Palmyra is Syria’s star tourist attraction and one of the world’s most splendid historical sites. Known to the locals as Tadmor (its ancient Semitic name), Palmyra’s intriguing history, along with the profusion of colonnades, temple remains and funerary towers, in a mesmerising desert oasis setting, renders visitors speechless.
The ruins, dating largely to the 2nd century AD, cover some 50 hectares and have been extensively excavated and restored. Nevertheless, archaeologists continually make new finds. In 1994, for instance, Belgian archaeologists stumbled across Roman tombs southeast of the Temple of Bel. The new town has grown around the ruins, especially towards the west, and now has more than 40, 000 inhabitants who survive on agriculture, trade and tourism.