The ancient city of Palmyra, which was almost destroyed by ISIS jihadis, could re-open to tourists as early as next year.

Extensive work has been underway to restore the site, which used to be one of the most visited tourist attractions in the Middle East, MailOnline Travel reports.

Authorities in Syria say they hope that visitors will be able to marvel at the wonders of the ancient monuments from summer 2019.

The ancient city of Palmyra was almost destroyed by ISIS jihadis. Photo / Getty Images
The ancient city of Palmyra was almost destroyed by ISIS jihadis. Photo / Getty Images

Palmyra, in the province of Homs, was an important caravan city of the Roman Empire, linking it to India, China, and Persia and was a Unesco world heritage site.

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Global concern for Palmyra's magnificent ancient ruins spiked in September 2015, when satellite images confirmed that ISIS - which took control of the city - had demolished the famed Temple of Bel as part of its campaign to destroy pre-Islamic monuments it considers idolatrous.

The Syrian government then took back control of the site but it fell to ISIS one again in December 2016. Its members then caused even more destruction.

By March 2017, Palmyra was recaptured by Syrian government forces and Russian scientists from the Pushkin Museum in Moscow began trying to reconstruct some of the ancient structures.

The provincial governor of Homs, Talal Barazi, told Sputnik News: "The authorities now have a project to repair all the damage caused to Palmyra's Old City.

Ruins of the Monumental Arch destroyed by ISIS militants in Palmyra. Photo / Getty Images
Ruins of the Monumental Arch destroyed by ISIS militants in Palmyra. Photo / Getty Images

"There are also good offers from the world powers to restore the artifacts and historical value of Palmyra. I suppose that Palmyra will be completely ready for receiving tourists by summer 2019."

News of the re-opening comes after an antiquities museum in Syria's rebel-held province of Idlib said to house one of the world's oldest dictionaries reopened earlier this month after being shut for five years.

Dozens of visitors trickled into the museum in Idlib city to see what an official said represented just a fraction of the building's collection.

Ayman al-Nabu, head of antiquities for the city, which is controlled by an alliance of rebels and jihadists, said the museum had been damaged by air strikes and looting during Syria's conflict - now nearly seven years old.

The museum is said to house a collection of clay tablets dating back to 2400-2300 BC, which bear witness to the invention of the first alphabet.

PALMYRA: SYRIA'S 'BRIDE OF THE DESERT'

Palmyra, situated about 200 kilometres northeast of Damascus, is known by Syrians as the "Bride of the Desert".

It was an important caravan city of the Roman Empire, linking it to India, China and Persia.

Before the outbreak of Syria's conflict in March 2011, the Unesco site was one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Middle East drawing 105,000 visitors a year.

The ancient Palmyra theater before the devastating civil war began. Photo / Getty Images
The ancient Palmyra theater before the devastating civil war began. Photo / Getty Images

The whole of Palmyra, including the four cemeteries outside the walls of the ancient city, has been listed as a world heritage site by Unesco since 1980.

Global concern for Palmyra's magnificent ancient ruins spiked in September 2015, when satellite images confirmed that ISIS had demolished the famed Temple of Bel as part of its campaign to destroy pre-Islamic monuments it considers idolatrous.

Unesco described the temple as one of the best preserved and most important religious edifices of the first century in the Middle East.