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Even the director of this museum, Dr. Khalid Al-Assad... When the ISIS took over this area... This used to be the main attraction of Palmyra, The Bel Temple. ISIS exploded the whole temple with dynamite in 2017. Just check out how huge this gate must have been.. You won't be able to see the whole boundary wall anymore.

Only the few remaining sections that have survived. The locals must have gone through a really difficult time. Some of the buildings have almost disappeared completely. You can see that the whole city center looks like it's abandoned. These are truly heart breaking scenes.

Just look at these buildings. Today, this is mainly a military town. All you can see here are army check posts. The town is mostly inhabited by army personnel who are on duty here.

The rest is in front of you. The first place that I'm visiting in Palmyra is its museum. It was also attacked by ISIS. They have caused a lot of destruction here. Behind me, you can see what used to be a model of the Bel Temple.

We are also going to visit the Bel Temple later today. Anyways, the model of the temple in the museum was a really good one. It was made to present an accurate depiction of the temple for the visitors. As you can see, there is nothing left of that model now.

Let me share some other interesting things from this museum. This used to be the main hall of this museum. All the items that were on display are either stolen or destroyed. All the walls of this hall have been demolished. Same is true for the ceiling.

This is the current situation of the museum right now. The stone tablet in front of you shows 3 different languages. Greek.... Latin... And Aramaic.

Aramaic was a common language of this region and it's also the language of Jesus Christ. I showed you people who still speak Aramaic in my previous vlog from Maaloula. It was written from right to left and had 22 letters. If you observe closely, it is very similar to Hebrew.

Even the director of this museum, Dr. Khalid Al-Assad... When ISIS took control of this area... They slit his throat after hanging him on top of the Roman columns.

I don't have enough words to tell these horror stories. But it is pertinent to share the story of what transpired here. Let's go and visit the ruins of Palmyra now. We are standing outside the museum right now. If you look over to this side, there were many hotels and restaurants here.

Nothing's left anymore. There were government offices and city hall over here. It was a rather beautiful building. You can see from its columns that it was built in the old Roman style. Everything is done and dusted now. So this is the museum. Let's go in.

I've parked my motorcycle right here. Since we are heading towards the ruins now, we thought to go there by car. I've kept my jacket inside. Must be just a kilometer or so. I've been told that until 1930s, people would live inside these ruins. The city was shifted from there at a later stage.

These are the largest ruins in the world. The whole area is as large as 10 sq. km. Barely a small area is left intact now. Other than that, people would pick up anything that they would find here. It's actually quite a large area.

I thought it was only the area towards our right side. But there's a large area on our left side as well. And I'm the only tourist here right now. Looks really impressive.

I haven't seen this many columns in any other ruins before. Take a look... Isn't that impressive... This must be the location of the temple... The Bel Temple I mean. Or that one over there... These columns must be 40-50 meters high. Some columns have small statues in the middle portion.

You can only see in some of the columns. For instance these two columns don't have any.. But the previous one did have. That structure is still in good shape.

This is as far as our motorcycle (Rangeeli) could go. The next part is gonna be on foot. This is the Bel Temple... that used to be the main attraction of the Palmyra city. Not just any tourist attraction... Let me get into details... This was a very important site for Palmyrians. Because this temple was dedicated to their holiest God.

I'm gonna share more details about this temple by showing some footage. You will see tall columns all around the temple. Not all of them are present now. There was a very huge wall behind the columns. The whole wall has come down except for a few sections.

Other than that, you will see a huge gate to enter the temple... It's just where I parked the motorcycle. Now let's talk about the gate that you can see in the middle. This gate is in fact the temple.

Everything else was a part of the temple where different people would come and gather. But this gate was the main temple. It had an adjacent room with the statue of their God. However, when ISIS came to this region, they demolished the whole thing. I'll try to find some pictures from the internet to show you.

Just to give you a perspective as to how this temple used to look like before ISIS. We'll also go further into the ruins and explore what's left of the place. This is the current situation of the temple. ISIS exploded the whole thing with dynamite in 2017. All you can see now are just big rocks.

And this gives you an idea about the intensity of that explosion. These are really huge rocks. And iron bars were used to connect two different rocks.. back in those days. You can see that in these shots.

But it's unbelievable. It gives you a strange feeling to see such an iconic place in this condition. This is the main street and perhaps the most beautiful one. Because you see tall and beautiful columns on both of its sides.

Its total length is 1.2 km. It ends at the Bel Temple... from where we have come... People would pass through this street to go to the temple.

You will get to see some beautiful arches at some points. Some have been demolished by ISIS. But you can still see a number of columns. The statues on the columns belonged to the famous personalities of the city. But none of them remains anymore. Other than that, there were houses and market on both sides of this street.

You may still find some remains of old shops. Let's see if we can visit some places here. This is the theater of Palmyra.

Back in the day, the local population was about 150 thousand. That's not an exact figure though. Just an estimation based on many parameters such as the area of ​​this region. Taking that into consideration, this theater is not too big. Because many other ancient but much smaller cities had much bigger theaters.

It had only 10 routes of seats. In my opinion it's just enough for hardly 2000 people or so. But it is really beautiful. A great front view. It really impresses you at the very first sight. It's small but beautiful without a doubt.

Its main attraction was a monument in the middle. It was also demolished by ISIS. There are two gates on both its sides for the entrance of general public. There's a small doorway in the middle... perhaps for the entry of performers or animals for the show.

The theater shares another sad story... When ISIS took over, there were almost 40-50 soldiers of Syrian army here. The ISIS slaughtered those soldiers at the stage of this theater. Let's end the tour of this site at this point. I tried my best to show you this area. There are a lot of other spots to see here but the Syrian army and the Russian army are encamped there.

That's why that part is off bounds. But I think we've had enough of this site. There's a small village just by the outer wall of the temple. You'll find mud houses and palm trees. But if you look closely, you'll see that the palm trees are black. That's because ISIS set all of them on fire.

Now, even the owners of these farms have left this region. Let's get going now. Just check out the gate.. Must have been a huge one. And you won't see this wall all around it.. Only the few sections that have survived everything. The section with column is in relatively better condition.

This area had markets, houses and much more. And there were other temples as well. Bismillah... In the name of Allah...

*Prayer for the journey* I pray for the safety and well being during the next part of our journey. Leaving the area now. First thing to do now is to go back to Homs. And if I'm not mistaken, then according to our schedule, we'll spend the night in Hama. Hama is not too far from Homs; just 40 - 45 minutes away. Could be 2.5 - 3 hours before we reach Homs.

Add another hour for the next part. That means another 3-4 hours of ride. There were many hotels in this part... but nothing is left of them today.

That's a sad reality in today's Middle East. Even if a country is safe today, you are never sure about its future. That's how things have been for the last 25 years or so. We are gonna pass through the town center in some time. Following the same route to return as well. I haven't seen a single restaurant here so far.

I'm feeling hungry but the guide has told me that we'll eat in some time. You can see whole houses reduced to rubble. Apparently a column from Roman times is incorrect here.

Or maybe it has always been here. Can you see that castle at the top of that mountain? It's a 19th century castle known by the name of Arab castle. It was also severely damaged by shelling. The route to the castle is closed and it is forbidden to go there. Army personnel might be posted there due to the strategic location of the castle. Hence no tourist is allowed there.

Time for a quick break here. At the exact same location where we stopped when we were going the other way. We are now in the Homs area. As soon as we leave the highway, we'll be in the city.

But we just want to keep going without entering the city. We might need some fuel as well. Since this area is not too far from Lebanon, it is easier to get smuggled petrol here.

However, it may not be the case at our next destination. Therefore, it will be wise to get the fuel stock for next 2-3 days. The guide's car must need 40-50 liters for sure.

The motorcycle also consumes at least 10 liters each day. After crossing the next check post, we'll enter the city of Homs. The buildings that you can see on the right are from the pre-war era. But nobody lives in them as they are just partially complete. No further work could be done here. And perhaps, those construction companies are out of business today.

Anyways, a lot of buildings were in fact under construction. I'm just following my guide and I think we'll go to some petrol station now. That's where he's hopeful of getting petrol.

Well... Well.... I was following the wrong Kia because the guide is in the one next to this Kia. Somehow I found myself riding beside two different Kias. This is the one that I need to be following.

The guide also needs to see some car mechanic for a thing or two. I hope that this car as well as Rangeeli (motorcycle) both stay out of trouble for the rest of this trip. The city looks quite lively now. People will go back to their houses after sunset as it gets dark. Because all this hustle and bustle will die out due to electric power outage.

It's already 8 pm and we still need to go to Hama. And if we add another hour to the time, I'm afraid, we won't get there before 10. Riding till late in the night is not something healthy. If I were riding solo and the situation of Syria had been normal, I would have stayed in Palmyra for the night. Or I would have spent the night in Hama.

Oh.. not Hama.... excuse me.. I mean Homs. Hama is where we are going. Looks like a daredevil... but he might put the life of his friend in danger. So, this is the Aleppo highway. It will pass by Hama before it reaches Aleppo. When are we going to Aleppo...?? Probably tomorrow or day after tomorrow.

But today we'll only go as far as Hama which is almost 40-50 km from here. When you are riding on GT Road in Pakistan, you get to see road side restaurants along the outskirts of cities. At the entrance or exit of any city... It's very similar. We've reached another check post.

When you arrive at any city late in the night, you don't really get to know the place you have reached. You have no clue about what you are seeing and still not seeing. It's not too bad if there were some electricity. Unfortunately, it's more like a zombie land for now. This is the first square of this city. Exactly as I've predicted about the situation of electric power in this city...

The same problem persists here. Someone is honking in his car behind me... Man... What have I ever done to you to deserve this. What's the matter with these guys...?? O these are public transport vehicles... I thought they were Police.

It's 9:15 pm and almost 90% of the city is closed. Only a few shops and restaurants are open. Mostly some small kiosk... or someone selling street food on a cart. That's all I could see.

Finally we are in the streets at a place that looks like there might be a hotel here. I don't have much hopes with our hotel tonight. They are asking me to get the motorcycle in. Don't want to fall down. Hotel Noria.

Assalam Alekum Let me get the stuff. This is our room for tonight, guys. Nice room. Not really a room...but sort of a studio apartment.

It's only missing a kitchen. There's a nice looking drawing room with sofas to chill out. And the bed is on the other side. The good thing is that they have electricity. I can charge all my batteries and the equipment.

We have an AC as well... And it's working... There's no electricity in the whole city but my AC is working. I can finally expect to get a good night's sleep. My pizza is here... I'm gonna finish it... Take some pain killer and sleep. Hope to get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep tonight.

2022-09-26 02:58

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