7 km south of Tartous; Amrit was a Phoenician religious center, heavily influenced in its architectural style by the Achaemenid Persians. It is the only extant site in Syria whose remains, though fragmentary, convey this mixture of civilizations, reflecting the ability of the Phoenicians to absorb and syncretise outside influences. It was also the continental port for the Phoenician settlement on Arwad, the island 2.5 km to the west.
The earliest constructions of the site date to the end of the third millennium BC. It was probably founded by people from Arwad and it was functioned as a religious center. Many of the buildings date from the period of Persian dominance after Cyrus’ conquest of Babylon in 539 BC. The most significant monument, the temple compound dedicated to the gods Melqart and Echmoun, was built at the end of the sixth century BC with elements freely borrowed from Mesopotamian and Egyptian architecture. It was still functioning as a temple when Alexander the Great paused here in 330 BC. It is thought that the statuary of the temple was thrown to the sacred lake earlier (mid 4th century) during the general breakdown of Persian control in the area. By the Roman period, Amrit had been abandoned and the port of Antaradus (Tartous) to the north offered better access to larger ships.
It was dedicated to the god Melqart with a secondary Egyptian god of healing, Echmoun. The temple was built around an artificial lake with a small sanctuary on a platform of a living rock at the center. The rectangular pond was surrounded on three sides by a colonnaded arcade whose façade was originally topped by a continuous row of merlons. A spring was channeled towards the sacred precinct from the foot of the tell to the east, due to its healing properties. The rectangular pond was surrounded on three sides by a colonnaded arcade whose façade was originally topped by a continuous row of merlons. Two towers flanked the north edges of the east and west colonnades, reflecting a Mesopotamian inspiration. On the open platform between the towers was a high altar facing south towards the opening in the naos.
Traces of a stadium (230 * 30 m) can be found on the other side of the Amrit River which flanks the compound to the north. Constructed in the 4th century, the stadium remained in use until the following century.
The Monumental Towers:
What’s also worthy to see are the monumental towers that go back to the 4th century as well, only it was in use to the end of the 1st century. One of them (the northern) is 7 m high, cylindrical with four unfinished lion sculptures around the echoes that of the temple compound. Two burial chambers lie in a hypogeum. The Inside it were two funerary chambers.
Amrit (عمريت) was a Phoenician religious center, and in terms of the visible remains it is arguably the most impressive Phoenician site in Syria. The ruins include a temple complex and numerous tombs, though the site was also a continental port for the settlement on Arwad (ارواد) island. The architectual styles show Persian and Egyptian influence, and the Romans built a stadium here in the 4th century. Amrit (عمريت) is definitely a worthwhile excursion from Tartus (طرطوس).
The ruins are spread out over a large area, the stadium and temple complex to the north, the tombs located about one kilometer to the south. Note that this is officially a military area. While the military personnel here are familiar with tourists coming through, do be careful not to wander off into their camps and, obviously, avoid taking photos of military buildings and equipment. You might be escorted around the site and/or have your photography restricted.
Getting There: Getting to Amrit (عمريت) is slightly more complicated than it should be, given that it is only about six kilometers south of Tartus (طرطوس). Any microbus traveling from Tartus (طرطوس) to al-Hameidiyeh (الحميدية) will pass within a few hundred meters of the site, but the ruins are not visible from the road and there are no signs. Look for the two fairly obvious radio towers on the right (west) side of the road about six kilometers outside of Tartus (طرطوس). The temple and stadium are immediately south of these towers. Ask the driver to stop once you’re just beyond the towers, and look for a path to the west. You’ll come upon the stadium after a few hundred meters, the temple another couple hundred meters to the southwest. Two tower tombs are about one kilometer south of the temple, a 15 minute walk, and another is a couple hundred meters on.
Alternatively, the coastal road the leads south out of Tartus (طرطوس) also passes by the western side of Amrit (عمريت). While no public transportation travels this road, it is a pleasant 1 and 1/2 hour walk along the coast to reach the site, much of which can be walked along the beach.