Bosra, Syria.

Ancient Theatre of Dreams.

In the south-east of Syria, the ancient Roman city of Bosra was briefly a Nabatean capital before becoming the prosperous and powerful capital of the Roman province of Syria.

Their black basalt usage, which is found throughout the area known as the Horan region of Syria, distinguishes the masonry of the buildings and ruins.

Several delightful Roman ruins are found within the old city, including the monumental ancient Roman theatre which is one of the largest and best preserved in the Mediterranean. The famous theatre was built in the second century AD during the reign of Roman Emperor Trajan who was emperor from 98 to 117 AD.

North-south cardo- Bosra. Syria.
Bosra. Syria. View along the north-south cardo with its cobblestone surface and parallel row of columns lining the ancient street.

The colossal scaenae frons or stage backdrop of the theatre was three stories high and adorned with ornate fine Corinthian columns, statues, and sculptured friezes. Unfortunately, only the lower level survives today. Its cavea, which is virtually intact, comprises 37 tiers of seating that could accommodate an audience of 15,000 spectators.

The Ancient city of Bosra is a UNESCO World Heritage listed site. I have also included a few images of the Roman theatre found in the ancient city of Philippopolis- Modern Shahba. The ancient theatre is small, however it is one of the best preserved in Syria. Shahba is about 90 kilometres southeast of Damascus.

Click to view the complete Bosra image gallery.

All images, text and content are copyright Steven Sklifas.

Bulla Regia, Tunisia.

Subterranean Roman City.

Bulla Regia is a notable archaeological site in a highly fertile region of northwestern Tunisia. It is officially recognized as Colonia Aelia Hadriana Augusta Bulla Regia.

The ancient city was under the influence of the North African powerhouse Carthage around the 3rd century BC. With the collapse of Carthage, the Romans eventually obtained absolute authority of the city in the 1st century BC.

Prosperity for the city was the greatest between the 1st and 3rd centuries as it became a major producer and supplier of wheat, grains, grapes and olives to the Roman Empire. 

Bulla Regia and other Roman towns in the region have been referred to as the breadbasket or granary of Rome.

Roman ruins. Bulla Regia. Tunisia.
Bulla Regia. Tunisia. View of remains of buildings, including the House of the Fishing at northern end of the archaeological site.

Abandoned after a catastrophic earthquake, the city was buried by drifting sands and lost to the world for many centuries.

A French company constructing a railway through the region accidentally rediscovered the city it in the late 1800s. Unfortunately, some of the well-preserved buildings, including the monumental gateway to the city, were recklessly destroyed.

Thankfully, the site is home to various fine remnants of its history, including a well preserved Roman theatre. However, the site is famed for its unique and distinctive underground villas that distinguish it from all other Roman towns.

The subterranean villas are adorned with magnificent exquisite mosaics in situ built by the town’s wealthy Romans residents in the second and third centuries AD. The Villas provided an escape from the baking Tunisian summer heat and provided warmth in the Winter.

Click to view the complete Bulla Regia image gallery.

All images, text and content are copyright Steven Sklifas.

Pompeii Italy.

Providing a breathtaking illusion of antiquity, the ancient city of Pompeii is near the bay of Naples in the southern Italian region of Campania and is still and forever shadowed by its tormentor, Mount Vesuvius.

According to myth, the Greek hero Herakles bestowed upon Pompeii its name whilst passing through Italy after defeating the three-headed monster giant Geryon. The name Pompeii derives from the word Pompe/Pompa, the Ancient Greek word for the procession in honour of Herakles’s triumph over the giants as one of his twelve labours.

The Campanian Oscan, a local italic population, established Pompeii on the end of ancient lava flow sometime around the 8th century BC. It was only a small site. Pompeii’s foundation, as we know of today, is attributed to the ancient Greeks, who took full control of the region and transformed Pompeii (and nearby city of Herculaneum) into an important trading centre and port.

The city developed and grew especially under the powerful influence of the nearby ancient Greek coastal colonies of Cumae and Neapolis (Naples). The beginnings of the city planning and buildings were established during this period. 

The Greek political influence diminished when Pompeii fell under the control of the Etruscans and then the Samnites and in 290 BC the city became a subject ally of Rome. However, Greek (Hellenistic) culture continued to be the leading influence, especially in art, architecture, religion and way of life.

Pompeii became a Roman colony in 80 BC and by now was the largest trading centre in the southern portion of the coast.

The city was bursting with wealth and was transformed with new public buildings and monuments. Many large villas with mosaic floors, Greek art and garden courtyards were built for its wealthy citizens.

The city became a favourite resort of the opulent Romans and model place for families to settle.

It all sounded too good to be true when In AD 62, Mount Vesuvius, now stirring, gave warning of its destructive power when Pompeii was devastated by a major earthquake. However, warning signs were mostly ignored and Pompeii, now with a booming population of about 20,000 inhabitants, choose to rise above the ruins and continued to grow and prosper whilst rebuilding and restoring its damaged buildings and infrastructure. 

The reconstruction of the city was in full swing when the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius occurred in AD 79 (August 24, according to some historians). 

In just over two days, Pompeii was buried under volcanic debris (lapilli, ash and red-hot scoria) between 5  to 7 metres deep. At least 2000 people who choose to stay in Pompeii and see it out were trapped and died. Poisonous gases killed some others who escaped the city whilst trying to reach safe ground.

Pompeii was lost to the world for around 1500 years, when rediscovered accidentally around 1600. Small-scale excavations started around 1748 and then finally, in 1860, large-scale scientific and systematic excavations organised by the Italian government were underway. Today, around three-fifths of Pompeii have been excavated.

Pompeii is a vast site and even at the peak of the summer tourist season, I could capture images with no people in the vicinity. I highly recommended you visit it if you get the chance. Ideally, you will set aside a full day for it. Pompeii is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The complete Pompeii image gallery.

All Images, Text and Content Are Copyright Steven Sklifas.