As Suwayda , Suwaida or Sweida is Located 128 Km southeast
of Damascus in southwestern
Syria, at the eastern margin of
the Hawran (or Houran) region in the foothills of Al-Duruz
Mountains, close to the border with Jordan. Al-Suwayda' is now a
local agricultural market centre. It has ruins of a 3rd-century
Roman temple and a 5th-century
It is the capital of Muhafazat as Suwayda, one of Syria's 14
governorates, bordering Jordan in the South and the governorates
of Daraa in the West and Rif Dimashq in
the North and East.
The inhabitants of the town are mainly Druze with a prominent
Greek orthodox minority; it is also the seat of a Greek Orthodox
bishop. The population of the town was estimated in 2002 to be
The town was founded by the Nabataeans as Suada
in the 1st century BC, afterwards it was called
Dionysias during Hellenistic and Roman times, for Dionysus the
god of wine - the town is situated in a famous ancient
Main attractions and historical sites
As Suwayda has some archeological excavations of the
ancient Nabataean, Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine times, most
notably the town’s Hellenistic agora, and the remnants of a
big Byzantine church from the 6th century most probably the
Church of Saint Sergius. the town has also many Roman time
old houses that are still inhabited by locals, a conical pond, and
a Roman amphitheatre still to be uncovered
Suweida museum has quite a large collection of interesting
mosaics that resemble the ones found in the Shahba museum. Themes
include Artemis taking a bath, and a banquet scene. There is also
a fine collection of statues sculpted in the black basalt,
although not as elegant as marble statues they deserve just as
Shahba (Philippopolis) , a town at As Suwayda Governorate,
was tthe birthplace of the Syrian Emperor Philip, who ruled the
Roman Empire between 244 and 249 A.D., he dedicated himself to
building the city up to a metropolis. The city was renamed
Philippopolis in dedication to the emperor. The emperor is said to
have wanted to turn the city into a replica of Rome itself.
Temples, triumphal arches, baths, a theatre, and a great wall
surrounding the city were all built based on the plan of a typical
Roman city. The building of the city stopped abruptly after the
death of Philip. Shahba today contains well-preserved ruins of the
ancient Roman city. A museum located in the city exhibits some
beautiful examples of Roman mosaic art.
Salkhad a Syrian city in the As Suwayda governorate. It has
a population of 15,000 inhabitants and it is located at 1350
metres above sea level in the central Jabal el Druze highlands.
Mentioned several times in the Bible as "Salcah", as a
settlement in biblical Bashan. During the second century BC Salcah
was a flourishing Nabataean city, where the gods Dushara and Allat
were worshiped. Afterwards it was incorporated into the Roman
province of Arabia, it was one of the important citys in Hauran
during Roman and later Byzantine epochs, Salkhad is indicated in
the Madaba mosaic map of the sixth century AD.
Due to the strategic position of the city overlooking Hauran
plains to the west, the Ayyubid dynasty built a fortress in
Salkhad between 1214 - 1247 to counter a possible attack of the
Crusades into inner Hauran.
The importance of the city decreased after the Crusades, and it
was occasionally overrun by Bedouins seeking pasture in the summer
for their flocks.
A number of Greek orthodox Christians, of Ghassanid ancestry,
successively remained in the region. Salkhad and the adjacent
region were re-inhabited by Druze families from Mount Lebanon in
the late 17th , 18th ,and 19th centuries.
During Ottoman times the city enjoyed a feudal-type autonomy like
much of the Jabal el Druze area under the chieftaincy of Al-Hamdan
family and later Al-Atrash family, many battles against Ottoman
Turks took place in this region by the locals to maintain their
In the early 20th century the city was part of the 1921-1936 Druze
state under the French Mandate of Syria, the state was gradually
incorporated into Syria after the Syrian Revolution of 1925-1927
led by Sultan Al-Atrash.
The fortress of Salkhad is the most important monument
located in a hill inside the city , built between 1214-1247 by the
Ayyubid dynasty as a part of their defences against the crusades.
It is said that this fortress were built in the site of older
Roman fortifications. A hexagonal basalt minaret still standing
intact in the city’s main square. Many Roman old time houses,
still partially inhabited by locals. Nabatean, Roman and Ayyubid
Tombs with decorative motifs.
Qanawat was a city of great importance during the Roman
period. In the year 60 B.C., the Romans named it one of the
Decapolis league of commercial cities of which Damascus was the
chief city. Its importance explains the richness of its ruins,
which are among the most interesting in the whole Jabal Al-Arab
region. Here can be found two palaces built by the Romans in
approximately the second century. These basilica shaped buildings
grouped around an atrium were adopted in the fourth through the
fifth centuries by Christians. The ruined tower at the corner of
one of the buildings is most probably the remains of a late
addition to the Christian church. The tower is typical of the
embellishments added to the Churches in northern Syria. The
Christians having used much of the original classical stoneware,
the buildings are beautifully decorated.
Today in Qanawat the visitor can also see the remains of a Roman
mausoleum, a small theater with nine rows of seats, a water
fountain and a temple of Helios; a lesser version of the temples
at Palmyra and Baalbeck. On the side there is also another temple
from the second century dedicated to Zeus