Isis takes control of Palmyra: The ruins and monuments facing destruction

Militants claim to have complete control of the Unesco World Heritage Site

Heather Saul
Thursday 21 May 2015 14:12
Palmyra is a Unesco World Heritage site
Palmyra is a Unesco World Heritage site

Isis has taken over the ancient city of Palmyra, threatening the future of irreplaceable monuments and ruins which represent thousands of years of cultural history.

Palmyra was visited by thousands of tourists annually before civil war broke out in Syria four years ago. These are just a few of the monuments at risk of being destroyed by militants.

Temple of Baal

The stone ruins of the Temple of Baal are considered to be one of the most important religious buildings of the 1st century AD in the East, according to Unesco. The temple was integral to religious life in Palmyra and represented a marriage of ancient Near Eastern and Greco-Roman architecture.

The Temple of Baal at Palmyra has already been damaged by artillery fire

The Great Colonnade

A grand colonnaded street measuring 1100 metres long was the main avenue for Palmyra and linked the Temple of Baal to the West Gate and the Funerary Temple. It was built in several stages throughout the 2nd and 3rd century.

A view of the Great Colonnade in Palmyra

Roman Theatre at Palmyra

The theatre was built in the 2nd century but work on the building was never completed. The structure was restored in the 20th century and served as a venue for an annual festival in Palmyra.

A Syrian police officer patrols the ancient city of Palmyra

Palmyra Museum

The archaeological museum is filled with statues and ancient artefacts, many of which have been transferred outside of the city. However, some larger artefacts and stone tombs are too large to move. Maamoun Abdulkarim, Syria’s director-general of antiquities and museums, said he was "terrified" by the developments overnight.

“The fear is for the museum and the large monuments that cannot be moved," he told the Associated Press. "This is the entire world’s battle."

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