Centrally located in the acropolis of Palmyra (تدمر) are the remains of the ancient city’s theater (مسرح). Largely buried under sand until the 1950s, the structure has since been excavated and restored, representing one of the most well-preserved Roman theaters in Syria outside of Bosra (بصری). The theater (مسرح) was constructed in the first half of the second century according to Polish archaeologist Kazimierz Michałowski. It was built in the center of a semicircular colonnaded plaza which opened to the city’s southern gate.
The seating area is ninety-two meters in diameter, but only the lowest section of twelve rows survive. It is argued that additional rows of seating would have been constructed from wood, and were therefore not preserved. The seating faces north-northeast. The stage of the theater (مسرح) is particularly impressive, with a beautifully decorated façade. The stage measures forty-five and a half by ten and a half meters. It features three doorways in its façade, with one additional doorway on each end. The columns on the stage are decorated with Corinthian capitals. Emperor Nero is known to have placed his statue in the niche above the main entrance of the stage.
Preservation Status: The archaeological remains of Palmyra (تدمر), including the theater (مسرح), 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. While there does not appear to have been any structural damage inflicted upon the theater (مسرح) thus far, it has been the site of mass executions performed by Islamic State (الدولة الإسلامية).
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 theater (مسرح) is located in the central area of the acropolis, not far west of the monumental arch (قوس النصر).
Coordinates: 34°33’03.00″N / 38°16’08.00″E
Transliteration Variants: Tadmur, Tadmour
Rating: (7 / 10)