Hatra (Arabic: الحضر al-Ḥaḍr) is an ancient city in the Ninawa Governorate and al-Jazira region of Iraq. It is known as al-Hadr, a name which appears once in ancient inscriptions, and it was in the ancient Persian province of Khvarvaran. The city lies 290 km (180 mi) northwest of Baghdad and 110 km (68 mi) southwest of Mosul.
Hatra was probably built in the 3rd or 2nd century BC by the Seleucid Empire. After its capture by the Parthian Empire it flourished during the 1st and 2nd centuries AD
as a religious and trading centre. Later on, the city became the capital of possibly the first Arab Kingdom in the chain of Arab cities running from Hatra, in the northeast, via Palmyra, Baalbek and
Petra, in the southwest. The region controlled from Hatra was the Kingdom of Araba, a semi-autonomous buffer kingdom on the western limits of the Parthian Empire, governed by Arabian princes.
Hatra became an important fortified frontier city and withstood repeated attacks by the Roman Empire, and played an important role in the Second Parthian War. It repulsed the sieges of both Trajan (116/117) and Septimius Severus (198/199). Hatra defeated the Iranians at the battle of Shahrazoor in 238, but fell to the Iranian Sassanid Empire of Shapur I in 241 and was destroyed. The traditional stories of the fall of Hatra tell of an-Nadira, daughter of the King of Araba, who betrayed the city into the hands of Shapur. The story tells of how Shapur killed the king and married an-Nadira, but later had her killed also.
Hatra is the best preserved and most informative example of a Parthian city. It is encircled by inner and outer walls nearly 4 miles (6.4 km) in circumference and supported by more than 160 towers. A temenos (τέμενος) surrounds the principal sacred buildings in the city’s centre. The temples cover some 1.2 hectares and are dominated by the Great Temple, an enormous structure with vaults and columns that once rose to 30 metres. The city was famed for its fusion of Greek, Mesopotamian, Canaanite, Aramean and Arabian pantheons, known in Aramaic as Beiṯ Ĕlāhā ("House of God"). The city had temples to Nergal (Assyrian-Babylonian and Akkadian), Hermes (Greek), Atargatis (Syro-Aramaean), Allat and Shamiyyah (Arabian) and Shamash (the Mesopotamian sun god). Other deities mentioned in the Hatran Aramaic inscriptions is the Aramaean Ba'al Shamayn, and the female deity known as Ashurbel, which latter is perhaps the assimilation of the two deities the Assyrian god Ashur and the Babylonian Bel, despite their being individually masculine.