Syria: Palmyra – Temple of Bel

Palmyra is one of the greatest cities of Antiquity, located on the ancient Silk Route deep in the present day Syria in the desert. By around 250 AD, Palmyra reached its apogee and absolute grandeur. Today, the ruins are sprawling and consisting of quite a few complexes, one of the grandest is the Temple of Bel. It was the center of the religious life in Palmyra, dedicated to the ancient Mesopotamian god and built mostly around 32 AD. The huge and lavishly decorated temple stood in the middle of a giant walled complex, with many columns and other structures. The Temple of Bel was considered among the best preserved temples of the antiquity, on par with Baalbek’s treasures. Sadly, ISIL brought immense destruction to the temple in 2015-17, searching for gold and treasures, blowing up many sections of the temple with explosives. By August 2015, United Nations confirmed total destruction of the temple – just bricks and column scattered around the site, visible from satellite photos. After the Syrian army retook Palmyra, the damage was surveyed and reconstruction slowly began. We had the entire site just for ourselves, a totally unique experience.