Bab Touma!

I was never upset by standing there while I was waiting hours for…

I used to hear laughter and listen to talks there.

I used to smell the various kinds of perfumes when the beautiful ladies passed by...

I used to smell the scents of fresh fruits and nuts.

That was the only place where I felt  satisfied.

In that place, I feel that all people like me, and I feel that I know every person.

Every trip from that place must have ended with a small bag of nuts.

Every story about love passed from that place.

Every bird must have flown over place to learn something.

And now, how can I stop my inner soul shedding tears of pain and agony!

 

Maher Taki

Damascus Citadel

Damascus Citadel, better known as "Qalaat Dimashq", is the only fortress in Damascus. It is located in the heart of the capital.

Historical records indicated that it was built by the Seljuks in 1078 A.D. with several gates. During the reign of Seljuks until 1104 and after, additional construction works were carried out in the citadel.

After attacks by the Crusaders and other invaders against the city of Damascus, some restorations were made in the citadel and more defenses were added to fortify the citadel against attacks. 

Between 1203 and 1216, King al-Adel, brother of the Ayyubid Sultan Salahuddin, ordered Damascus Citadel to be demolished only to be rebuilt again. Sons of King al-Adel contributed to the rebuilding of the citadel's towers and walls which took 15 years.

The castle was surrounded by a deep water trench. Each corner of the castle had a tower. There were two towers in the eastern side, one of which includes the eastern entrance to the castle, and three towers in the northern and southern fronts.

The towers are connected by thick walls, and behind the towers there is a roofed corridor around the castle securing the link between them and it is known as the defensive corridor.      

During the eras of Nur addin Zanki and Salahdin al-Aaubi, the Citadel played a vital role in protecting Damascus from the threat of Crusaders, and supported the politics of the city.

Since it was built, the citadel was a very important military castle. It was the residence for the Ayyubid sultans, and a place where political and social events were held.

It was a city within a city. New parts were discovered during its restoration in 1985, so the citadel could be seen from all sides. 

 The citadel `was surrounded by palaces, baths, mosques, houses and schools.

In mid-thirteenth century, however, the citadel was the main target for Tatar and Mongol attacks which damaged it severely.

When the Mongols were driven out by the Mamluk Sultan of Egypt, Qutuz, in the battle of Ain Jalut in 1260, his successor Baibars rebuilt the citadel.

Between 1300 and 1401, Damascus Citadel was again under siege by Mongols, this time under Timor Lank.  In 1405, the Mamluks ruled Damascus, and the citadel was rebuilt again. However, Damascus and the citadel were surrendered to the Ottomans in 1516.

During the 18th century Damascus Citadel was badly damaged by earthquakes, but was restored by the Ottoman Sultan Mustafa III.

Later, the citadel was used as military barracks and  as prison under the French Colonization.

The present shape of the citadel is rectangular with 13 large towers and several dilapidated gates.

Damascus Citadel is really unique in Syria, as it was built on a flat ground at the same level of the rest of the city and not on a higher location.

One of the most important monuments in the citadel is the mosque of Abi al-Dardaa, one of Prophet Mohammad's (PBUH) companions whose tomb is still being visited.

Damascus citadel is considered as a symbol of old and modern civilization in Damascus, the most ancient continuously inhabited city in the world.

Raghda Sawas

Palmyra: Economic Touristic Treasure

Palmyra is an amazing old city in the middle of Syrian Badia (semi- desert). It is one of Syria’s most famous places to visit. It has a unique location. It is 245 kilometers from Damascus, 160 km from Homs and 220 km from Der Ezzour.  It was once a great city on the road from Europe to India and China.

Palmyra has several archaeological and tourist sites, which flourished and developed in the old days. The visitor can look at the ruins of its buildings, the market and the fantastic theater. Palmyra has become a paradise for tourists and the number one destination for those who have interest in art and civilization. The Roman called the city Palmyra “Oasis of Palms”. It is also called now “Pearl of the Desert”. The more you see Palmyra, the more you are enchanted by its treasures.

Palmyra and its Badia are of great importance in the economic, tourist and archaeological domains. The city is also significant in supporting the agricultural sector including breeding and developing livestock dairy production.

The government has exerted efforts to make the Badia a main area for animal breeding and increasing income for the local community. Investing the Badia in an ideal way will help in supporting national economy.

Palmyra has started to carry out projects concerning protecting and maintaining the Badia and investing its rich resources. The importance of the Badia lies in changing it into a rich area with genetic, animal and plant origins and finding an income that can support tourism revenues of Palmyra city.

The population of Palmyra is estimated at 390,000.  This area includes 50 villages and farms. Residents of Palmyra, thanks to their activities, in those days enjoy a privileged existence living on the crossroads between east and west. The city of Palmyra is now linked by road to other cities and this helps visitors to visit the unique site when touring the country.

The city is surrounded by pasture land and agriculture covers 850’000 hectares and forest areas are estimated at 100.000 hectares whereas there are 3 million hectares of grassland and pastures. There are 50 farming association in Palmyra and the members own 1, 5 million of sheep and 2800 camels.

The city is surrounded by an oasis of palm trees, olives trees 400,000 and pomegranates covering an estimated area estimated of 1,ooo hectares. The annual revenue of these trees ranges between 100 and 150 million Syrian pounds.

Palmyra also contains several natural resources such as phosphate; the annual production is estimated at 2, 5 million tones at al- Sowaneh and Khneifees in addition to marble and reserves of oil and gas.

The government is interested in setting up several ventures such as establishing a free tourism city, international airport and constructing large service centers in addition to other projects. These future plans will help to ensure the city of Palmyra to become a vital and effective center and important tourist destination.

 

Sharif Al-Khatib

Syria 's beaches are ideal for holiday makers

The Syrian coast that stretches between the sea and green mountains is ideal for holiday makers. These mountains are mostly covered with pine and oak trees, and their slopes touch the shores.  This landscape holds a visitor 's breath from Raas al-Basit in the north to Tartous in the South, on the mountainous  villages  and towns scattered with springs of clear mineral  waters.

The Syrian sea-shore is about 175 Km long, and its series of continuous beaches are distinguished by soft sand, unpolluted waters, moderate climate and fertile lands of fresh fruits and vegetables. As a city, Lattakia is Syria 's main sea- port on the Mediterranean. It has retained its importance since ancient times, as it was one of the  five cities built by Selecus in the 2nd century B.C. and was named after his mother " Laudetia".

Lattakia is the sea gate to Syria. It has first class accommodation, and is well-placed as a base from which to explore the Coastal regions of the country.There are beaches, mountains, archeological sites and many relics speaking of glorious ancient civilization.

Raas  Shamra is Lattakia 's main monument. It is 16 Km north of Lattakia. It is the site of Ugarit, the kingdom, where  a golden past of administration, education, diplomacy, law, religion and  economics  between the 16th and 13th centuries B.C. flourished. It is the Kingdom which offered humanity the first alphabet  in the world. Statues, documents  and jewels belonging  to the glorious Kingdom of Ugarit are on display at  Lattakia, Aleppo  and Tartous museums.

The nearest coastal town to Lattakia is Jableh, 28Km to the south. It has a theatre of 8,000 seats. Close to Jableh  is Tell Sokas, where archeological relics were discovered.

Besides  its important economic position, Lattakia has considerable tourist potentials. There are beaches, mountains,  archeological sites and many relics, giving evidences on once a prosperous civilization. Moreover, the most interesting excursions from Lattakia are onto the mountains and valleys to the east and south east of the city.

The valley of Nahr al-Kabir river is almost Alpine in feeling only a few kilometers inland from the sea, and there , the road along this river valley flows to meet another tributary at al-Haffee district, where there is a turning  for the Salah Eddine Castle and then to the " charming holiday center", in the woods at Slunfeh and then to its neighboring Summer resorts on the mountains : Salma which is  only 12 Km from Slunfeh and 800 meters  above the sea level.

Syria 's coastal  Summer resorts are numerous, scattered on the hills and mountains near the sea, they boast fresh air, cool weather in Summer  and moderate weather in  Winter. And of these lovely resorts  is  Slunfeh which  is 50 Km east of Lattakia and 1200 meters  above sea level.  Slunfeh 's rival in natural beauty and oak trees woods is Kasab which is 65 Km north of Lattakia. It is located on the Aqra mountain amongst woods, 800 meters above  sea level. The road that leads to Kasab runs amidst woods, overlooking  most beautiful scenery of Syria 's  best natural beauty. The road to Kasab runs through woods and meadows of wild flowers and plants and groves of olive and vine, orchards of apple trees, leading  to the beautiful forest of Frulloq.

Raas al-Basit, however,  is Lattakia 's main resorts. It is 60 Km north of the city, by Antioch road for 42 Km, then left long a road climbing  through forests . Raas al-Basit is to become  the great popular, and at the same time, international, sea-side, resort, as the road from Lattakia to this resort is a delight in itself. After driving  through some  forty kilometers amidst-rich plantation rising  in two or three terraces from the roadside, carefully kept and ingeniously irrigated, the traveler enters the area of forests . And there, the visitor goes north. There are the forests up there.  And once over a small pass, the Raas al-Basit  road suddenly opens out to an unexpected and pleasant landscape: the forest all at once gives place to fields of cereal crops  enclosing a vast stretch of water. A deep blue lake like a precious stone set against a background of green and gold, that is the lake of Ballouran.

Beyond,  the  road drops rapidly  through a valley  and comes to a stop at the water 's edge . T the left, a sandy path leads towards a promontory, whereas the right hand side path of refreshment bars goes off to connect the bathing  resort with the Summer Resort of Kassab.

 

Tomader Fateh

Mar Takla Church

Lattakia is famous for its archeological monuments and tourist destinations which reflect the City\'s historical and humanitarian deep-rootedness and its cultural and spiritual diversity.

Mar Takla Church and Cemetery are the most important archeological, historical and religious features of Lattakia Province.

Mar Takla Cemetery is very vast as it encompasses family graves dating back to the Classical Era in the 1st Century AD, which contain primitive ecclesiastical features which thought to be used by Saint Takla as a place for worshiping.

Before a century and a half, the site was used by the inhabitants as a store for provisions and breeding livestock and poultry.

The cemetery consists of a large room carved in grits, and it can be entered through 115-cm long and 30-cm wide stairs made of stones which descend towards the cemetery with an angle of 120 degrees

Near the door of the cemetery, one can see a vast a square-shaped hall with dimensions of 410×410 cm surrounded by a 50-cm high and 40-cm wide threshold leading to 13 burial chambers distributed among the four walls of the cemetery.

One can also see five holes carved in the walls of the cemetery that were used for the lanterns and the funerary tools.

The site also includes the Classical Grave which has attracted the attention of several international Arab and foreign and archeologists.