The Great Colonnade at Apamea – The main avenue of the ancient city in Qalaat Al Madiq

The monumental colonnade was built in the second century CE. The avenue, which runs for nearly 2 kilometers, made up the city’s north-south axis. The colonnade is among the longest and most famous in the Roman world.

The original Hellenistic colonnade was devastated, along with the rest of Apamea, in the 115 earthquake. Reconstruction started immediately under the Romans, and over the course of the second century the city was completely rebuilt, starting with the Great Colonnade.

Overview of the colonnade / Photo: Bernard Gagnon, image source

The street within the colonnade was about 21 meters wide and paved with large polygonal limestone blocks. The columns were 9 meters high and 0.9 meters in diameter. The columns display two main designs: a plain one, and the distinctive spiral-flutes.

Under the Byzantine Emperor, Justinian I, several parts of the colonnade were restored. The street was narrowed to 12 meters by adding a sidewalk on either side. The new pavement also covered a completely overhauled drainage system. Justinian’s changes included erecting a monumental tetrastylon made up of four 9 meters.

The colonnade avenue of Apamea destroyed by the Sasanians in the 6th century, the city would be rebuilt in part after the Muslim conquest of Syria in 638. Its definitive end would come because of another earthquake, in 1152.

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