"Damascus - دمشق" Top 5 Page for this destination Damascus by MM212
Damascus Travel Guide: 825 reviews and 2,203 photos
SAVE OLD DAMASCUS!
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:Great architecture, fascinating history, hospitable people, delicious food
- Cons:Pollution, traffic, etc.
- In a nutshell:Once is not enough!
This red-tiled, very Mediterranean-style edifice was built around 1900 by the Ottoman government as the Court of... more travel advice
This fairly well-preserved Roman Gate stands unnoticed by most passers-by in this busy part of the Souks of Damascus.... more travel advice
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