The Roman amphitheatre
|Governorate||As Suwayda Governorate|
|Population (2004 census1)|
|Time zone||EET (UTC+2)|
|• Summer (DST)||+3 (UTC)|
The population of the city is 73,641 (2004 census).
The city was founded by the Nabataeans as Suada. It became known as Dionysias (Greek: Διονύσιας) in the Hellenistic and Roman times, for Dionysus the god of wine - the city is situated in a famous ancient wine-producing region.
The name Dionysias replaced the former Nabatean name of Suada in 149 AD after the Nabataean influence decreased and then concentrated towards the south, as a result of the accelerating Hellenization of Coele-Syria at that time.
This name remained in use during the Byzantine period, when the town was under the influence of Ghassanids, Dionysias then was a Diocese as a suffragan of Bosra. It was mentioned in the Synecdemus of Hierocles. After the Arab conquests it became a titular see.2
Many archeological sites could be found in the old part of the city:
- Temple of Dionysus-Dushara: eight well-decorated columns are still standing from the temple.
- Saint Sergius Basilica: was built in the fifth century A.D. It has Byzantine architecture elements, with an abbey surrounding it. The basilica was dedicated to Saint Sergius.
- The arch of the lesser church: the church itself is ruined. An arch is still standing there known locally as Al Mashnaqa with grape motif decorations.
- The amphitheatre: was recently discovered, south of the Agora.
The city has many ancient reservoirs, towers and old Roman houses that are still inhabited by locals.
Many parts of the old city are still to be excavated like the Roman aqueduct, a conical reservoir, and a larger Roman amphitheatre.
- as-Suwayda city population
- http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05009a.htm Dionysias in the Catholic Encyclopedia.
- le Strange, 1890, p. 540
- le Strange, Guy (1890). Palestine Under the Moslems: A Description of Syria and the Holy Land from A.D. 650 to 1500. Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund.
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