Ancient Bosra - History and Facts | History Hit

Ancient Bosra

Bosra, Daraa, Syria

Ancient Bosra contains a number of spectacular historic remains, chief of which is the incredible 2nd century AD Roman Theatre.

Peta Stamper

24 Jul 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Ancient Bosra

The ruins of Ancient Bosra are among the most spectacular historic remains in Syria. Among the sites to see in Bosra is the incredible 2nd century AD Bosra Theatre along with a host of Nabatean, Roman, Byzantine and early Muslim structures.

Ancient Bosra history

The ancient city itself dates back far into antiquity, with references to the settlement stretching back as far as the 14th century BC. However, it was under the Nabataeans that the city rose to prominence, becoming an important centre of the kingdom. Conquered by Rome in 106 AD, Bosra soon became the capital of the Roman province of Arabia and at its peak held over 80,000 inhabitants.

In the Byzantine era the city was an important military and trading border town. Bosra changed hands between the Byzantine and Persian empires before being captured during the early Islamic expansion in 634 AD.

Under Muslim rule the city continued to thrive for several centuries and was an important stopping point for both traders and pilgrims on the route to Mecca. In the latter middle ages the political prominence of Bosra waned and the city slowly dwindled in size.

Ancient Bosra today

Today, a small city still remains alongside a huge array of fascinating archaeological sites. Chief among the ruins at Bosra is the 2nd century AD Roman theatre. Built under the Roman emperor Trajan, it would have originally held up to 15,000 people.

During the early Islamic period the theatre was converted into a citadel which helped to ensure its survival and explains the excellent state of preservation nowadays. The site also boasts the ruins of an ancient Roman circus, the outline of which can still be seen.

Also found at the site of Ancient Bosra are the remains of a Roman bath complex, Nabatean and Roman monuments, early Christian churches including the 6th-century cathedral of Bosra and important sites from the early Islamic period including the Al-Omari Mosque, said to be the 3rd oldest surviving mosque in the world.

Getting to Ancient Bosra

Situated along the 109 motorway in Syria, Ancient Bosra is a 2 and a half hour drive from Amman in Jordan via the Damascus Highway or Damascus itself via the M5, 2 hours away.

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