Palmyra – Tetrapylon تدمر – التترابيل

Palmyra - Tetrapylon (تدمر - التترابيل)

Unlike most Roman cities in the region, the ancient city of Palmyra (تدمر) did not conform to the standard city plan of two intersecting colonnaded streets aligned to the points of the compass. The main colonnaded street of Palmyra (تدمر) twice changes direction, and at these points unique architectural devices were employed to make the route appear more harmonious. One of these is the monumental tetrapylon (التترابيل), marking the location of a ten degree pivot in the main colonnade and an important intersection.

The tetrapylon (التترابيل) consists of a stepped square platform that features a plinth in each corner. Each plinth supports four columns that are topped by a solid cornice weighing over one hundred and fifty tons. The original columns were carved from pink granite that was imported from Aswan, Egypt. Only one of these columns survives, while the others are concrete reconstructions that date to a 1963 restoration. The monument is technically a group of four tetrapylons, and can more accurately be described as a tetrakionion. At the center of each is a pedestal that would have originally carried a statue. The tetrapylon (التترابيل) is believed to have been constructed during the reign of Diocletian, at the end of the third century.


Preservation Status: The archaeological remains of Palmyra (تدمر), including the tetrapylon (التترابيل), 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 this monument.

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 tetrapylon (التترابيل) is located a short walk northwestern of the theater (مسرح) and northeast of the agora (الآغورا).

Coordinates: 34°33’06.00″N / 38°16’05.00″E

Transliteration Variants: Tadmur, Tadmour

Rating: 5 / 10

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