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Vestiges of Palmyra, jewels of ancient times

EN - Monday, 19 November 2018

Sixteen French volunteers from SOS Chrétiens d’Orient had the privilege to visit last Thursday the city of Palmyra, martyred by two successive occupations of the Islamic state organization. They were among the first foreign visitors of this martyred city, the cradle of humanity and crossroads of civilizations. The mark ISIS is visible everywhere; at the turn of a street in a ghost town, a burnt church testifies. The old museum has changed little since the departure of terrorists, as testified by the destroyed statues, whose faces were systematically broken with a chisel. The noise on the steps of the broken glass resonates in this building which lies gutted today, once it had been received visitors from all over the world. "The tomb of Artaban is severed at the level of the heads, as if they wanted to decapitate the statues", testifies Marie-Émilie.

Invited by the guards, we have the unique chance to climb up to the top of the walls of the old temple and to contemplate, from these heights, the immensity of the ancient city. The sun blushes, the stone fretted with age and mistreated by destructive ideology, but still it is standing, it seems to hold only by miracle and by the greenery of the palm grove. "I had the chance to touch these gigantic columns over 2000 years old. This red and white stone, weathered by the passing of time, is simply extraordinary", reveals Basile.

The long colonnade in front of the theatre gives the impression of keeping its main features. A volunteer wonders, "I'm trying to imagine what this place might have looked like. The number of people who wandered here between the stones, the cries of merchants, the discreet steps of women and the slow approach of pagan priests. What ideology other than the diabolical would want to destroy such splendour? It's very shocking to see all the inscriptions made by terrorists. It puts you in front of reality, so close in time".

When you visit the theatre, emotion prevails over wonder. "We want to recite Rostand or Corneille! The performances in a packed this theater must have been fantastic!" exclaims Paul-Louis. Whereas centuries ago plays were performed here, today’s ‘performance’ is a tragedy acted out by the hands of men in black. At this precise place were slaughtered and executed dozens of hostages. Isaure gives her emotion: "It hits me hard! I'm happy to be here, but also very sad to see this destruction and to know that this is the place where they killed so many people ". Hit both by more than two thousand years of history and by this humiliation, volunteers gather, whisper a prayer and sing of hope. The hope of life, which, despite everything, continues in Palmyra. The hope of seeing this site once again radiate worldwide.

The hope of renaissance for this city. That same day, the inhabitants of Palmyre officially learned that they could return permanently to their liberated city