Location: Daraa Governorate


Bosra is a major ancient city that is put on an UNESCO Word Heritage Site. It is no surprise that it is one of the most popular destinations. The town of Bosra is first mentioned in the chronicles of an Egyptian pharaohs of Tutmose III and Akhenaton in the 14th century BC. Due to its strategic location on intersection of trade routes the city prospered under Nabateans, as a provincial capital under Romans, Byzantium and Muslim controls.


For the first time, the settlement is mentioned in documents from the time of Thutmose III and Amenhotep IV (XIV century BC). Bosra was the first Nabataean city in the second century BC. The Nabataean kingdom was conquered by Cornelius Palma, legate prophet of Syria, in 106.

Under the rule of the Roman Empire, Bosra was renamed Nova Trayana Bostra and became the capital of the Roman province of Arabia, Petra. The third legion of Cyrenaica was stationed here. The city flourished and became a metropolis at the intersection of several trade routes, including the Roman road Via Traiana Nova to the Red Sea. Two early Christian churches were built in Bosra in 246 and 247.

Subsequently, after the division of the Roman Empire into Western and Eastern, the city came under the rule of the Byzantine Empire and was conquered by the Sassanid Empire at the beginning of the seventh century, the city finally conquered the army of the Arab Caliphate under the command of Khalid ibn Walid in the Battle of Bosra in 634.

Today, Bosra is an important archaeological site where the ruins of Roman, Byzantine and Muslim times are located, as well as one of the best-preserved Roman theaters in the world, which hosts a national music festival every year (as of 2011).



Bosra was a very prosperous city. An obligatory passage for caravans from Arabia, its commercial importance was enormous, and it had 50,000 inhabitants.

Mentioned for the first time in the Amarna Letters (14th century BC), under the name of Busrana, it is not really developed until the 2nd century BC. C., when it became the northern capital of the Nabataeans, although the official title was not granted until the 1st century, under Rabbel II.

In 106 it became the capital of the Roman province of Arabia Petrea, created by Trajan after the annexation of the Nabataean kingdom. Being located on an important communication route, the Via Nova Trajana, more than 5,000 legionaries settled there, and it soon became the definitive garrison of the Legio III Cyrenaica. Enlarged and embellished with public buildings organized around a cardo and a decumanus, it was renamed Nova Trajana Bostra by Trajan between 98 and 117. During that same century, the great theater with 17,000 seats was built, one of the largest in the Roman East, which It has been preserved almost intact to this day.

From the beginning of the 3rd century, Christianity, in full expansion, modified the urban landscape: Numerous churches and a cathedral dedicated to saints Sergius, Bacchus and Leontius were built.

By the year 500, in the Eastern Roman Empire, bishops and their clergy had assumed many of the duties previously the responsibility of municipal councils. In Bosra the bishop built his own prison, in which he was to house and feed the criminals awaiting trial from him.

In the 6th century Bosra was the capital of the Ghassanids, a Monophysite Christian Arab tribe who formed a small client state of Byzantium in the border area of the Syrian desert.

The Sassanid monarch Khosrau II invaded Syria in 611, conquering Jerusalem in 614 and Egypt in 619. Only in 628 did Emperor Heraclius defeat the Persians and reestablish the ancient border between both empires. In 629 the withdrawal of the Persian armies from Syria and Egypt was negotiated, and the reestablishment of Byzantine rule in the newly recovered provinces was undertaken.

According to Muslim tradition, it was during a visit to Bosra during his youth that Muhammad (ca. 570-632) was introduced to monotheism by the Christian monk Bahira. Bosra was the first major Byzantine city to be taken by Muslims, in 634. It is not clear whether it had a Byzantine military garrison, but it appears to have offered little resistance to the Arab invaders. After the conquest of the city, the region became a battlefield between Muslims and Byzantines, who were fighting for control of Syria.

Thirty-six mosques were built, including Omar's, and many Christians converted to Islam. The Seljuks ruled the city from the late 11th century, restoring its prosperity and protecting it from the Crusaders.

Nur al-Din fortified the Roman theater and turned it into a true citadel, which was not conquered until the arrival of the Mongols. Baibars restored it in 1261.

When the Mecca route was diverted from Bosra, in part to prevent banditry in the Hauran region, the city lost its importance and was reduced to a small town, which did not gain popularity again until, in 1886, thousands of Druze settled in the place.


Sights of the city

The city offers numerous evidence of its eventful past. The best known and most impressive is the well-preserved Roman theater, which - like much of the other Roman evidence - was built in the third century AD under the Roman Emperor Severus Alexander. 15,000 spectators could be accommodated here. Like other Roman theaters, this building also has remarkable acoustics. The lower tiers and the orchestra were built into the ground in order to be able to structurally support the steep tiers. The building is well preserved primarily because it was not used as a quarry in post-Roman times, but was expanded into a citadel by the Arab rulers. The Roman city stretches northwards at the foot of the theater. Here are the remains of the thermal baths, an impressive colonnaded street that was Bosra's main artery in ancient times and the sanctuary of Cybele. Next to it is a 6th-century cathedral of Saints Sergius, Leontius and Bacchus. In the northeast of the city is the Mabrak an Naba Mosque, which was built in 1136 and named after the camel that is said to have carried the first copy of the Koran to Syria. To the south of it you can see the 13th century Fatima Mosque.

To the east of the city you can see the ruins of a palace, the foundations of which probably date from the Nabataean period. Nearby is a large cistern (Arabic: Birkat al-Hajj) and not far from it is the Yaqut Mosque with a madrasa from the 13th century (see illustration).

To the west of the Old City are the Lamp Gate (Bab al-Kandil), large underground storage rooms for local products and sparse remains of the Tetrapylon. Near the old market square is Bosra's largest mosque, the Umari Mosque.

Sights in the surrounding area
Near Bostra, the Roman-era bridges of Kharaba and Djemerrin cross the Wadi Zeidi.