Before the start of the civil war, Syria was one of the most rewarding countries to visit in the Middle East. Damascus, Aleppo and Hama were all fascinating cities to explore and even at the height of their popularity as tourist destinations, Syria’s numerous archaeological sites were refreshingly free of visitors.

This photo of the ancient city of Palmyra, a UNESCO World Heritage site, was taken in September 2005. I was visiting Syria on a work assignment and stayed at the rundown but characteristic Zenobia Cham Palace Hotel. One of the grand old hotels of the Middle East, the property’s proximity to the ruins was second to none (they are literally on the hotel’s doorstep) and sitting on the terrace of the bar with a sundowner looking out over the ancient city and desert beyond was a magical moment.

The scene in this photo is incredibly peaceful and hopefully one day again I’ll be able to return to Syria and take another shot just like it?

Palmyra 31

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