Qal'a Busra
Busra, Syria
The citadel of Busra (Bosra) is an Islamic fortification enclosing the town's ancient Roman theater. The Islamic monument included fortification walls, towers, and a palatial residence. The bulk of the citadel dates to the reigns of the Seljuk and Ayyubid sultans eleventh-thirteenth/fifth-seventh centuries AH, with repairs under the Mamluks and Ottomans.

The citadel consists of an enclosure wall forming a horseshoe shape around the theater. Eight multi-story rectangular towers project from the walls, which include rooms designed for audience halls. The history of construction is complex but well documented with epigraphic evidence.1 According to an inscription in situ, the first construction of fortifications took place in 1088/481 AH at the order of Seljuk general Shams al-Dawla Kumushtekin when the extant towers flanking the theater's stage were modified. With mounting pressures in the region from Crusader attacks, the Burid ruler of Damascus 'Abd al-Dawla Abaq ordered a new tower built in 1147-48/542 AH. At the beginning of the thirteenth/seventh century AH, the Ayyubid sultans added substantially to the fortifications, constructing the citadel's outer wall and towers, most at the command of Abu Bakr al-Adil between 1202-1203/599 AH 1218/615 AH. Over the next decades, the interior of the citadel was elaborated with a mosque, cistern, and other features, and various modifications were made to the fortifications. The site was damaged during the Mongol occupation of Bosra but repaired ca. 1260/658 AH under orders of Mamluk sultan al-Malik al-Zahir Baybars.


1. Enno Littman, Arabic Inscriptions, Syria: Publications of the Princeton University Archaeological Expedition to Syria in 1904-5 and 1909, Division IV, Section D (Princeton: 1949), 22-59.


Aalund, Flemming, Michael Meinecke, and Riyadh Sulaiman al-Muqdad. Islamic Bosra: A Brief Guide, 17-24. Damascus: German Archaeological Institute, 1990.
Busra, Syria
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Site Contains
theater first modified in 1088/481 AH
tower on cavea facade built in 1147-1148/542 AH
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Variant Names
قلعة بصرة
Qal'a Busra
Building Usages