Damascus Journals

Damascus: New And Old

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An August 2009 trip to Damascus by Liam Hetherington

Souq Saroujah Photo, Damascus, Syria More Photos
Quote: Damascus is the oldest continually inhabited city in the world. Even the New City has roots over a millenium old. Nothing is replaced; everything is reused and recycled. As I was to find out...

Afamia Hotel

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Hotel | "Central - But Typically Syrian"

Afamia Hotel Photo, Damascus, Syria
Quote:
Damascus, you are continually informed, is the oldest continually inhabited city on earth. Even without venturing into the Old City I could believe it – the clapped-out old bangers on the roads, the 1000-year old houses canting crazily alongside the main roads in the New City, the typical Middle Eastern love of concrete architecture. As such I found the Hotel Afamia in perfect keeping with its surroundings. The room furnishings were dated, the Syronics TV – practically a metre cubed in size – could not pick up a single television channel, looking out any window revealed a tangle of several dozen electrical wires knotted like a skein of knitting wool running along the sill. Add in the frequent b...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on March 1, 2010

Afamia Hotel
P.O.Box: 55 65
Damascus, Syria
+963 11 222 8963

Souq Saroujah

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Attraction | "Tables Among The Tombs"

Souq Saroujah Photo, Damascus, Syria
Quote:
Souq Saroujah (literally, the ‘Saddlers’ Bazaar’) is a neighbourhood of intertwining streets and alleys north of the Citadel. It keeps a village-y atmosphere and is (mostly) free of Damascus’ usual high-rise concrete architecture. As such, it is a favourite with travellers – there are cheap eateries and even a couple of backpacker hostels in the souq. It is a good venue for a bit of a mooch as it is less frenetic than either the main roads of the New City or the souqs of the Old. We easily found a café to sit down outside, a lovely old building on a small square overhung with ivy and ancient trees across from an ornately lacquered shopfront. Fresh fruit juice (lemon and mint) cost 100SYP, and they had...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 1, 2010

Souq Saroujah
Old Town
Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic

National Museum of Syria

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Attraction | "History, Pre-history, and Pre-pre-history"

National Museum of Syria Photo, Damascus, Syria
Quote:
Syria really was part of the cradle of civilisation. As such, a visit to the National Museum west down the main Sharia Shoukri al-Quwatli is well worth while for history buffs, and will help you contextualise the ancient sites you visit in the country.The ticket office is on the road itself, allowing access to a well-watered statue-dotted garden. Entry to the museum itself is via the castelline main entrance – the main gate of a 7th century desert palace recreated here, looking like a chess piece with its chunky towers. The most famous exhibits are off to the left, with finds from the classical eras – primarily Palmyra and Dura Europus on the Euphrates. Here you will find hefty stat...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 1, 2010

National Museum of Syria
Qasser-Al-Heir Street
Damascus, Syria
+963 (11) 44677238

Ez al-Sham

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Restaurant | "Torpedoes and Kebabs"

Ez al-Sham Photo, Damascus, Syria
Quote:
Sharia Bur Said is a major north-south route in central Damascus, anchored at its lower end by the Hejaz train station, and heading north under the Victoria Bridge intersection to Saahat Yousef al-Azmeh. We were fortunate to find a pretty decent restaurant on this street, although it was rather hidden away (look for the plastic chef ushering you up a staircase on the western side of the avenue). Upstairs, the restaurant itself is a lovely little hidden nook, all mashrabiyya screens and intricate woodwork, with some customers puffing away on shishas. The customers were a mix, though jean-clad 20-somethings outnumbered their parents generation. The staff were friendly, They didn’t speak much...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 1, 2010

Ez al-Sham
Sharia Bur Said, New City
Damascus, Syria
+963 11 221 9640

Bosra Roman Amphitheater

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Attraction | "Theatre Among The Ruins"

Bosra Roman Amphitheater Photo, Damascus, Syria
Quote:
For history nerds and armchair Indiana Joneses a trip out of Damascus to Bosra, the nearest major archaeological site, is well recommended. Though you may not have the ruins all to yourselves…Buses run to Bosra from Damascus’ Al-Samariyeh bus station. I did not have the luxury of time however as I was already booked on a bus to Palmyra at 1.30. So instead I hired a taxi for a half-day for 3500 SYP. This seems a lot, but actually it was less than three times the price that return bus tickets would have cost me, it was quicker (75 minutes to get there, 90 to get back), and it guaranteed that I could be there, have a good nosy around, and be back in Damascus in time for my bus to Tadmo...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 1, 2010

Bosra Roman Amphitheater
near Bosra
Damascus, Syria

The Kindness of Strangers

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Story/Tip

Quote:
His name, he told me, was Anwar. His name meant ‘light’ – the day of his birth saw his little Syrian village connected up to electricity for the first time and he was born that night beneath the glow of an electric lightbulb. He told me this as we flew over Germany en route to Istanbul. I was travelling on to Cairo. Anwar knew Cairo – he had studied medicine at the university there in the days of Nasser and Sadat, back before he had moved to England to practice as a doctor. Today he was travelling back to Damascus to see his family. When he heard that my journey overland f...Read More