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Damascus
The Northern Region
The Eastern Region
The Southern Region
The Middle Region
The Coastal Region

Damascus: city and country side

DamascusDamascus, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, is an emerald oasis resting in the shades of Ghuta orchard and quenching its thirst from Barada water.
Damascus is a mixture of glorious heritage and modernity. This city stood proudly against the invaders and resisted the Franks campaigns that failed to tarnish its pride nature.
Damascus witnessed many civilizations and co-existed with them, preserving their imprints and monuments. Many poets and travelers praised Damascus and were fascinates by its wonders.
Historians called Damascus: Jollaq, Al Fayha, Ash-Sham and attributed it to Demshaq Ibin Canaan. Many others confirmed that it dates back to the time before Abraham Al khalil.
Damascus is the birthplace of philosophers and great architects who left their imprints upon the Roman Empire. The architects, Apollodorus the Damascene, designed the first bridge on the Danube River as well as the great Trojan Forum in Rome. Papinien and Ulpien , the well-known men of law, were also from this part of the world.
Old Damascus is surrounded by a wall and towers, in addition to eight gates, six of which are attributed to ancient times whilst the other two are Islamic.
Umayyad MosqueThe Umayyad Mosque with its three minarets and columns of the temple of Jupiter the Damascene stands at the heart of the city embracing several historical and archaeological monuments.
Important places such as : Saladin Mausoleum and schools such as: Al Adelieh, Al Jaqmaqieh (Museum of Arabic Calligraphy), and Al Zaherieh are all situated to the north of the mosque. To the south: Azem Palace, Khan Asa'ad Pasha and Hammam Nur-iddin are other interesting sites. Saint Hanania church stands to the east of the Old City, whereas Saint Paul church is situated at Kissan gate.
This was the place where the Saint was loaded in a basket from the wall and left Damascus for Europe to preach Christianity.
In the west of the Old City , Damascus Ayyubid Citadel as well as Takieh Sulemanieh with its Military Museum next to the National Museum.
At the top of Qasyun mountain, there is Al Arab'een Shrine, where Eve stayed after her son Cain killed his brother Abel, thus became the first victim in history, as the legends says.
Many Damascene houses, hammams, Khans and historical schools dating back to the successive Islamic periods are scattered inside Old Damascus in addition to An-Nawfara the popular café. There are other locations of interest such as : Al Assad National Library, Tishrin war Panorama, the Monument of the Unknown Soldier on Qasyun Mountain, the opera the National Theater , cultural centers as well as several sport complexes.
The Countryside

Many summer resorts are scattered around Damascus and are famous for their wonderful climate, fresh fruits and tasty food. These include Zabadani, Bukein, Halya, Bloudan, Ayn Al Fijeh, Ma'alula , Seydnaya, Mua'ret Seydnaya, Jaba'adin with its historical caves as well as As-Sabboura and Ya'afur with their modern villas.

Ma'alula
Ma'alula churchMa'alula means the "entrances" in the Aramaic language. It is a rocky village located in Al-Qalamoon Mountains, in the eastern lower part of Lebanese eastern mountains.
Its Houses cling on hills of limestone and the village has two famous monasteries:
1-St. Sergius & Bacchus monastery: built in the fourth century A.D which has valuable icons from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in addition to portraits of Arab saints.
2-St. Tecla monastery: people of all religious worship the shrine of St. Tecla who was one of the first saints in Christianity.
Till now, the people of Ma'alula speak Aramaic, the Language of Jesus Christ.
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The Northern Region

From that region and during the Roman-Byzantine period, wine and oil were exported to many parts of these Empires.
Then it became the centre of attraction for visitors from all over Europe to venerate Saint Simeon, the Stylite.
This region attracts visitors who are interested in arts and archaeology.
It is also known for its Dead Cities which include more than six hundred archeological sites: grand tombs, churches, monasteries, Cells and beautiful country houses. In this region, stone villages spread all over the area forming a fascinating scene.
Some important villages: Al Bara, Serjilah , Qalb Lozeh, Aqraba, Nubul, and Sita monastery.

Aleppo
AleppoThis city is distinguished by its oriental character. It is situated between the Mediterranean and the Euphrates through which the most important caravans passed to the four corners of the world.
It was the capital of the Amorite “Yemhad Kingdom” in the third millennium B.C. It was conquered, built and destroyed many times by invaders. The city is surrounded by towers and walls and it is one of the oldest & most beautiful inhabited cities in the world.
Aleppo’s citadel, which overlooks the city, is a magnificent symbol of the Arabian military architecture, a witness of the great past of the city.
Tens of kilometers of covered souqs run through the old city.
The new areas of Aleppo are well built and surrounded by nice gardens.
Aleppo is renowned among other Syrian cities for its delicious food and the art of good cooking.
It is also the home of oriental music where the famous Qudood emerged.
This type of music is still admired all over the Arab world.

Ebla
EblaEstablished in the third millennium B.C. Ebla became the most important political and cultural centre in Syria between 2400-2300 B.C, which provoked the jealousy of Sarrgun so he destroyed it. Soon afterwards, it was rebuilt once again and regained its strength between 2000-1800 B.C.
There are thousands of cuneiform, tables besides the temples, palaces and the fine sculptures which are enduring evidences of a great civilization.

Saint Simeon Monastery
Saint Simeon Monastery syria15 centuries ago, Emperor Zenon built this important cathedral to honor Saint Simeon who lived 40 years on a pillar preaching to his audience. This church is an example of the beauty attained by the Syrian architecture and was imitated in Europe three centuries later.
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The Eastern Region

The water of Euphrates, Khabour, Jagjag and Balikh transformed the desert into fruitful gardens and green lands. This land was the place for life and civilization thousands of years ago.
On the banks of these rivers, many cities, villages and kingdoms were established of such as Mari , Doura Europos , Ar’Raqqa, Deir Ez-Zor and Al-Hasakeh.
The hills of this region hide hundreds of tales and treasures, which prove the historical importance of this region.
The Euphrates dam revived the whole region again so it restored its social, agricultural, economical, and construction activities.

Dura Europos
Dura Europos overlooks the Euphrates RiverThe remaining of a fortified place overlooking the Euphrates from the top of a hill casting its shadows on the brilliant waters of the Euphrates. It was the last defensive fortress for the Romans against Persian attacks.
It was also a centre for commercial caravans coming from different directions, especially Silk Road caravans.
It was the centre for a great civilization where the cultures of East & West met in the first century A.D.

Mari
MariThe kingdom of Mari was ruled in the third millennium B.C. by the 10th. Royal Dynasty. It was a strong capital but its wealth the Babylon’s greed so they seized and destroyed it.
Excavations in Mari unearthed a great palace of 300 rooms, temples and libraries in which thousands of cuneiform tablets were found.
These tablets have clarified a great portion of Mesopotamian civilization. Jewellry, Frescos and ornaments engraved in stone can be seen in the museums of Damascus, Aleppo & Deir Ez-Zor.

Ar-Rasafeh
Ar-Rasafeh-gateDuring the Roman-Byzantine period, it was named Sergiopolis in the honor of Saint Sergius. If looks like an emerald oasis on the way of commercial caravans.
The Arabs Gassanids took an interest in it and made it their capital. Al-Munzir Bin Jableh built his palace there.
In the Umayyad period, the caliph Hisham Bin Abdul Malek lived and hunted there.
When the news of Holagu’s crimes in Bagdad reached the inhabitants of Ar-Rasafeh, they left for Salamieh and deserted the area. Ar-Rasafeh remains with its huge buildings to tell about its glory.
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The Southern Region

The Horan region expands on natural platforms in the basaltic mountains south of Damascus. It also extends to the Syrian desert and has been inhabited since the stone age by many peoples of different Cultures.
Great monuments left by Nabateans, Romans, Byzantines and Arabs can be visited such as:

 

Bosra
Bosra TheaterThis was the Roman capital for the Arabic region and is located in the middle of a fertile valley.
There is a huge gate leading to the city with its old paved roads. The lively and brilliant colors of costumes in this city create a charming and amazing contrast with the dark and gloomy color of the basaltic stone of the temples, palaces, high columns and mosques dating back to Middle Ages.
In Bosra , there is a magnificent amphitheater dating back to the second century A.D and can accommodate up to 15000 spectators.

Shahba
ShahbaThis is the village that witnessed the birth of Philip, the Arab Emperor who rebuilt the city in 244 A.D. In Shahba, you can see ruins of a theatre, baths and temples. The local museum contains wonderful mosaic panel and an incredibly lifelike marble sculpture of the head of Philip.
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The Middle Region

This region forms a link between all Syrian governorates and is considered an important agricultural and industrial center. It is distinguished by its old history and special position. A Syrian family from this region ruled the area through various emperors in Rome. This inspired the important poet of the time, Juvenal to write:
"The Orontes River flows into the Tiber". The oldest irrigation system was invented and is still used on its banks. The water wheels (Norias) are still running and send their everlasting moaning sounds across the river.

Palmyra
Palmyra ruinsPalmyra city stands as a symbol for the Arab Queen "Zenobia", who was an extraordinary example of an ambitious woman. She stood against the greatness and mightiness of Rome.
Today, Palmyra is famous for its temples, walls and tombs.
It is surrounded by a green oasis of Olive, palm and pomegranate trees and looks like a mirage in the middle of a vast desert. Brilliant Palmyra is located between the Mediterranean Sea and the Arab Jazirah and it was an important meeting point on the Silk Road.

Crac Des Chevaliers
Crac Des Chevaliers CastleIt is the most famous castle of the middle ages. It stands proudly on a volcanic crater and overlooks the fertile plains, Homs and Lattakia mountains. This castle tells the story of two centuries of bloody and brutal struggle between the Arabs & the Franks, and was liberated in 1271 by the sultan Al Zaher Baybars who rebuilt the ruined and added many new buildings.

Afamia (Apamea)
AfamiaWas built in the fourth century B.C. by Seleucus Necator who named it after his wife, Afamia .
Many famous people visited this city like Antonio & Cleopatra and Hannibal.
A school of Philosophy on a modern platonic approach was established here.
The Romans rebuilt it so the Persian and Roman civilizations were wonderfully intermingled.
It was a commercial center where trade caravans used to meet & pass. It was later destroyed by two severe earthquakes.
You can see a wall surrounding its beautiful ruins of high columns , old houses and large churches dating back to the fifth and sixth centuries A.D, and also a splendid amphitheatre.
The museum has a lot of extraordinary mosaic panels.
Shaizar citadel, dating back to the 13th C., stands proudly on the nearby hill.
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The Coastal Region

This region consists of fertile plains and several bays and caps extending from Ras Al Bassit in the north (near Alexandrette) to Tartus in the South. On the western slopes of the Lattakia mountains, there are a lot of small villages, ancient citadels besides many old ruins, Also, summer resorts where people enjoy the mild climate: Slenfeh and Kasab.

Latakia
Fortress of Saladin

Built by the Seleucids in the third century B.C. it is distinguished by its main port, which has been used since the old Roman period. In Lattakia, you can see the Arch of Victory, Which was built by Septimus Severus and a beautiful khan which became the city museum.


Ugarit
Ugarit

12 km from Lattakia. The first Alphabet and first written musical notes were discovered here.

Ugarit was a very important commercial centre and the capital of the Canaanites Kingdom in the 2nd. Millennium B.C.

The king of Ugarit had very large and splendid palaces which later became the centre for governmental administration. The ruins of this palace give witness to the glory of this Kingdom.

Salah al-Din Citadel
Fortress of Saladin

55 km from Lattakia , situated on the top of a very rocky mountain overlooking the surrounding green forests.

It was described as the most impregnable fortress. The Arab commander Salah al-Din liberated it in 1188 A.D.

In 1225; the Ambassador of Venice Republic visited it and signed a commercial treaty with its governor due to its important and strategic position.

Tartus and Arwad
Arwad castle

Antrados (Tartus) and Arados (Arwad Island) have had fraternal life and historical relations since the old ages. They were renowned for their maritime and commercial importance.

From their shores, the Phoenician vessels sailed loaded by the finest goods and delicious spices. To the south of Tartous , you can see the ruins of Amrit, which represent a distinguished temple carved into the rocks, surrounded by water and a sports playground which was used four centuries B.C by ancient Syrians in their sport events.

Al – Marqab Citadel
Al-Marqab Citadel6 km south of Banyas and 500 m. above sea level. The citadel, with its huge wall and fourteen towers , looks like a huge vessel that sits on top of the hill, overlooking an endless azure sea.


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