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Tourist Destinations in Damascus (2)

There are also three minarets: the minaret of the bride, the oldest one north of the mosque, the minaret of Jesus and the minaret of Fatima . -The Mosque of Hazrat Ruqaya: in the quarter of al Amara. It is an old mosque renovated in the nineties of the twentieth century. - Arch Of Triumph: A Roman arch in al Amin district, near Bab Sharqi . -Saladin Tomb: Just behind the Umayyad Mosque. It has two graves. One is made of wood with the remains of Sultan Saladin, (died 589 H /1193 AD) inside. The second, which is empty, was built of marble, on orders of Dhia Pasha, the Ottoman governor of Damascus 1876. On 1898 Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany visited the tomb, laid on it a wreath of bronze , especially made for the occasion in Germany. After 1918 E.T. Lawrence of Arabia transported it to England as a war booty . - Al Azem palace: One of the most significant monuments in old Damascus. It used to be divided into two wings: Salamlek, used by males and Haramlek, used by females. It was built by Asaad Pasha al Azem, governor of Damascus 1749.


 Now it is used as a museum of folklore . -Al Madrasa(school) Al Adelia: Just north of the Umayyad Mosque, built by Seifeddin Abi Bakr Mohammad, during the Ayyubid period 1215Ad. In 1919 it accommodated the first archeological museum in Syria (now the National Museum ), then it hosted the first board of Arabic scientists which included the best Arab and foreign intellectuals as a first board in kind, an example to be followed by the Iraqis who founded a board of scientists in Baghdad and by the Egyptians who founded the Arabic Language Board in Cairo. These boards participated in spreading Arab civilization and thought, especially that related to Arabic . - Al Madrasa Al Zaheria : Just opposite al Madrasa al Adeliya, it was built during the reign of the Memlouk king al Zaher Baibars 1277 AD. In 1879 it was changed into a public library which included thousands of titles of books, documents, and historical manuscripts . - Al Madrasa Al Jaqmaqeya: North of the Umayyad Mosque. It was renewed by Seifeddin Jaqmaq, 1421, after being burnt during the invasion of Tamerlain 1400 AD. Now it is used as a Museum of Arabic Epigraphy . - Maristan Al Nouri: in al Hariqua. Built by Sultan Noureddin Zanki, known as Noureddin the Martyre 1154 AD, as a medicine school and a hospital. The institute graduated the most prominent physicians of that time. Now it is the Museum Of Arab Medicine And Sciences . It is worthy to mention that Arabs were the first who built public hospitals during the reign of the Umayyad Dynasty. Hospitals became known in Europe centuries later. –

The Straight Street: (Via Recta) is one of the longest and most famous streets in old Damascus. It extended for 1500 m inside the walls of the city from Bab al Jabiyeh to Bab Sharqui It was 20-25 m wide. The street is historically important for the following reasons : - First it represented the first circulation- First it represented the first circulation system in the world. The street was used by horsemen and animals (heavy traffic), while the two narrower side lanes were used by pedestrians as one way lanes of opposite directions. - Second: St. Paul crossed this street on his way to meet St. Ananias as was ordered by the revelation of Jesus Christ . - Third: When Arab Moslems entered Damascus in 635, commanders of the two Moslem armies met in the middle of the street and signed the protocol of the safety of the people of Damascus . The Markets (Souks) - Souk Al Hamidiye :This souk with its two hundred fifty shops, is as famous as the other historical monuments of old Damascus. It is located at the shoulder of Damascus citadel, 600 m long and  20 m wide. It was built in two stages The first one 1780 from al Nasr street to al Asrounieh Bazaar. The eastern part was built in 1884 from al Asrounieh to Bab al Breed. In the late years of the 18th. century it was covered with a tin roof to protect it from fire and from adverse weather .

Visitors to the souk in sunny days can see rays of the sun penetrating hundreds of bullet holes in the roof, witnesses of the fierce fighting during the 1925-27 revolution . In the souk, shops sell silk, brocade, Damask, aghabani, wool, ladies wears, gifts, oriental artifacts as well as hand craft products like mosaics in laid with mother of pearl, silver and gold in addition to carpets and kelims etc ... Several shops offer the famous Damascus Ice cream and cookies and beverages all round the year . No wonder it is called the souk of (one thousand and one sort ). - Souk Madhat Pasha: The western Souk al Hamidiye. It has 332 shops . It was built by the Memlouks in 1419-1421 and renovated in 1787. Bullets of the fighters of the Syrian revolution against the French occupation left thousands of holes in the metallic roof of the souk, from where golden rays of the sun penetrate the rather cool and weakly lit atmosphere of the souk and  add a touch of joyful magic beauty to it. Souk Madhat Pasha is one of the specialized bazaars of old Damascus where tissues, textiles, Arab caftans, caffeyas (men head covers ) wool carpets and kelims are sold in addition to the perfumes and the herbs used as natural medications. Along the souk there were several hostels (khans) now turned into stores or shops for selling different commodities. Of these khans: Khan al Decca built 1339, Khan Jaqmaq built 1419-1421, Khan al Zeit, And Khan Suleiman pasha al Azem 1732 . Al Buzourieh: It is an old souk, branch of the Straight Street .It has 95 shops ST. Ananias Chapel Straight Street - Arch Of Triumph said of it:“ In the middle of the souk of Damascus I discovered the most beautiful Khan in the world (Khan Asa‘ad Pasha)”. The Gold Souks: In the heart of the old city there are different markets mingling with each other. The most prominent of these are two souks of gold (Jewelry): the first is south of the Umayyad Mosque, the other is in al Hariqa. Lovers of gold can find the most beautiful and elegant designs of Jewelry made by the clever Syrian goldsmiths.

Damascus Citadel: At the north western corner of the wall of the old city. The first time it was built in 1076. On 1202 al Malik Al Adel ordered the citadel to be pulled down and rebuilt. It was renovated several times because of the different quakes and sieges that affected its structure. The French shelled it on 29 May 1945, and on 1983 explorations of the citadel started again and parts of its western and eastern walls were discovered again. Now the citadel is being prepared to be restored and requalified with the help of an Italian mission. Museums in Damascus that sell spices, seeds and cookies from all parts of the world. In this souk a visitor can see the traditional “Sabat Al Arous“ (the bride‘s lamp ) which was used to be filled by all kinds of sweets and cookies to be presented to the guests attending the marriage party (similar to the bridal cake in these days) dry fruits, Qamreddin and medical herbs . Souk Al Buzourieh has several historical buildings such as the -Bath of Noureddin, built in 1170 and renewed in 1980. This bath is still in service and is considered one of the most beautiful tourist destinations . -Khan Asa‘ad Pasha al Azem 1753, which is a historical hostel of 2500 square meters. Municipal authorities started renovating the Khan in 1973. This Khan is one of the most beautiful Khans in Damascus with several domes and various designs. What is wonderful about the Khan is that once you step inside it you feel that you have left the bustling noise of the crowded street to dive into a quiet and calm atmosphere . Western orientalists admired the Khan too much. The French poet Lamartine The National Museum: built in 1936 and includes five wings: The wing of prehistoric era, the wing of ancient ages, wing of the classical period, wing of the Arab and Islamic pe riod, and the Museum of Modern Arts Museum Of People‘s Traditions (folkore): (in Al Azem Palace). It was established in 1945 to show images of the public life in Damascus during the 18th and  20th century . Museum of Arabic Epigraphy: in al Madrasa al Jaqmaqya near the Umayyad Mosque. It was established in 1975 to include samples of Arabic writings . Museum Of Medicine And Sciences: It was established in 1978 in Maristan Al Nouri to include samples of medical

tools and manuscripts documenting the development of medicine and sciences during the Arab renaissance . Monuments Outside the wall .   Mosque of Sheikh Mohieddin in the Salihiye district built in 1518. The Takieyyeh as-Sulaymaniyyeh complex: West of the city. It was built in two sections: The Takieyyeh built in 1554-1559 and the school 1566.

It is an Ottoman complex intended to host elderly and handicapped people. The school was built to accommodate students of that time. Inside the Takiyyeh there is a mosque designed and built 1553 by Sinan, the greatest architect of the Ottoman era to reflect Damascusß role as a vital stopping place on the pilgrimage from Istanbul to Mecca. The domed prayer hall, the minarets and the delicate sense of proportion are typically Turkish, where as the alternating rows of black and white stone work known locally as the (Ablaq) forming the entrance arch were popular in the Memlouk times. The Handicraft Bazaar: inside the Takiyyeh as-Sulaymanieh, founded by the ministry of tourism in 1972 to preserve local handicrafts and the heritage of Damascus. It includes about 40 shops that sell gifts, and souvenirs ranging from jewelry (gold & Silver), inlaid metals. swords, daggers, bayonets, wood and copper works inlaid with mother of pearl and silver, mosaics, hand made glassware of different styles and colours, Damascene textile,  pottery and kelims .....etc.

 Haifaa Mafalani