Bosra was mentioned in Egyptian records as early as 1300 BC, but it was not until the Nabataean kingdom relocated here from Petra, and Rome crowned it capital of the Province of Arabia, that its importance was secured. The fertile land surrounding the city, and the 1st-century construction of a road linking it with Damascus in the north and Amman in the south, ensured Bosra would become an important centre of trade and a key stop on caravan and pilgrimage routes throughout the Middle Ages.
During the Byzantine period, Bosra became a bishopric then archbishopric, and during the 6th century the largest cathedral in the region was built here, becoming one of the greatest in the East. Before the town’s fall to the Muslims in 634, the young Prophet Mohammed, passing through with his merchant uncle’s caravans, encountered a wise priest named Bahira who, during theological discussions with Mohammed, revealed to him his future vocation as the Prophet.
An impressive example of Arab military architecture, the citadel was built in the 11th century and strengthened further by Saladin in the 12th century, enabling it to withstand both Crusader and Mongol attacks.
Today Bosra’s friendly inhabitants live among the ruins of the old town.