Situated some 90 kilometres south-east of Damascus, it is well-known for
its plentiful vineyards. It stands 1100 metres above sea-level, and was
known by the name of Suwada (little black town) in the Nabatean period,
because it was built with black volcanic stone. The Romans, in the 3rd
century, considered it one of the most important towns in the Province of
Arabia and called it Dionysus.
Ruins of ancient civilizations are numerous but widely scattered; some
of the most notable of these, along with a collection of exquisite mosaics
discovered in 1962, are now housed in the Sweida Museum. One part of this
mosaic collection represents Artemis, goddess of chastity and the hunt,
surrounded by her nymphs when she is surprised by a hunter while bathing.
This fine roman work dates back to the sixth century. Another scene portrays
the birth of Venus and the wedding of Thetis. Statues carved in hard basalt
show signs of a mixture of Nabatean, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Arab
There are also the ruins of a 3rd century Roman temple surrounded by a
colonnade of Corinthian columns.
Some 38 kilometres south of Sweida and 20 km east
of Bosra. Here you find:
- Remains of a citadel built by the Nabateans on a volcanic hill; It was
renovated by the Ayoubites and Mamluks who added watch-towers to the
- The minaret of an Ayoubite mosque in the town square.
- An Ayoubite tomb with stones inscribed with Arabic lettering.
7 kilometres east of Sweida, it 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 chief city. This position
of importance explains the abundance and richness of its ruins which are
among the most interesting in the whole Jabal al-Arab region.
The location of Qanawat lends beauty to its remains; the village lies
stretched along the crest of a hill and extends down the side of a valley
full of trees, orchards, meadows and fields.
Of greatest interest to the visitor is a cluster of columns which were
part of a 2nd century temple dedicated to the sun god Helios. Another temple
of the same period dedicated to Zeus was built with decorated basalt. Of
this temple there are only six columns left. On the right side of the valley
there are the remains of an Odeon.