Damascus Names and Titles throughout History

 Throughout its long history, Damascus city had more than one name . In  their book, " Damascus Historical Landmarks", researchers Ahmad Ibish and Qutaiba Shehabi, mentioned a historical overview of the history of Damascus city and renamed reason. Among the several  names of Damascus mentioned by the researchers are:

Head of Aram  Countries,  as it is set out  in the Aramic Testament.

The city of Aramean Naaman Leper.

House of Rimmon, it is called so in  a proportion to its altar which is attributed to Rimmon Allodi.

The "Pleasing Village", this is one of its titles  mentioned in the Aramic testament.

The City of Lazarus, it is a proportion to the servant of the prophet Ibrahim.

Gelq.

Jeroen or Jeroen fort.

Dimitrias; which is the name of the Greek community affiliated to the city.

The Eye of East; it was called so by the Roman Emperor You  Lianos.

Al-Sham; which is the synonymous name of Damascus over the ages.

Sham Sharif; this title was launched by Ottoman Turks aiming at honoring Damascus.

Iram of the Pillars; it is named so for the large number of  columns in Damascus. They said also it is the city, Iram of the Pillars, which is mentioned in the Quran.

Virgin; this name is related to Virgin Mary.

Reed of Al-Sham; this title was used by a number of Muslims historians and geographers.

Marquee Muslims ; this title means the resort and sanctuary.

The Door of Kaaba; this title was given to Damascus in the heart of Islam.

The Paradise Land ; it was called so in several eras.

Fayhaa; is one of the most popular titles given to Damascus. It is called so because of its widespread green plains.

Amal Farhat

 

As'ad Pasha,finest khans of Damascus

 

Khan As'ad Pasha is the largest khan in the Old City of Damascus, covering an area of 2,500 square meters (27,000 sq.ft.). Situated along Al-Buzuriyah Souq, it was built and named after As'ad Pasha al-Azm, the governor of Damascus, in 1751-52. Khan As'ad Pasha has been described as one of the finest khans of Damascus, and the most "ambitious" work of architecture in the city.

The building follows a typical khan layout with two floors giving onto a central courtyard. Khan As'ad Pasha is entered from souq al-Buzuriyyah, through a monumental gateway decorated with stone carvings and roofed by a muqarnas semi-dome. The entrance leads to a square-shaped courtyard with old shops on the ground floor. The second floor, accessible by a staircase located to the right of the main entrance, was used mainly for lodging and has eighty rooms arranged along a gallery facing the courtyard.

The space of the central courtyard is divided into nine equal square modules, where each module is covered with a dome raised on a drum pierced with twenty windows. The domes are supported by pendent that transfer the load onto four piers and to the courtyard walls. An octagonal marble fountain occupies the center of the courtyard below the central dome. Each of the four courtyard walls has three doorways on the ground floor, flanked by two rectangular windows. The symmetry is maintained on the second floor where each gallery façade has three archways flanked by two smaller ones. The khan is built of alternating courses of basalt and limestone.

 Three of the courtyard domes were destroyed in an earthquake in 1758. The openings were covered with wooden planks until 1990 when the khan was restored and the domes rebuilt. At the beginning of the 20th century, Khan As'ad Pasha was no longer used for commercial purposes. Until its restoration in 1990, it was used for manufacturing and storage. Today, it is designated as a tourist site and hosts the Natural History Museum of Damascus.

 

Raghda Sawas

 

 

 

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