Best things to do in Damascus
Find out more about those top places in Damascus
Little introduction is needed for Damascus; it is not only one of the oldest cities in the world but also one of the most popular. Titled the “city of Jasmine” it is located on the eastern foothills of the Anti-Lebanon mountain range and currently has the tag of being the most populous city in Syria.
Damascus has several attractions and is very much a fascinating destination for lovers of ancient cities, but due to the unrest in Syria it is considered a dangerous place to visit at the moment.
Hard to find a Mosque as majestic as the Umayyad Mosque in the middle east – recognized as one of the largest and oldest places of worship in the world, it is very revered by the citizens of Syria. Built on the site of a former Christian Basilica, the mosque has a rectangular shape spanning 97 meters by 156 meters. It is also the location for the mausoleum which holds the tombs of Ayyubid Sultan Sladin and believe to be the arrival point of Jesus at the End of Days.
Perhaps the most popular place in all of Syria, the Al-Hamidiyah Souq built along the axis of the original Roman street that led to Jupiter’s Temple, it dates back to the Ottoman Empire. It is the largest Souq in Syria at 500-meters-long, starting at the Al-Thawra street and ending at the Umayyad Mosque Plaza. It has several shops and stalls, including grocery shops, ice cream parlors, cafes and food stalls.
The Al-Azem Palace is another beautiful display of Damascus’s architectural brilliance. Dating back to the Ottoman Era, the Palace was built in 1749 to serve as a private residence for Asád Pasha Al-Azem the governor of Damascus. Consisting of several buildings, it is divided into 3 wings namely the Harem, the Selamlek and the Khademlek – the harem was used by the Governor’s family, while the Selamlek and Khademlek were used for guest and other official purposes. Later acquired by the Syrian Government, it was renovated to house the Museum of Arts and Popular Traditions.
Being one of the top cities in ancient times, Damascus needed protecting – the Damascus Citadel is one of many fortifications put in place to defend the city against invaders, most especially the Crusaders who were repelled several times thanks to the fortress. It is located at the north-western corner of the old city and dates back to late 12th century during the reign of Salah Eddine. It is also a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Built to commemorate the October War between Egypt and Syria against Israel, the museum offers knowledge of the war from a Syria’s perspective. Inaugurated by President Hafez al-Assad in 1998, the museum exhibitions include war artifacts such as jets, tanks and guns. The most significant attraction remains its 3D panorama, where visitors sit on a rotating platform while viewing depictions of the battles in a 3D format making it more realistic.