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Qasr ibn Wardan,a complex of a palace ,church and barracks

Qasr ibn Wardan  approximately 60 kilometres northeast from Hama, is a sixth-century military complex located in the Syrian desert, according to archaeological encyclopedia.

The complex of a palace, church and barracks was erected in the mid-sixth century by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I (r. 527–565) as a part of a defensive line (together with Resafa and Halabiye) against the Sassanid . Its unique style, "imported" directly from Constantinople and not found anywhere else in present-day Syria, was probably chosen to impress local Beduin tribes and to consolidate control over them. Basalt was brought from somewhere far north or south from the site and marble columns and capitals are supposed to be brought from Apamea.

Nothing remains of the barracks today. The palace was probably the local governor's residence as well. Its best-preserved part is the southern façade of alternating bands of basalt black and brick yellow. There are remains of stables in the northern and a small bath complex at the eastern part of the palace with a central courtyard. Function of each room was indicated by a carved stone.

The church (square-shaped with a central nave and two side aisles) is standing just west of the palace and is architecturally similar to it, but a bit smaller. Originally it was covered by a large dome (only a pendentive remains till today) and shows an example of a Byzantine early dome building technique.

Originally three sides (only northern and southern remain) had upper floor galleries reserved for women. The fourth side is concluded by a typical Byzantine semicircular and half-domed apse.


Damascene Sabils .. Masterpieces of Art and Architecture

(Sabil is a free watering place distributed all over the city of old Damascus.)

 The Sabil in the city of Damascus has formed a model that expresses the perfection of the architectural work and represents a unique work of art of the heritage attraction in the Damascene architecture. They are embellished with motifs and patterns, smooth and pillar shaped arches, writings of poetry and verses from the Koran.

Sabils are fed by Barada spring which meets the Fijeh spring to fork on the outskirts of the city to six rivers spread over neighborhoods and diverge thereafter to channels to reach schools and mosques, baths and houses. They have become on of the most important historical and cultural monuments which allowed residents and travelers over time to supply with water.

The interest of the dwellers of Damascus in drawing water to quench its population dates back to the Roman era. Some divisions of an old channel, belong to that era, are still existed until now and the area is called Qanwat (pl of Channel). It is one of rivers that irrigated Damascus.

In another phase, water tanks were set up on the side of the river to deliver water to the lanes and houses of Damascus. The roads also were provided with to meet the needs of the people in the city and passers- by specially from the neighboring towns and villages who come to fulfill  their wishes and do their works.


Setting up the Sabil dates back to old different times including the Ayyubids and the Mamluks.

 At the beginning of the 20th century, when it was established, al Fiejeh Water Foundation set up new Sabils in the quarters of the city, roads, and entrances of the streets.


The Sabil, being a kind of charitable work, has exercised a social function through ensuring drinking water to the population and the visitors of Damascus.

The Sabils has gained an aesthetic value as a result of the evolution of the art of building.


Setting up Sabils, on one hand,  reflects the abundance of water in Damascus and reflects the kind- hearted of its sons and their thinking to quench the passers-by with the aim of reward and recompense, on the other.


The most important Sabils in Damascus are: Al Mussili Llane Sabil, the Black Jurun Mosque Sabil, Fathi Bath Sabil, Al Bimarstan Al Nouri Sabil, Abu Esh Shamat

 Za wyeih (place for worship) Sabil and Al Sheikh Hassan graveyard Sabil.






Setting Up National Company to Manage Hotels, Tourist Facilities


DAMASCUS, (ST) - Minister of Tourism eng. Hala Al-Nasser said that the ministry is planning to set up a national company to manage private hotels and tourist facilities which were run by foreign companies earlier and that the ministry needs an investor who has the appropriate financial potential to cover the cost.

 During a meeting held here yesterday with a number of representatives of trade and vocational unions, the minister pointed out that the ministry had received many offers from some investors, but it prefers one of its unionist or vocational partners to contribute to the perfect management of these hotels and facilities.

She explained the importance of cooperation between the ministry and the vocational unions and associations and of benefitting from the expertise of qualified national cadres so as to face the consequences of the aggression Syria has been suffering from in the tourism sector. She pointed to the ministry's desire to benefit from local investments in boosting tourism and to provide good tourist services.

The Minister also called for speeding up the construction of new tourist facilities and reviewed contracts signed previously with foreign companies. She said all investment projects, which will be put for investment by the ministry, can be debated in accordance with the laws and regulations.

For his part, Director of Tourism Projects at the Ministry, Ghiath Al Farrah, reviewed a number of sites owned by the Ministry of Tourism and ready for tourist investment in a number of Syrian governorates and discussed the costs of implementing these projects.

Representatives of vocational unions and associations expressed their desire to study the projects offered for tourism investment and present them to the boards of trade and vocational unions so as to evaluate their economic feasibility.




 known in Roman times as Sergiopolis, was a city located in Syria. It is an archaeological site situated south-west of the city of Ar-Raqqah and the Euphrates. The site dates back to the 9th century BC, when a military camp was built by the Assyrians. During Roman times it was a desert outpost fortified to defend against the Sassanids. It flourished as its location on the caravan routes linking Aleppo, Dura Europos, and Palmyra was ideal. Ar-Rasafeh had no spring or running water, so it depended on large cisterns to capture the winter and spring rains. Ar-Rasafeh was planted right in the path of the Persian-Byzantine wars, and was therefore a well-defended city that had massive walls that surrounded it without a break. It also had a fortress. In the 4th century, it became a pilgrimage town for Christians coming to venerate Saint Sergius. Sergius was a Roman soldier who was persecuted for his Christian faith. Sergius was brought to Ar-Rasafeh for his execution, and there he became a martyr for the city. A church was built to mark his grave, and the city was renamed Sergiopolis .

History of Ar-Rasafah

The site dates to the 9th century BC, when a military camp was built by the Assyrians. During Roman times it was a desert outpost fortified to defend against the Sassanid Persians, and a station on the Strata Diocletiana. It flourished as its location on the caravan routes linking Aleppo, Dura Europos, and Palmyra was ideal.

Ar-Rasafeh was planted right in the path of the Roman–Persian wars, and was therefore a well-defended city that had massive walls that surrounded it without a break. It also had a fortress.

In the 4th century, it became a pilgrimage town for Christians coming to venerate Saint Sergius, a Christian Roman soldier said to have been martyred in Ar-Rasafeh during the Diocletianic Persecution. A church was built to mark his grave, and the city was renamed Sergiopolis. Indeed, it became the "most important pilgrimage center in Byzantine Oriens in [the] proto-Byzantine period", with a special appeal to the local Arabs, especially the Ghassanids.

In the 8th century, the Umayyad Caliph Hischam ibn Abd al-Malik (r. 724–743) made the city his favoured residence, and built several palaces around it, when the news of Holagu's crimes in Bagdad reached the inhabitants of Ar-Rasafeh, they left for Salamieh and deserted the area. Ar-Rasafeh remained with its huge buildings to tell about its glory.

Butheina Alnounou

Straight Street

Straight Street is the Roman street that runs from east to west in the old city of Damascus. It was visited by St. Paul as recorded in the book of Acts and contains several interesting sights from the Roman, Christian and Islamic periods.

Under the Greeks, the old city of Damascus was designed after the grid pattern designed by Hippodamus. Under Roman rule, the Via Recta(straight street), was widened and became a colonnaded thoroughfare (cardo). These columns can still be seen today.

The east end of Straight Street is at Bab Sharqi, the Roman gate of the Sun. Like other monumental gates, it has a large central arch for horse-drawn vehicles and two smaller arches on either side for pedestrians. There is a minaret above the northern arch, which was built at the time of Nuri ed-Din, in the 13th century,according to Sacred-destination.

 In Roman times, Straight Street was 26 meters wide and 1,570 meters long, lined on both sides with covered porticos containing shops. The present road follows the same line, starting at Bab Sharqi in the East, crossing the whole width of the ancient city of Damascus, and coming out at the end of Suq Madhat Pasha, 20 meters to the North of Bab Jabyeh on the western side. The present road is narrower than the ancient one, and about 4 meters above its original level.

Almost 700 meters to the west of Bab Sharqi is a Roman monumental arch that was excavated and rebuilt in 1947 by the Syrian Department of Antiquities. It is here that the intersection of Straight Street and the north-south Cardo Maximus has been located. On the right-hand side in ancient times stood a Byzantine church dedicated to the Virgin Mary and called Mariamyeh. Today, on the same site, stands a church which serves as the Seat of the Greek-Orthodox Patriarchate.

The eastern section of the street from the Bab Sharqi gate to the monumental arch is called Sharee al Mustaqueem, which is the Arabic word for 'straight', but it is also known as the Suq et-Tawil, which means 'the large market'. After the arch and all the way to the western end, the street is called Suq Madhat Pasha, and is lined with shops selling textiles, cotton, domestic articles, spices, imported objects and other interesting items. It forms a part of the large commercial complex of Suq el Hamidyeh.

About 450 metres from the western entrance of Madhat Pasha Street, in a stretch covered with a large metal dome, is a small mosque with a balcony in the form of a pulpit that serves as a minaret, called Jakmak or Sheikh Nabhan Mosque..

At the west end of Straight Street is the Arab Gate of the Water Trough, Bab al-Jabiye. This is where the Roman Temple of Jupiter once stood. The Mosque of Hisham (built in 1427), with fine stalactite design, is a bit further on. It is believed that the theater built by Herod the Great in the 1st century BC was in this area.

Also nearby is St. Paul's Chapel, said to be where St. Paul fled by being dropped in a basket through a window in the wall.