Ancient Damascus, the capital city of Syria carries
the title as having been one of the oldest continuously
inhabited cities in the world. Showing a long legacy of
cultural heritage, ancient Syria has been host to Egyptian,
Greek, Roman and Ottoman empires.
Ancient Syria is packed with archaeological sites and Islamic culture. Damascus Syria epitomizes this proud history in its very appearance and contains sites from medieval alleyways to opulent palace gardens. Syria’s largest city and capital is situated in the Ghouta Oasis close to the Barada River which has enabled the city prosper in an otherwise inhospitable barren landscape.
A Syria trip will no doubt feature a day or two in ancient
Damascus and it is a great starting point for exploring
the wider country. It’s accessibility to neighboring
countries packed with other interesting sights in Turkey,
Lebanon and Jordon even allows you the opportunity to
dip over and explore more of the region. Damascus offers
visitors some top Syria sightseeing
and plenty of good opportunities to delve into Middle
Eastern culture. The Old City quarter contains miles of
winding labyrinthine like alleys and epitomizes the cities
charm. The city boats a number of exotic markets where
you can sample uniquely Syrian food and buy your olive
soap and handicrafts. The city’s main market situated
among bustling cobbled streets is Souq al-Hamadiyyeh,
where you can practice your haggling technique amid the
strong aromas emitting from spice and olive stalls. In
the evening the bustling market, experience usually makes
way for lively jazz bars. Downtown Damascus Syria is packed
with busy cafes and French and Ottoman architecture, while
the city quarter of Al Dar is a great place to eat at
busy local restaurants.
Travel to Damascus Syria and you will be confronted by a symbol of ancient Syria in the equally ancient and spiritually important Umayyad Mosque. This magnificent structure set around an old courtyard features golden mosaics and three tall minarets. Built in 705 AD, it was constructed on the site of a Roman temple. Most interestingly, especially for those history buffs, the Umayyad Mosque houses the resting place of perhaps the most famous Arab leader ever, Saladin. A simple red domed Mausoleum built in 1193 at the end of pleasant garden houses one of history’s most revered figures. Sitting at the southern end of the Umayyad Mosque is the splendid Azem Palace with its inviting courtyards with colorful flowers and palatial fountains. Next to Saladin’s tomb stands a school believed to have been built in the 12th century, which is decorated with intricate inscriptions and lettering. The school now houses an Arabic calligraphy museum.
Another great sightseeing option for tourists traveling
to ancient Damascus is the church of St Paul. Built to
commemorate St. Paul, the church stands at the site of
his escape from an attempted murder. St Paul who once
persecuted Christians, found faith and became a staunch
advocate of Christianity, much to the anger of his Jewish
peers who soon decided to kill him. Another striking feature
of Damascus travel is the 11th century citadel built to
repel crusader invaders. Visitors should also pay attention
to the National museum documenting the best of ancient
Syria with displays of classical antiquities, Islamic
and contemporary art.
Damascus travel during the holy festival of Ramadan, which takes place during September/October, should be treated with the utmost sensitivity. The festival sees the Muslim populous fasting for a whole month from sunrise to sunset in order to conform to the fourth pillar of Islam. The final three days of Eid-al-Fitr ends in a feast and lively party.
Damascus travel is well served by two international
airports. One in ancient Damascus, the second in Aleppo.
Both have regular connections to Europe,
Africa, Asia and the rest of the
Middle East. Connections to Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey are well served and often a visit to one of Syria’s
neighbors can be incorporated with an organized Damascus
travel tour. There is a good road network where buses,
minibuses and coaches offer a cheap and frequent way of
exploring sites out of Damascus. There is also a good
train network connecting regional towns.