< Previous | Next >

Damascus

About - City History - Gallery - Tourism Guide - Towns


The name "Damascus" is attributed by some scholars to Damascus, son of Hermes, who is said to have lived in this area and given it his name. Others attribute the name to the myth of Askos or that of Damas, who accompanied Dionysian, and offered him a skene (skin) thus the name "Damaskene". While others believe that the origin of the name came from Damakina, the wife of the god of water. Linguistically analyzed, some feel that the name "Damascus" was derived from " The Water Land".


City History

Damascus is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. It has occupied a position of importance in the fields of science, culture, politics, art, commerce, and industry from the earliest times. It has been called 'al-Fayha' (the 'Fragrant city'), al-Sham, Jollaq, and 'Pearl of the Orient'as the Emperor Julian named it. It was mentioned in the Holy Quran an as 'the many-columned city of Aram', whose like has never been built in the land.

Early references to the city, such as those in the Ebla tablets, confirm that 'Dameski' (i.e Damascus) during the third millennium B.C. was as a city of immense economic influence. Ancient Pharaonic scripts refer to it as 'Dameska'.It enjoyed great prominence during the second millennium B.C. as the center of an Aramic kingdom under the name of 'Dar-misiq' ('the irrigated house')

Damascus became the capital of the first Arab state at the time of the Omeyyads in 661 A.D.This marked the beginning of its golden epoch, and for a whole century it was the centre of the youthful Islamic Empire.This reached its peak of expansion during this period, and came to stretch from the shores of the Atlantic and the Pyrennese in the west, to the river Indus and China in the east.

Following the decline and fall of the Omeyyads, Damascus went through a period of neglect and deterioration.It suffered disaster and destruction, seeing only temporary prosperity, depending on whose domination it was subjected to.

However, when independence was achieved in 1946, the city started to regain its importance as a significant cultural and political center in the Arab world. After 1970, when president Hafez Assad came to power, Damascus witnessed a new renaissance period personified by constructing roads and bridges, setting up schools, hospitals, sport stadiums, public gardens, art galleries, international hotels and an international airport.


Tourism Guide

1- DAMASCUS MUSEUMS

  1. The National Museum of Damascus :The National Museum of Damascus is generally recognised as one of the finest of its kind in the world.Visitors can see artifacts of the great civilisations that emerged and flourished in Syria.There are thousands of statues, stamps, pieces of jewerelly, weapons, precious stones; sculpture, masks, tablets, textiles, mosaics, glass-work and earthenware, coins, and manuscripts from the ancient Syrian kingdoms of Ebla, Ugarit, Palmyra, Tel Sukas, Mari, Doura Europos, Bosra, Shahba and others.
  2. The National Museum of the Arts and popular Tradtions of Syria.
  3. The Historical Museum of Damascus in Khaled Al-Azem palace.An eighteenth-century building, which, like al-Azem Palace, is considered a fine example of old Damascene houses.It contains historical documents relating to the inhabitants of the city of Damascus.
  4. The museum of Epigraphy.
  5. The Military Museum.
  6. Damascus Museum of Agriculture.
  7. Damascus Internatinal Fair (sptember, every year).
  8. Damascus Flower Show. (May, every year).

2- DAMASCUS MARKETS

Damascus is quite famous for its popular markets:

Al-Hamidieh Souq: one of the most famous and attractive souqs in the world with its constant show of traditional arts. It begins near the Damascus Ayyyoubite Citadel and ends at the Large Gate of the Omayyad Mosque.

Follows a straight line from the west (where Bab al-Nasr used to be) to the Omayyad Mosque. It dates back to 1863, to the rule of the Ottoman Sultan Abdul-Hamid, after whom the souq was called. It is covered with high iron vaulting, so old that sun rays filter through it into the darkness of the souq.The shops here sell everything from tissues to leather-work, from sweets and ice-cream to exquisite handmade brocades, mosaic, and copper inlaid with silver.

Madhat Basha Souq: reminds one with the Biblical story of St. Paul, St. Hananya and the Straight road. The Long Souq): Founded by the governor of Damascus Midhat Pasha in 1878.It stands above the Roman 'Street Called Straight' which used to traverse the city from Bab al-Jabieh to Bab Sharqi, and runs parallel to souq al-Hamidiyeh, with numerous side-souqs separating them.

Al-Buzurieh Souq: Extends between Souq Midhat Pasha and the Omayyad Mosque and is famous for its quaint little fruit, medicinal herbs, and confectionery.

In the middle of this souq stands a bath (one of the two hundred public baths) which has been in continuous use from the twelfth century.

The Handicradts Souq: in the small Al-Takya building, contains all of Syria's most famous handicrafts: Glass-blowing, wood carving, carpet and textile weaving, articles made from Damascene silk, and hand made silver and gold jewelleries.

SOUQ AL-HARIR : Founded by Darwish Pasha in 1574.Its entrance is at the end of souq al-Hamidiyeh just outside the Omayyad Mosque.Its shops are filled with local embroidered cloths, perfume essence, and tailoring and sewing requisites.Here, too, a number of old khans have been converted into shops, best known for their cloaks, capes, mantles, shawls, and 'galabiyas'.

Al-Salihieh Souq.

3- CAFES & BATHS

Avariety of small cafes dot the city of Damascus. In Nawfara square east of Omayyad Mosque, there are many popular cafes to satisfy the tourist's need for relaxation and fun. They are famous for offering delicious and aromatic tea and coffe, soft drinks and the Nargileh (Water pipe)for smoking.

Nureddin popular bath is one of the most famous in Damascus. Many other baths are scattered in different areas ( Hammam al-Ward, Hammam Al-Malek al-Dhaher, etc..)

4- HISTORICAL & ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES

The Ayoubite Citadel of Damascus: The only fortress in Syria built on the same level as the city, it does not top a hill or a mountain like all other castles and citadels.It was erected by the Seljuks in 1078 A.D. with masonry taken from the city wall, and turned into a heavily-fortified citadel surrounded by walls, towers, a moat and trenches.Inside, they built houses, baths, mosques, and schools; it was a city within a city.At the height of Crusader raids and attacks, it was used as residence for the Sultans of Egypt and Syria such as Nureddin, Saladin, and al-Malek al-Abdel, whence they supervised military operations against the Crusaders.

The Wall & Gates of Damascus and its Ramparts: The Wall was built in the Roman era with large, tapered stones.It was oblong in shape, designed in the manner of Roman military camps, cities, and fortifications.There are seven gates in it:Bab Sharqi, Bab al-Jabieh, Bab Keissan, Bab al-Saghir, Bab Tuma, Bab al-Jeniq, and Bab al-Faradiss.The main thoroughfare traversed the city from Bab al-Jabieh to Bab Sharqi; on both sides there were Corinthian columns, and across it numerous triumphal arches.

Bab Sharqi: This was the most important Bab (gate) of the ancient Damascus and it is characterized by its beautiful architecture.

Tetrapil Archway: This Archway is midway between Bab Sharqi and Bab Jabieh, near Al-Maryamyah Church.

Ancient Damascus Palaces: Al-Azem Palace, Khaled Al-Azem House, Al-Siba'i House, Jabri House, Nizam House and Naasan Palace are all fine examples which indicate that ancient Syrians considered one's home, one's paradise. The desire to creat a personal paradise inspired them to build beautiful homes embellished with drawings, decorations, water fountains, larg yards, trees and flowers. These lovely homes are made visually more attractive by entering from narrow lanes into open, sunny, green court yards.

THE AZEM PALACE : Close to the Omayyad Mosque on the southern side, this palace was designed in 1749 for Assaad Pasha al Azem, Governor Damascus. It exactly fulfills the expectations the foreigner may have gained from romantic literature, about the Damascene "douceur de vivre". Pretty rather than grandiose, it has a wealth of polychrome stone, cascading fountains in basins of immaculate marble, and a riot of flowers and greenery - bougainvillea, roses and the scents of jasmine and the cypress trees.

It was in this ravishing setting that the Department of Antiquities decided, in 1952, to, establish the National Museum of the Arts and Popular Traditions of Syria. Two years later the Department of Antiquities opened the doors of the Azem Palace, whose collections today contain almost ten thousand items. There is even more in the store. Specialists often come to study and gain inspiration - dress designers have made extensive use of the splendid costumes here in order  to create new fashions. The display is both educational and extremely attractive; life-size dioramas are a frequent feature. Furniture. Tools, utensils - everyday items as well as more unusual ones -are used in settings in which highly realistic was figures recreate natural scenes with almost uncanny accuracy. This series of glimpses of Syria as it was, often until very recently, brings to life scenes as divergent as massaging or making a cup of coffee, a wedding ceremony or a Pasha’s reception.

In this same part of the old city (i.e. between the Great Mosque and the rue Droite - the Street called Straight) hammams and khans were built during the Ottoman period. The most noteworthy of the latter Khan al Goumrok, has in the center - instead of the usual courtyard - a hall enclosed by six great cupolas on pendentives.

In the middle of the spice souk (Al Bzourieh) is the Khan of Assaad Pasha. In 1751, the Governor of Damascus Assaad Pasha al Azem commissioned the construction work, which was completed in 1753. The surface area measures 2,500 m2. This caravansary’s most striking features are its nine cupolas which cover the whole courtyard, and its huge portal decorated with superb stalactites. When Lamartine visited it in 1863 during one of his trip to Damascus, he described it as one of the most beautiful caravansaries in the whole of the Orient.

Two thirds of the way along the rue Droite are the bays of a reconstructed Roman monumental arch. They indicate more or less the beginning of a quarter in which many Christians of various denominations still live.

Of the half-dozen churches which survive in this quarter (mainly around the rue Bab Touma, Thomas Gate), ote, who was charged to go and lay his hands upon St. Paul, sheltering in a house on the via Recta, in order that the might regain his sight. The incident is recounted in the Acts of the Apostles, and elsewhere; Ananias’s incomprehension at first submission to the Divine will… There followed the first preaching by the new apostle in the Synagogues of Damascus, his condemnation by the Jewish community here, his taking refuge in the house of a Christian right against the city wall, and his flight. One night, with the aid of disciples, he climbed through a window, was let down the wall in a basket, and escaped. He had spent three years in Damascus.

The house on the walls has been converted into a chapel, dedicated naturally, to St. Paul. Its entrance is from the south-east corner of the ramparts, some three hundred meters to the right of Bab Charqy, from the outside of the walls. In the church to the left to the entrance, there is a bas-relief depicting the descent of the basket. It is called in Arabic Kanissat (Church) Bab Kissan. Bab Sharqi (the East Gate) at the far end of the rue Droite is an imposing structure with Roman arcading. It has been recently and impressively restored.

Saladin’s Tomb and the Museum of Epigraph

On leaving the Great Mosque by the north gate we turn to the left. The little mausoleum, half-hidden in a small garden and covered by red-ribbed dome, contains the tomb of Salah al Din (Saladin), who rallied Islam at one of the most critical periods and defeated the Crusaders invaders. The building, which had been neglected at one time, was restored at the end of the last century, thanks to the interested generosity of the German Kaiser, Wilhelm II, who had his monogram placed on a lamp hanging over the tomb. Next to the Sultan’s green marble memorial stone (offered by Kaiser Wilhelm II during his visit to Damascus in 1878), in accordance with his wishes, lies that of his faithful secretary. The walls are decorated with some most beautiful mosaics.

The Museum of Epigraph, recently installed in a former Madrassa built in 1421 at the expense of Manjak, the Governor of Damascus, is worth visiting - as much for its setting as for its collections.

The whole interior is decorated with polychrome marble mosaic. The square central room has a dome, directly under which there is a pretty octagonal pool, reached by three steps. There are display cases all round. They contain manuscripts and printed works, marvelous examples of calligraphy and lay-out; there are also stones which show how the graver’s chisel can ally the rigor of Arabic script with artistic fancy to produce most beautiful lettering. There are objects here too -blue faïence inkwells, a reed  pen cut as finely as a scalpel, and engraved metal stamps. Tiles from the pre-Islamic period show the development of Arabic script. A large table illustrates the development of the alphabet from earliest antiquity to the Arabic script of today. Richly illuminated arithmetical and astronomical tables conclude the display of this original and interesting museum.

There are other ancient monuments in this area, between the north facade of the Great Mosque and Bab al Faraj. They are not regularly open to the public. It is worth mentioning two, to which the visitor can gain admission on requesttwo madrassas of the Ayyoubid period (dynasty of Salah al Din, 13th century). The Zahiriya Madrassa was found by Saladin’s father and is now the National Library. Opposite stands the Adiliya Madrassa, conceived and executed according to the style and methods of northern Syria; it has been termed a masterpiece of masonry and construction and has a fine gateway with a hanging keystone. The building now houses the Arab Academy, the most important cultural body in the country.

5- RELIGIOUS BUILDINGS

The Omayyad Mosque of Damascus:

Built by Al-Waleed Bin Abdel-Malek ; this mosque is one of the masterpieces of the Islamic architecture.A visit to Damscus without visiting the Omayyad mosque is definetely not complete. This wonder of architecture which dates back to Al-walid Ibn Abdel Malek (705-715), is characterized by its width, high walls and the beauty of its three minarets and dome. The mosaic panels, one of the treasuers of the building, are made of colored and gilded glass rather than stone. Set between two pillars is the Tomb of St. John the Baptist, a domed shrine. The visitor can also visit the Omayyad Mosque Museum and have a look at the relics of the temple of Jupiter the Damascene and the tomb of saladin that lies north to the mosque.

Dressed modestly and having taken off their shoes, visitors may experience a deeply moving moment as they plunge from the everyday world into that world beyond time, the courtyard of a mosque. They are entering a world of peace and silence. Human figures, crouching under the arcades or out in the great marbled spaces, seem tiny and almost insignificant. Yet the building does not really crush or overwhelm them; it is conceived on a human scale, as a place to which men may come, freely and alone, to commune with God.

As visitors to this sanctuary, whether we be Christian or agnostic, we can only truly experience its atmosphere by sitting down under a shady portico and letting a little time go by… In so doing we shall grasp, imperfectly no doubt, but surely, something of the true quality of Islam. This essential atmosphere is wonderfully conveyed by the Omayyad Mosque of Damascus, which remains one of the Islamic world’s largest mosques.

6- Minarets and mosaics

After these few moments of readjustment, perhaps of meditation, we are ready to look around. The mosque has three minarets, the one at the north-east is known as the Jesus minaret. The mosaic panels, one of the treasures of the building were executed in the ancient Byzantine manner and are made of colored and gilded rather than stone. The main motifs are scenes  of nature and the countryside; only those compositions on the left as we enter the west  arcade of the courtyard date from the earliest period, the 8th century (705-715). The small isolated building, standing on small slender columns and with its walls covered with mosaics, was the "treasury" where public funds were kept, safe from robbers and from fire.

The prayer hall, 130metres long (not open to visitors during the Friday prayers), was  conceived as a basilica with a double range of arcades resting on Corinthian columns. One third of the way along it there is a domed shrine, set between two pillars, which contains a relic venerated by both Christians and Muslims, the head of St. John Baptist (the Prophet Yahia to the Muslims). It is said to have been found in 705 (the 83rd year of Hegira), in the crypt of the previously-existing church, at the time of the building of the mosque, under Caliph Al Walid.

Al Takya Al Sulaymanya: This building is especially famous for the beauty of its dome, symmetry of its two graceful minarets, the organization of its floors, the width of its pool and the multitude of flowers.

Hanania Chapel: This ancient church is particularly fascinating to visitors because of its connection with the story of St. Paul and his conversion to christianity through the help of Hanania.

St. Paul's Church: Bab Kissan, near Bab Shrqi, was changed into a church in memory of St. Paul's leaving Damascus through this gate.

Al-Maryamyah Cathedral: (The Cathedral of Virgin Mary), located near the Tetrapil Archway on Straight Street, this is one of the most beautiful and ancient churches of Damascus. Many people enjoy listening to its lovely hymns and taking a quiet time for prayer.

Other Locations of Intrest: The mosque of Al-Sheik Muhiddin Pasha in Salihiyeh; Darwish Pasha Mosque, noted for its wonderful marbel; Al-Sinanieh mosque, distinguished for its minaret covered with green marble; Al-Tayrouzi mosque in Bab Srijeh, with marble decorated walles; Murad Pasha mosque, located in suwaiqa on Midan Road, featuring a beautiful dome and saiyida Raqiya mosque; located in Al-Amara.

7 QUARTERS OF ANCIENT DAMASCUS

Located within the old city Wall, this area is characterized by relatively narrow lanes and locally beautiful architecture. Strolling down these lanes adds a new dimension to the visitor's enjoyment of the Old City.

Through the centuries, visitors have described Damascus in many different ways. Whatever words one chooses to describe her, there is little doubt that it leaves an indelible mark on the heart and imagination. Damascus becomes more than just another city visited, she becomes a friend.


Towns Around The City

Many people, both local and visitors, enjoy the the Countryside of Damascus which is characterized by:

* Significant prehistoric and archaeological Countryside: Iskafta in Yabroud, Tal al-Ramad near Qatana, Abila in Souq Wadi Barada, etc.

* Fascinating historical buildings: Sednaya Convent of Notre Dame, Maalula churches, Convent of St. Musa al-Habashi, Mar Sarkis church and As'Sayidah Zeinab Mosque.

* Locations from spiritual and religious origin: Ibrahim al Khalil in Barzeh; St. Paul in the Village of Kokab; Sayidah Zeinab the grand daughter of the prophet Muhamed, enshrined just south of Damascus; and finally the young prophet's arrival with his uncle at Al-Qadam.

*Multitudes of cool, mountainside, summer resorts: Bloudan, Zabadani, Buqqein, Einl Fiejeh, Ein El-Khadara, Yabroud, Nabk, Seydnaya, Maalula, etc.

*Simple Countryside industries: embellished straw plates, raisins, dried figs and wine.

*Hospitality and kindness of the local citizens: their friendliness, attractive local costumes, celebrations and artistic activities.

Colorful and interesting one day trips to the suburbs od Damascus might include excursions to:

*Damascus- Zabadani-bloudan travelling through the lush green Barada Valley to Raboueh, Dummar, Al-Hameh, Jdaidet al-Wadi, Ashrafiyat al-Wadi, Einl-Khadra, Einl-Fiejeh, Souq Wadi Barad, Al Takya, Al-Zabadani, Bloudan, Buqqein, al-Jirjanieh, Madaya, etc.

*Damascus-Douma traveling through the ghouta orchards to Jobar, Arbeen, Harasta, Saqba, Ham'muriah, Kafr-batna, Zamalka, Jisreen and Al-Mleha.

*Damascus-seydnaya through the natural beauty of the countryside and relatively newly built villages to Tal Mnien, Seydnaya, Mnien, Halboun ( famous for its fruits), and Ein el-Saheb (well known for its delicious water).

  1. Bloudan
  2. Izzra
  3. Kufic inscriptions
  4. Maalula
  5. Qalaat Rahba(G)

  6. Qanawat

  7. Qara
  8. Seydnaya

  9. Shahba

  10. Shrine Of Seida Zeinab

  11. Yabroud
  12. Zabadani

Others

Also : Salkhad , Tel Shehab, .......

Listing Information

This link is listed for Free.Learn More about featuring your site.
Link Actions:
Addition Date:Added on Oct,02,01 :: Last modified Apr,21,04
Title:Damascus  
Link's Owner:adminadmin :: Visit Profile
Contact Owner:This owner does not wish to be contacted.
Description:No Description specified.
Keywords:No keywords specified.
Listed in Category:Home: Countries: Syria: Cities: Basic Information: Damascus
Number Of Votes:0 Total Votes.
Current Rating:0 out of 10 stars :: Rate Now
Number Of Hits From Our site:175
Number Of Recommendations:No recommendations yet. :: Recommend Now
Number Of Reviews:No reviews yet. :: Write a Review
Guestbook:No Guestbook entries yet. :: Sign Guestbook
Top Sites Banner:The counter below counts the actual hits that this site and this page have gotten so far. For this counter to be accurate the link owner must insert the MuslimsCounter code on their page, if not then it only represent this page total hits.

Bookmark Us - Set as Home - Terms Of Use
Other Sites: Know The Prophet campaign - Discover Islam - Links SQL Plugins
Copyright 2003-2013 Islamic Education & Services Institute: Murfreesboro, TN