Palmyra before & after: ISIS occupation has done ‘enormous damage’ (PHOTOS)

© Gustau Nacarino
Plans are underway to restore the ancient Syrian city Palmyra to its former glory after the UNESCO world heritage site was freed from the hands of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) by the Syrian army with the support of Russian airstrikes.

Palmyra, known as the “Oasis of the Syrian Desert”, was captured by IS in May of last year.

Significant damage was done to the site but there is hope of restoration.

“The damage done to Palmyra architectural monuments is enormous, but it has not been razed to the ground completely. The main symbol of the city – the famous columns, they are standing, and we now have to inspect the site accurately to determine, what else is left there,” Mikhail Piotrovsky, Director of the Hermitage Museum in Russia’s Saint Petersburg said.

The 2,000-year-old Bel Temple, known as the “Pearl of Desert”, and the iconic Arch of Triumph were blown up while the Roman theater was used as a place for public executions.

READ MORE:‘Palmyra damage monstrous, but mendable’: Experts accept challenging task to restore ancient city

The Palmyra Museum was left devastated by IS militants, who looted and destroyed a large number of its artifacts.

Here are photos of the relic city before the IS takeover - click on each image to flip and see recent photographs of the city after the destruction.