Territory

Wonders of Syria

The unusual Shmemis (CHmemis) castle
The unusual Shmemis (CHmemis) castle. / NeferTiyi, Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

WorldBlue  Highlights

The sands in Syria most likely hide many secrets which one day will tell how the civilization started on Earth. Throughout many millennia in this country appeared and disappeared many cities (it is well possible that the first cities appeared here), some persist up to this day, some are in ruins but many are covered with sand. Here are found some of the oldest fortifications, palaces, castles, and some of the oldest Christian churches.

Map with the described wonders of Syria

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WorldViolet Top 25 wonders of Syria

Archaeological wonders of Syria

Palmyra

Homs

Important ancient city – caravan stop. Existing since at least the 2nd millenia BC, abandoned after the 16th century AD. Now impressive ruins remain – temple of Ba’al (the 1st – 2nd century AD), decumanus with arch, theater and others. City had its own alphabet.

Ruins of Palmyra from above, Syria
Shmemis (Chmemis)

Hama

Remnants of ancient castle that was built on the top of an ancient volcano. Originally it was built in the 1st century BC but later several times rebuilt. The sight of this castle is very impressive.

Shmemis Castle ruins on the top of extinct volcano, Syria
Bosra

Daraa

Ruins of an ancient metropolis, the oldest Nabatean city (the 2nd century BC). Later it became an important Roman (capital of Arabia province) and Byzantine city. Major buildings here are Roman theater, Al-Omari Mosque and many ancient shrines.

Dura-Europos synagogue

Deiz ez-Zor

Ruins of one of the oldest synagogues in the world, built in 244 AD. This building is adorned with wall paintings.

Ain Dara Temple

Aleppo

Remains of Iron Age temple that was active in 1300 – 740 BC (Syto-Hittite culture). Temple is similar to the Solomon’s Temple as described in Bible, but older. Artwork includes sculptures of lions, sphinxes, footprints.

Ain Dara Temple
Palmyra Roman Theater

Homs

Large, well preserved and partly renewed Roman theater. It was built in the early 1st century AD.

Roman Theater in Palmyra
Rujm-el-Hiri

Quneitra

Enormous megalithic monument consisting of several concentric stone rings with more than 42 000 basalt rocks.

Rujm El Hiri, Syria
Great Colonnade of Apamea

Hama

Impressive colonnaded avenue that was built in the second century AD. Colonnade was almost 2 km long and thus – one of most impressive ones in the Roman world.

Great Colonnade of Apamea, Syria
Qalb Loze Church

Idlib

One of the best preserved Byzantine churches in this region, built in the 460s AD. Early example of Romanesque architecture style.

Qalb Loze Church
Church of Saint Simeon Stylites

Aleppo

Ruins of an enormous church, the oldest existing Byzantine church that was built in the 475 AD.

Church of Saint Simeon Stylites, Syria
Serjilla

Idlib

This former town was founded in 473 AD by Christians and abandoned in the 7th century AD.

Ruins of Serjilla, Syria
Bosra Roman Theater

Daraa

Large, well preserved Roman theater, built in the first half of the 2nd century AD. This was one of the largest Roman theaters ever built, with a room for 15,000 spectators.

Bosra Roman Theatre, Syria
Apamea

Hama

Ruins of the former capital city of Apamente. City started as a fortress that was built sometimes around 300 BC. City was very rich and at some moments here were living up to 1 million people. Abandoned in the 13th century. Contains ruins of an enormous Roman theater and the impressive Great Colonnade of Apamea.

Dura-Europos house church

Deiz ez-Zor

One of the oldest Christian house churches – a family house that was converted into church sometimes around 233 – 256 AD. Possibly the oldest church in the world. It is adorned with frescoes – possibly the oldest Christian paintings.

Remnants of Dura-Europos house church, Syria

Architecture wonders of Syria

Damascus

Damascus

Very old city, inhabited since 6300 BC, developed as a city in the 3rd millenium BC. Important centre of steel and lace production in medieval times. City has hundreds of beautiful and historically significant buildings, such as Umayyad Mosque – one of the most significant buildings in Near East.

Krak des Chevaliers

Homs

One of the most prominent and impressive medieval castles in the world. Kurds developed a fortress since the 11th century here, but Crusaders rebuilt it in the 1140ies – 1170 and in the 13th century.

Fire in Krak des Chevaliers, 2013
Citadel of Aleppo and Old City

Aleppo

One of oldest continuously inhabited cities. The settlement existed here already in 6000 BC, development of the city started sometime around 2000 BC. The Citadel of Aleppo rises 50 m above the city and contains ruins of magnificent Arab buildings and older structures. Old City has retained its Graeco-Roman planning and contains remnants of the 6th-century Christian buildings and other old structures. The urban fabric of Aleppo is distinct, with separate districts.

Citadel of Aleppo, Syria
Umayyad Mosque

Damascus

This is one of the largest and oldest mosques in world and is of great importance to Christians as well, reportedly containing the head of John the Baptist. It was built in 706-715 and before this time served as a church.

Umayyad Mosque in Damascus
Great Mosque of Aleppo

Aleppo

This mosque was built in the 13th century in the site of an older mosque. Minaret is from 1090 or older. According to legend here is buried father of John the Baptist.

Great Mosque of Aleppo
Masyaf Castle

Hama

An impressive castle on a hilltop, former center of Syrian Assassin sect in 1141 – end of the 13th century.

Arwad

Tartus

Small island that is fully covered with the historical Arwad town. Here is located also the impressive Arwad castle.

Deir Mar Musa (Monastery of Saint Moses the Abyssinian)

Rif Dimashq

Syriac Orthodox monastery that was developed in the middle of the 6th century. It is located in a mountainous, impressive setting. Church contains very impressive artwork – frescoes from the 11th – 12th centuries.

Frescoes in Deir Mar Musa, Syria
Margat

Tartus

An impressive fortress / castle, built by Muslims (1062) and later – Crusaders. Served as headquarters of Hospitallers and was rebuilt by them in the end of the 12th century AD.

Margat
Al-Omari Mosque

Daraa

Beautiful, old mosque, built in 721 AD.

Mar Sarkis Monastery

Rif Dimashq

One of the oldest Christian monasteries, built in the site of a pagan temple. Buildings contain elements from the Byzantine period, the 5th – 6th centuries AD. In the monastery are two very old icons that belong to the oldest in the world.

WorldYellow Recommended books

The Ayyubid Era: Art and Architecture in Medieval Syria


This new MWNF Travel Book was conceived not long before the war started. All texts refer to the pre-war situation and are our expression of hope that Syria, a land that witnessed the evolution of civilization since the beginnings of human history, may soon become a place of peace and the driving force behind a new and peaceful beginning for the entire region. Bilad al-Sham testifies to a thorough and strategic program of urban reconstruction and reunification during the 12th and 13th centuries. Amidst a period of fragmentation, visionary leadership came with the Atabeg Nur al-Din Zangi. He revived Syria’s cities as safe havens to restore order…

Lens on Syria: A Photographic Tour of Its Ancient and Modern Culture


Thousands of remarkable monuments and relics fill the land of Syria from the coast of the Mediterranean to its desert borders, dating back to the dawn of human history. The sites include: Bronze Age ruins, Roman temples and necropolises, churches and monasteries from the early Christian and Byzantine eras, Muslim forts and mosques, Crusader castles, and many more. When conflict broke out in 2011, these treasures were put at great risk, and in subsequent years, many were destroyed in battles—some were even the intentional targets of extremists.


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