While poorly preserved, the baths (الحمامات) of Palmyra (تدمر) offer some insight into the public amenities of this ancient city during the late Roman period. In 273, prior to their construction, Emperor Aurelian’s troops had inflicted major destruction upon the city in response to a Palmyrene rebellion against Roman rule. During the subsequent reign of Diocletian (284-305), several building projects were undertaken as part of a decision by the Roman emperor to establish the city as an important military outpost. The public baths (الحمامات) were completed during this time, over the remains of an earlier building believed to have been Queen Zenobia’s palace. They are often referred to as the Baths of Diocletian.
The baths (الحمامات) are located on the northeastern side of the colonnade, just northwest of the monumental arch (قوس النصر) and east of the theater (مسرح). The complex’s entrance features four massive Egyptian granite columns, each weighing twenty tons and measuring over one meter in diameter and over twelve meters high. These columns once carried a pediment over the entrance, but this has been lost. Aside from this remarkable entrance, much of the baths (الحمامات) are in ruin and do not survive above the level of the foundations. Inside, the outline of a bathing pool surrounded by a colonnade of Corinthian columns is still visible, in addition to an octagonal room that served as a dressing room containing a drain in its center.
Preservation Status: The archaeological remains of Palmyra (تدمر), including the funerary temple (المعبد الجنائزي), are under enormous risk. Since May 2015, the town and environs have been under control of the Islamic State (الدولة الإسلامية) militant group, committed iconoclasts who have purposely targeted archaeological heritage in both Syria and Iraq for destruction. There have been numerous reports of explosives being planted throughout the site, which may include the baths (الحمامات).
Getting There: Palmyra (تدمر) is located at a major crossroads in the Syrian desert between three major cities. It is located east of Homs (حمص), northeast of Damascus (دمشق) and southwest of Deir al-Zur (دير الزور). Most buses traveling between Homs (حمص) or Damascus (دمشق) and Deir al-Zur (دير الزور) will stop in Palmyra (تدمر). The baths (الحمامات) are located just northwest of the monumental arch (قوس النصر) and east of the theater (مسرح).
Coordinates: 34°33’03.00″N / 38°16’13.00″E
Transliteration Variants: Tadmur, Tadmour
Rating: (5 / 10)