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Salkhad castle

Salkhad Castle, locally known as Qalaat Salkhad, is situated on a small mountain in the town under the same name, south east of the city of Damascus, near the Jordan border.

Though the town itself already existed during biblical times, the first fortification on this site was probably built by the Fatimid Caliph Al-Mustansir around 1073.

In 1146 Salkhad Castle was sieged by the combined armies of Muin ad-Din Unur; Emperor of Damascus, and Nur ad-Din Mahmud; son of the famous Zengi, to crush a revolt.

The present ruins of Salkhad Castle date back to the first half of the 13th century when the Ayyubids built the castle to protect Damascus against the Kingdom of Jerusalem. In the second half of the 13th century however the castle was conquered by the Mamluks and in 1277 the castle was rebuilt by the Mamluk Sultan Baibars.

In the 1920's the south of Syria was a French Mandate. When the mainly people revolted against the French, they entrenched themselves in the old castle. This lead to an air raid during which the castle was bombarded and remained a ruin ever since.

The ruins of Salkhad Castle have been used for military purposes during several decades at the end of the 20th century and were therefore inaccessible. During the 1990's some restoration works were carried out.

At present the castle can be visited freely, although the remains of the castle above ground may be little, the mountain is riddled with subterranean rooms, vaults and passageways, things that make visiting this charming place is very enjoyable.

Khaled falhoot

"Memory of Homeland..Souriana" Exhibits Art Works Depicting Syria's Rich Cultural Heritage

DAMASCUS, (ST) - Culture Minister Dr. Loubana Moushaweh on Sunday opened "Memory of Homeland…Souriana" Exhibition at the Kafar Souseh Cultural Center in Damascus. More than a hundred oil paintings and photos in addition to a big number of historical documents are being displayed in the event which lasts till February 12th.

Held in cooperation with "Ladies of Syria" group, the exhibition shows Syria's deep history and civilization as a rich source of culture which has been able for ages to keep Syria's fingerprints on all scientific, cultural, economic and technical domains.

In a statement to SANA, Minister Moushaweh said "the exhibition refreshes the memories of its visitors and makes them realize the deep history, the original civilization and the great homeland they belong to."

She hailed the efforts exerted by the "Ladies of Syria" group, which comprises a number of Syrian women who have been keen to collect and shed light on some of the Syrian heritage works starting from their love to their homeland.

Lebanese freedom fighter, Samar al-Haj, who visited the exhibition, said the event depicts Syria as the land of civilizations and religions, stressing that some parties are targeting Syria's cultural heritage despite the fact that their countries don't even have any kind of cultural heritage.

She added "culture in Syria doesn't stop despite the tragic events Syria has been witnessing over the past two years."

Nille Miro, member of the Ladies of Syria group said what Syria has been facing is huger than a war, so we intended in the second part of exhibition to recall Syria's civilization, glorious history and points of strength.

For his part, artist Mahmoud Salem, member of the Friends of the Camera Club, said 50 photography works reflecting Syria's rich history and civilization are being displayed in the exhibition to stress Syria's beauty and ability to surpass crises.

"Syria is stronger than all crises and thanks to its people's efforts Syria will overcome all the obstacles hindering its progress.

 

H. Mustafa

GDAM records Transgressions museums

The exceptional circumstances Syria is witnessing during the ongoing crisis have bad impacts on the Syrian cultural heritage, but it is worthy to mention that these impacts are not reported accurately with media using exaggeration in describing the current situation of Syria's cultural heritage at a critical time we are in need of accurate information.

The General Directorate Of Antiquities and Museums has stated that all the contents of the Syrian museums are in safe and stored in secure locations ,clarifying the museums and archaeological sites have suffered from transgressions.

The statement said the directorate is working hard in cooperation with the concerned bodies and local communities to alleviate the effects of the current crisis, noting these efforts succeeded in protecting several sites  and recovered stolen antiquities.

The statement detailed the damage inflicted upon the Syrian archaeological sites since the beginning of the crisis, referring the contents of the museums were packed and removed to safe locations along with important historical documents that are placed in safe warehouses to be protected against arson, humidity and theft.

'' since the beginning of the crisis, the vandalism of the museums are limited to the theft of a gold-plated bronze statue dating back to the Aramaic period from Hama Museum, a marble fragment from Apamea Museum,17 pieces of pottery and clay dolls from  Jaabar castle in addition to material damages to the building of several museums  caused by the armed terrorist groups'' the statement added.

According to the statement,  the citadels of Aleppo, Al-Madiq, Al-Rahab, Shezar and Krak des Chevalies were caused to damage, the burning of hundreds of  antique shops and the Umayyad Mosque in Aleppo, as well as the'' Argonian'' antique hospital which was used as a museum for medicines. 

The statement indicated that a number of churches, places of worships, houses and traditional markets in Homs and Daraa  Governorate were also sustained to hostile damaged caused by the foreign- baked armed terrorist groups.

Rawaa Ghanam

 

33 participants in the first course for combating illiteracy in Sweida

A special exam for the participants in the first course of combating illiteracy has begun in al-Sweida governorate. The exam aimed at offering a basic education certification for the participants to enable them to continue their education in other levels .

Director of the training course Salha al-Hajali said the participants will be distributed at three exams centers in aL-Sweida city and one in Salkhad town .

The three -day exam includes Arabic and English languages , science religion and math.

" a special committee will be in charge of evaluating the 33 participants' levels" ,miss al-Hajali also added ,highlighting the governorate's efforts in this regard .

 

Al-Sweida- Nahla Al-maaz

   

Twin Ahd and Majd Abou Hadeer, Example of Talented, Ambitious Syrian Childhood

 Though the ongoing crisis in Syria has affected the lives of all Syrian families, particularly children, yet, the Syrians are now, more than ever, determined to keep challenging their hard circumstances and trying to build better future for the coming generation.

Twin Ahd and Majd Abou Hadeer, 12, are a good example of ambitious Syrian children, who, despite current crisis and with the help of their parents, have been able to find their way towards a better future through enhancing their musical talent.

"It is very necessary to make a better future for us," stressed the excelled twin in an article they co-wrote in the Children Arab Magazine "Osama".

Since early childhood, Ahd and Majd received special attention by their parents who were keen to enrich their education and develop their talents. Thanks to this care, the twin succeeded in being pioneers in playing the zither for two successive years at the country's level.

As they were good at music, their mother encouraged them to learn playing the zither (Qanoon) in Arabic, since, according to her, the one who used to do difficult things finds everything easy.

"We start to learn the zither at home and then at school where our teacher has the biggest favor in helping us sing and play musical instruments based on a musical notepad. Later, we participated in a concert at the Higher Institute for Music under her supervision. It was really a wonderful encouraging start," the twin said in their article.

In 2010- 2011 study year they were admitted as students at the Arab Institute for Music, where Ahd learned playing the Cello and Majd continued developing his talent of zither playing.

"It wasn't a problem for us to move to playing different musical instruments, as the most important thing for us was to lean music since it is the food of the souls," underlined the twin.

Beside music, the two kids have got other hobbies, like reading, painting and singing. They participated in a party at the Opera House marking Child Week occasion where they sang on stage for an hour.

"It was fantastic, we felt our hearts were about to stop beating when we stood on a huge stage and in front of hundreds of people coming to enjoy the party.

The two kids are keen to fill every moment of their free time in useful activities, so they keep reading useful world and Arab stories and Magazines.  They also have contributions to official newspapers, particularly the sport and entertainment pages.

 

H. Mustafa