Syria is not really a popular holiday destination. In the field of culture, Syria has much to offer. Moreover, the Syrians are very friendly and cooperative. Because Syria is not very big and a good infrastructure, it is easy from Damascus to all interesting sites to travel by bus or (shared) taxi. The capital Damascus is therefore the ideal base. Even the imposing temple complex of Baalbek in Lebanon is close at hand.
Syria is not a big country, in comparison, about half the size of Italy. Syria is bordered in the north to Turkey in the East aaan Iraq, in southern Jordan and Israel and the West to Lebanon. Given the location and the political climate in these countries, Syria will not soon be a top holiday destination. Only a small part of Syria is located directly on the Mediterranean with a generally liberal main coastal city of Lattakia. From the beaches to the pampered Western European tourists are not (yet) too many proposals. But Syria can boast an impressive history. The crusaders have some interesting traces in the form of castles. Below is the description of a few highlights of Syria
Damascus is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. On tablets with hieroglyphics found in Egypt, mentions “Dimashqa” as one of the cities conquered by the Egyptians in the 15th century BC!
Damascus is broadly divided into two parts: the Old Town and the rest. The Old Town is a treasure hidden behind its walls: hundreds of old houses built around courtyards, each with their own special decorations. Some houses are open to visitors, such as Beit Shami, what is now the Historical Museum of Damascus, and Azem Palace. Also in the Old City to visit: the Umayyad Mosque, one of the most remarkable buildings of Islam, whose history goes back some 3000 years.
A visit to Souq Saroujah in the center of Damascus is a wonderful experience. This is a compact historic area with winding streets, small shops, medieval tombs, a little mosque and street furniture. South of the Citadel is an indoor market, the Souq al-Hamidiyya, with the first part many souvenir shops, lots of kitsch and nepartikelen, but for a pittance to buy a bong and there’s nothing kitschy, because the hookah Syria is in full use. Many household items and – incredibly – for one of the bins full of racy lingerie shops, which fully veiled women started their attempt to save. Further back in the streets, you will find many herbs, fruits and vegetables and all sweets and candy. Pushing a cart filled with boxes and candied fruit for gifts. If you’re still in Damascus, it is interesting to see the traditional dance of the dervishes to do that could be in Umayyad Palace Restaurant. The dervishes spinning ever faster around their axis, you get almost giddy when you look at it.
Castles of the Crusaders, Krak des Chevaliers Irish
Syria has a number of these castles, but it is surely the most beautiful castle remarkably well-preserved castle Krak des Chevaliers Irish (closest to the city of Homs, in itself not very interesting, location). It is one of the main attractions of Syria. 800 years ago should not have looked much different. If you’re on top of the fortress stands, you see that in the wider area the fort is the only halt the mountain ranges. This is a place where you can easily spend a few hours searching.
From Damascus to the north expected to come up first in Homs and Hama afterwards. The main attractions of Hama are the so called Norias, ancient wooden water wheels, sometimes with a diameter of 20 meters, which were intended for irrigation. Once there were 30, now there are over 17. They are still running, but only in summer. For the rest, people switched to more modern means. Of the ancient city of Hama, after the bombing of 1982, not many survived. But the Great Mosque has been well restored.
Aleppo is the second largest city after Damascus. Main attraction is the Citadel, in the time of the Knights Cross by the Muslims was used as a fortification. To get to it you need a bridge with steps to 20 meters deep and 30 meters wide moat to stabbing. Directly opposite lies the Citadel Aleppo Souq, which is not very touristy, but still for the locals, the main place to shop. Apart from the Old Town, there is the less Al-Jdeida old neighborhood from the early Ottoman period, actually the most attractive part of Aleppo. There is also a tangle of streets with old houses, all in one courtyard.
Palmyra, the desert
Palmyra is also accessible by bus from Damascus. It is a journey of at least six hours and the bus has no luxury. Except that besides a neighbor with a goat on her lap, you get stuck, you should not be surprised if there is a lack of space in purple plastic garden chairs in the aisle to be put down. But if you must see it is Palmyra in Syria. The ruins of ancient Tadmor (Palmyra) date from the second century AD, and cover some 50 hectares. The new town spreads around the Palmyra ruins. The Temple of Bel is one of the best preserved parts. Call was one of the gods of ancient Palmyra. Our taxi driver remembers what fun for us and so we come to a Bedoeïnenfamilie. We are guests in their large tent and have tea and various snacks indefinable handed. The other side of the coin that these people are so welcoming, that you dare not say no when they offer you anything for fear of offending them so.
Maalula, in the mountains, not far from Damascus and is easily reached by bus. It is a peaceful village with houses built against the rock. There are two monasteries here to visit: the monastery of Saint Tecla and the Monastery of St. Sergius. Most inhabitants are Greek Orthodox, but also some Muslims living there. The best part is that you all pais can buy rosaries and harmony to the Muslim, who are friendly shop next to his Catholic neighbor runs.
From Damascus it is to Baalbek, Lebanon, approximately 2.5 hours drive. A taxi can get the Baramke terminal, just south of the cenrtrum of Damascus. Our taxi was an old, bright yellow Chevrolet without some safety devices whatsoever. At the wheel is an Arab in djellabah with a cloth wrapped casually around his head, which loosely rusty hulk on the (snowy) pass which links Syria to Lebanon, sends. Expect lots of delays and hassles at the border. But it is worth. The acropolis of Baalbek is one of the largest in the world, is a World Heritage Site and amazingly beautiful, as he bathed in morning sunlight – as we find him. The city of Baalbek was originally named after the Phoenician god Baal. The Greeks called the city Heliopolis and later the Romans worshiped their god Jupiter here. The remains of the Temple of Jupiter and the temple of Bacchus are the biggest attractions. In the Palmyra Hotel, in 1874, life is good. Even if you spend the night here but you can at least eat or drink, because it is directly opposite the ruins.