After recovering from an extremely eventful night in Damascus, we woke up at 10am this morning to drive south 2 hours to Bosra. Along the way we got to check out a very deserted rest stop where a man named Qasim Al-Deri asked if we knew another tour leader named Paris.
I raised my hand. Of course I did.
About an hour later we reached Bosra, most well known for its ties to the Roman era when it was a prosperous provincial capital until its decline during the Ottoman Empire.
Nevertheless it remains a major archaeological site and has been declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Getting past its gate, we walked through the old center of Bosra while being followed by the occasional postcard and souvenir touts that seemed to have stationed themselves at equidistant parts of Bosra’s ancient straight street.
The Corinthian-style columns remained remarkably upright, with flourishes still retaining their intricate details.
We then climbed up to look down at the former bathhouse:
From another vantage point you can observe Bosra’s old cathedral and basilica.
Here we learned about the story of The King’s Daughter’s Bed, where the king built a bed on top of a column here (that still stands today) to forestall the prophecy that she would meet an untimely and premature death.
The story goes: Once upon a time in the Kingdom of Bosra, a fortune-teller had told the king that his only daughter would die on her 20th birthday from a scorpion’s sting. In response, the king desperately tried to avoid this by ordering her bed to be built at the maximum height that his most skilled builders could reach at the time.
After the bed was built, the king’s enslaved people would deliver food and water to the king’s daughter with ropes. However, on the predicted day of her demise, a basket of fruit was lifted up to her in which a scorpion was hidden under a cluster of green grapes. You then know the rest.
Like the theme of all Greek tragedies: you can’t avoid the fate that has been predestined for you.
After 45 minutes exploring the ancient city ruins, we finally reached the glorious Roman Amphitheatre.
The entrance past the bridge already suggested something out of this world was waiting for us.
We keep climbing…
At 45m long and 8.5m deep, Bosra’s theater is jaw-droppingly well preserved.
Again with the perennial theme of this trip, we had the theater all to ourselves save for a single Syrian journalist from the state news agency SANA who lingered here to interview us about tourism reopening in Syria. As the biggest group of Americans to ever have visited Syria since the civil war, we made for a great piece.
His article, right on time, came out the next morning.
After the interview, we slowly made our way down to get a look at the main stage up close; here comparisons were made to Arthur Ashe or Forest Hills stadium back in Queens, New York.
Even the backstage has remained so intact it’s as if this place was abandoned just yesterday:
My mind filled with possible event ideas that could take place here once Syria opens up more:
After an hour here and before returning back to Damascus, we enjoyed a remarkable homemade fatayeh lunch right by the amphitheater’s entrance.
The restaurant’s owner, a Sunni Muslim, related to Nishant his personal views of the state of affairs here in Syria which were noticeably different from the viewpoints we had heard more north in Damascus.
After lunch we drove back to Damascus where we had enough leftover free time to explore the old town of Damascus on our own.
Instead of shopping, I took a half an hour’s walk by myself in the maze-like corridors of the old city. What struck me the most once I got off the beaten path from the constant staring that tourists would be used to in many parts of Damascus, nobody in these back alleyways batted me an eye.
After our last dinner at Naranj, a fancy restaurant and venue usually booked for weddings, we ventured out for karaoke at a bar called St. Paul’s, where Sampson shocked us all by having WAP make another surprise appearance. Although at first we were taken aback as we had been when we heard it last night at the salsa party, we were immediately reassured when the other local Syrian groups of friends joined in earnest and even sung along louder to WAP than he did.
And right on time, our guide Ophelias boss and owner of Golden Team, Fadi, made an appearance himself to sing 2 songs as well as thanking us for visiting Syria. He also brought two co-workers, Carmen and Serena, the latter of whom got in an impressive rendition of “Sway.”
As the night went on with hits such as Titanium and Anaconda (sung and even danced to by a local Syrian that looked like Sam Smith), and even Old Country Road that was requested by a local instead of us Americans, we headed back for bed by 2am. This sadly was our last night here in Syria.
- At time of posting in Bosra, it was n/a - Humidity: n/a | Wind Speed: n/a | Cloud Cover: n/a