maintained. So well that is given the occasion in each visitor to realize the architecture of the ancient city.
Despite the advice of the hotel keeper, we select the morning hours for our visits in the sights, because of the tiredness we began our roaming in them at 11am. We began from the Archaeological Museum (price of ticket: 400S£/per person). It allocated appreciable exhibits that included collections of exterior of sarcophagus, vessels, jewels, mosaics, statues. It is intense the Greek-Roman influence. Also it entertained exhibits of the neolithic period, fact that confirmed the long-lasting occupation of the region. Impressive - but without giving it the value that it suited - were the 3 mummies, that were found in the 1st floor.
With the same ticket we could visit the Funereal Monuments (Valey of the Tombs). It was impressive monuments above the ground and underground, in which it was placed the sarcophaguses at the antiquity. Some of it reach the 4 floors. Impressive however it was the underground monument of the “3 brothers” that allocated astonishing murals that portrayed Achilles, Odysseus and other Greek heroes of antiquity.
The valley that is found the monuments are in the Eastern side of the city, near the ancient market. The visit hour is until to 2pm. The employees observe with “religious” devotion of the noon hebetude. In the tourist period you can find the monuments open. Otherwise you must find the “key-holder” employee from the Museum in order to open for you!
The noon heat was intense, compelling us to seek a shady part. We visited the restaurant “Casa mia”, of our friend Mohammed. We found the chance to drink little tea and to deal with our internet communication with Theodoros Nikolaou, journalist of the greek newspaper “Ta Nea”, that wanted to write about our travel.
At 5pm. the heat was bearable. We visited the sanctuary of Bel, (price of ticket: 150S£/per person) the palace of the Queen Zinobia. The impressive and imposing central building was surrounded from a wall and tall columns. We wandered in the area enough, observing the bas-reliefs that adorned the walls.
Precisely outside from the sanctuary, it began the central avenue (1.400m.) of the ancient city. We walked at the length observing the ancient and trying to imagine the ancient market, the baths, the theatre… The avenue that led to its exit for Damascus, at “Tetrapilo” (=four gates) was cut with the 2nd most central avenue of the city. The square that was created constituted the “heart” of the ancient city.
The sun approached in its sunset. The best place in order to enjoy the sunset was the castle that dominated in the top of a hill. Paying the compensation (75S£/per person) we entered in the castle with a lot of galleries and corridors. An architecture that I had not seen until then somewhere else. Going up in its superior level, we could enjoy the panoramic view of the wider region: the ruins of the ancient Palmyra, the valley of Graves, the new city and naturally the splendid sunset. The sun was lost in the mountains coloring the region with an impressive cupreous nuance…
Unfortunately with the decline of the sun, it was heard the whistling of the guardian, signalling the expiry of the schedule… the guardian in a role of an arbitrator that whistled the end of the game… the end of our roaming.
We returned in our hotel and visited little later the restaurant of our friend Mohammed, for the last dinner in Palmyra.