"Damascus - دمشق" Top 5 Page for this destination Damascus by MM212

Damascus Travel Guide: 826 reviews and 2,207 photos



Damascus, Dimashq, or el-Sham - one of the earliest human settlements on Earth - developed over several millennia into one of history's greatest cities. As the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, a title also claimed by Aleppo and sometimes Byblos, Damascus has outlasted the many empires which invaded it. Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Persians, Arabs, Mongols, Turks and countless others have shaped the city in one way or another. The result is a Damascus with multiple layers of civilisation built over each other and often still visible to this day. Within each conquering empire, Damascus often played a central role economically and politically, as well as religiously. The city's geographic situation at the foothills of the Anti-Lebanon Mountain range and next to al-Ghouta oasis made Damascus highly strategic. While this oasis (which was once equated with Paradise) allowed the city to flourish since ancient times, it was the convergence of southern caravan routes that provided Damascus with extreme wealth and importance throughout history. Dimashq, as it is officially known in Arabic, is traditionally referred to as el-Sham, the Arabic name for the whole of Greater Syria, thus highlighting its importance to the region.

Today, Damascus is sadly a large metropolis suffering from the ailments of any fast growing developing world city. Much of the unique old city and its rich architectural heritage has suffered as a result, yet the new wave of architectural conservation is quite encouraging. The old city, with its labyrinthine alleys, is most intriguing and boasts a tremendous number of beautiful historic buildings to visit and large souks (bazaars) to discover. By far, the most notable architectural marvel is the Omayyad Mosque, itself worthy of multiple visits. Thus, several days could be spent touring Damascus and its souks alone, though visitors often dedicate only two to three days to the city and then travel to other equally amazing destinations around Syria.

After three visits to Syria, during which I spent more time in Damascus than elsewhere, I have grown to understand and appreciate the city tremendously. There is so much to discover within the old city walls, and far beyond. Despite the time I've spent in this wonderful city, I feel I have only scratched the surface and know well much lies beneath. I hope to return again to discover more. The tips on this page offer a more detailed perspective on this unique city.

Syria itinerary in Dec 2006:

Damascus - Maaloula - Krak des Chevaliers - Homs - Palmyra/Tadmur - Hama - Apamea - Aleppo - Al Barah/Serjilla - Damascus

Syria & Lebanon itinerary in Mar 2008:

Damascus - Hama - Apamea - Aleppo - Saint Simeon - Mushabbak Church - Hama - Homs - Damascus - Beqaa Valley & Beirut

Lebanon & Syria itinerary in Dec 2009/Jan 2010:

Beirut - Liban Nord - Tripoli - Byblos - Beqaa Valley - Aanjar - Damascus - Baalbek - Mont Liban - Tyre - Sidon

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Great architecture, fascinating history, hospitable people, delicious food
  • Cons:Pollution, traffic, etc.
  • In a nutshell:Once is not enough!
  • Last visit to Damascus: Dec 2009
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (110)

Comments (14)

  • uglyscot's Profile Photo
    Jul 31, 2010 at 5:18 AM

    Should I be sad or glad I didn't see this page before going to Syria In June. I'd spent one night on an earlier visit and hated Damascus. This time I spent my first and last nights, and changed my opinion. Had I'd seen it we would never have left...

  • TheWanderingCamel's Profile Photo
    May 20, 2010 at 8:39 AM

    Momo - revisiting your pages, new and updated has been a real pleasure. Too long sice I was in Damascus - MrL goes rewgularly so I get my fix second-hand. One day - soon, insha'allah! Had dinner with Ross Burns recently - most interesting, Cheers - leyle

  • Apr 27, 2010 at 10:39 PM

    I love Leila's Restaurant. A selection of mezze dishes and drinks cost us around five Aus dollars each. Their 'Eggplant Kibbee' was one of the best dishes I have ever tasted. My only regret of Damascus was not going back to Leila's to ask for the recipe!

  • BruceDunning's Profile Photo
    Mar 4, 2010 at 3:23 PM

    The setting and the long history are wonderful and your discussing this was very well presented. The pictures enhance the wonders of this very old city. Great work.

  • wilocrek's Profile Photo
    Aug 24, 2009 at 5:36 PM

    Excellent page...you are a very good photographer. I missed Damascus on my most recent trip through the Middle East and now I'm sorry I did!

  • Luchonda's Profile Photo
    Apr 26, 2008 at 7:13 AM

    Perfect picture of the Al-Aqsab mosque. Great tips and info - thx for sharing, greetz

  • triplehelix's Profile Photo
    Apr 22, 2008 at 3:22 PM

    i didn't spend enough time here! i did the rest of the country quite well but not the capital city. if i ever go back, i'll spend a longer time there.

  • call_me_rhia's Profile Photo
    Apr 1, 2008 at 1:57 AM

    i had missed your tip about Dar Al-Yasmin, i want to stay there if/when i return to damascus. and i will check out some of your restaurants.... you are now officially my restaurant guru.

  • PierreZA's Profile Photo
    Sep 10, 2007 at 11:49 PM

    Damascus high on my wish-list, great page, thank you! Pierre

  • Bavavia's Profile Photo
    Jun 17, 2007 at 10:08 AM

    Great Damascus tips with lots of nice pictures and historical information on the sights.


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