Bosra, Syrian Arab Republic
32° 30' N 36° 29' E
Oct 02, 2008 18:25
Distance 111km

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Text written in: English

One of Those Days that Just Work

I must have a short attention span, because after walking about Damascus the previous afternoon, I was keen to get out of the city.  Headed for Bosra, a town 130K south of the city (2 ½ hours journey) and right on the Jordan/Syrian border.  This town of a few thousand is deservedly famous for its Roman Theatre.  The 15,000 seat theatre was built around 200 AD.  It was still in working condition, most of it in perfect condition.  Unlike most Roman theatres, it was free standing, meaning it was not carved out of the side of a hill.  You were able to walk wherever you pleased, including to the impressive backstage area.  The theatre was later fortified to become a fortress.  The seats were hard, each one was carved from solid stone and fitted together perfectly, the stairs were very steep but the sight lines and acoustics were excellent.  Another top-class site - Roman theatres cannot get better than this.

Got back by mid-afternoon.  Headed for the deserted city centre, for a cup of coffee in one of the finer Syrian hotels.  Just wanted to absorb the wonder of Damascus.  Had one of those days where everything just worked out.

Photos / videos of "One of Those Days that Just Work":

My bus out to Bosra.  It was a crowded public bus, with not an empty seat. The bus does not leave the station until it is full.  Very cheap, like $2 for the trip of 1 1/2 hours from Damascus to Bosra. Syria is a dry, almost desert-like country.  Once in a while you see some agriculture, but not much.  Also the odd herd of sheep was out in the open, but generally there are empty, flat, open areas with little vegetation. Looking down on the Roman theatre at Bosra.  Still in working condition.  The theatre was built around 200 AD. Seats upwards of 15,000. Backstage, behind the main stage.  After the theatre was built for plays, it was added to, so it was also a fortress.  Parts of the backstage were for the fortress, not the actors. Looking out on the stage from one of the wings.  The theatre is still used for events, including an annual music festival. The fortress part of the theatre.  You were allowed to go wherever you wanted in the theatre.  Easy to get lost, as there was no signs as to how to get out.  Took me some time to figure this out. A Roman mosaic in the fortress part of the theatre.  This mosaic was about 5 metres high and 3 or 4 metres wide. Some of the staging areas off to the side of the stage. Looking down from the top centre row of the theatre.  Very steep slope, but superb sight-lines and acoustics. Zooming in on the columns on the right side of the stage, which are in almost perfect condition. They must not get a lot of earthquakes here, as this is why ancient sites are often a pile of fallen columns. View from the top aisle of the theatre, looking out on the town of Bosra and the surrounding area.  Besides the theatre, there would be no reason to visit the town.  No idea of population, but not much. Another view looking over the top of the outside wall of the theatre. The seats of the theatre.  Note how each is carved and shaped and fitted together like a perfect puzzle.  I was not expecting such detail and precision. A camel at the entrance to the remains of the old city of Bosra.  Nothing much left, just piles of rubble and a Roman bath in very poor shape. Some olive groves along the road back to Damascus. Open field and tent for the wandering shepherds. Some more farming - there must be irrigation here. The typical view along the way back, dry and, unfortunately, lots of plastic garbage.