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Written by HobWahid on 28 Sep, 2004
Although the city of Lattakia has seen its fair share of history, the modern city has surprisingly little to show for it. Unlike other cities in Syria, there is no Old City and no real Roman ruins to speak of, but that doesn’t mean that…Read More
Although the city of Lattakia has seen its fair share of history, the modern city has surprisingly little to show for it. Unlike other cities in Syria, there is no Old City and no real Roman ruins to speak of, but that doesn’t mean that the Lattakia of today has nothing to offer the tourist. Lattakia is Syria’s largest port and its most modern city. You will not find any great historical monuments in Lattakia, but you will find a city with an air unlike any other in Syria. It is by far Syria’s hippest town, with the best shopping, fancy restaurants, and trendy Internet cafes. Alcohol flows freely at bars and young Lattakians dance the night away at various clubs. To the casual visitor to the Middle East, the seemingly liberal nature of Lattakia will provide a sharp contrast to other cities in the Middle East. Women walk around in tank tops and capri pants, dressed head to toe in the latest fashions. Part of this liberal air comes from the fact that this area has Syria’s highest proportion of Christians and Alawis (a fringe Islamic sect and the religion of President al-Assad), but also contributing to Lattakia’s free nature is its status as Syria’s main port. In a country where access to the outside world can be a bit limited (often due to sanctions), Lattakia has always been the contact point between Syria and the rest of the world, so it is no surprise that it would maintain an identity different from Damascus.
Most Syrians come to Lattakia for the shopping and for the beaches. Just to the north of the city is the Shatt al-Azraq, Syria’s "Côte d’Azur," full of fancy resorts and beaches. To the traveler in Syria, though, Lattakia can make a nice base from which to make some excursions to the surrounding area. Both Qalat Salah ad-Din and Qalat Marqab can be done as day trips from here. There are also the ruins of Ugrit to the north, the site where the world’s oldest alphabet was found.
Inside Lattakia itself there is one main attraction, the Lattakia Museum. The museum is housed in an old Ottoman building and surrounded by a nice set of gardens full of various sarcophagi and columns. At the front of the museum are four nice Greco-Roman statues, one with its head still attached. Inside the museum the rooms are divided into periods. There are ancient rooms that contain pottery and tablets from the Egyptian, Phoenician, and Ugarit eras. The classical rooms contain coins, pottery, and jewelry from the Roman and Greek eras. There is then the Islamic room that contains relics from the various eras of Islamic rule and the Crusades. The museum also contains a modern art room that contains a few paintings from local artists. While not the greatest museum, it does provide a nice respite from the craziness of the city.
Other than that, just take in Lattakia and maybe eat some fresh seafood.