Colourful lights revive Syria’s ancient city Palmyra

Damascus, May 8 (IANS) Colourful lights have started returning to the Roman amphitheatre in Syria’s Palmyra so that audience can listen to the fine art of opera.

It’s the same theatre where the black-masked Islamic State (IS) militants used to spell the blood of Syrian soldiers and instil horror in the hearts of people and prepare them for more brutality, reports Xinhua news agency.

Syria’s Pearl of the Desert — that is how people describe and call Palmyra, a site of 2,000-year-old ruins. The city earned this name, especially when its lit, making it a pearl glowing in the Syrian desert.

When the IS stormed the city in May 2015, fans and lovers of Palmyra sank into despair and their pain grew bigger with every news about a new IS bombing of city’s priceless ancient monuments.

But when the Syrian army, backed by the Russian forces, recaptured the city and dislodged IS in March, hopes soared high that the oasis city will return to be a mesmerizing attraction.

The amphitheatre was revived when the Russian Mariinsky orchestra played on Thursday for the first time since the IS was defeated.

Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke via a video from Moscow to the audience, greeting the extra and telling them that “the event is … a sign of memory, hope and a sense of gratitude”.

On Friday, the Syrian presidential palace organised a similar event performed by several Syrian orchestras.

It was held under the auspices of President Bashar al-Assad, and was a tribute to the Syrian martyrs who are commemorated on the 6th of May every year.

The Syrian National Symphony, the National Ensemble for Arabic Music, Mari Orchestra and al-Farah Choir or the Joy Choir have again revived the amphitheatre of Palmyra with pieces glorifying the love of the homeland and stirring nostalgic feelings in Palmyra.

Hatem Mhanna, one among the audience, told Xinhua that he was happy watching life and music being restored to the city.

“The musical instruments have replaced the killing machines of the IS, these colors have replaced their black flag and hearts,” he said.

Siham Daboseh, a woman in her 60s, said she knows Palmyra like the palm of her hand.

“I am in love with this place and I know every inch of it. I am sad for the destruction in some areas, but hopeful when I see that the rest of the city is intact,” she said.

During its 10-month rule of the city, the IS had destroyed the Temple of Bel, which was dedicated to the Mesopotamian god Bel, who was worshipped at Palmyra in triad with the lunar god Aglibol and the sun god Yarhibol.

Aside from Bal, another temple in Palmyra, Baalshamin, was totally destroyed.

On May 2015, IS militants partially destroyed the Lion of al-Lat and other statues. They also destroyed three of the best preserved tower tombs including the Tower of Elahbel.

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