Apamea 400
Apamea, Syria
Photo by: upyernoz , Creative Commons

Apamea, formerly known as Pharmake, is one of the most beautiful ancient cities in the world. It was built on the Orontes River’s right bank in 300 BC by Seleucus Nicator, the first Seleucid king in Syria, and was named after his wife Apame. Under Seleucus Nicator’s reign, Apamea flourished and became home to half a million residents. In 64 BC, the city became part of Pompey’s Roman Empire, and it was during that time that many of the structures that can be seen today were built. Because Apamea was an Eastern crossroads, the city was visited by many dignitaries, like Septimus Severus, Emperor Caracalla, and Cleopatra.

The residents of the ancient city demonstrated religious tolerance as during the Jewish Revolt in the 1st century AD, they refused to let the Jews who lived in the city be captured or murdered. During the Christian Era, the city became a center of theology and philosophy, particularly Monophysitism. As a center of Monophysitism, Apamea welcomed famous residents, such as Archigenes, Aristarchus, Theodoret, Posidonius, Evagrius Scholasticus, and Numenius of Apamea. In the 6th century, the final touches to the city were done by the Byzantines. However, Apamea started to decline in the 7th century when it fell under Islamic conquest and was devastated by an earthquake in the 12th century. Fortunately for present-day visitors, there is still much to see in the ruined city. Apamea is most famous for the Cardo Maximus, the main thoroughfare that is a mile-long colonnade made up of columns with twisted fluting. Visitors can also check out the ruins of Roman and Byzantine residences and a classical theater as well as a museum that is housed in a Turkish caravanserai dating back to the 16th century. The museum features mosaics collected around Apamea, and one of the most remarkable mosaics depicts Socrates and the Sages. Apart from mosaics, the museum also has over ten thousand cuneiform clay tablets, several funerary stelae, and a sarcophagus with Latin inscriptions.

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