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Tell Kazel

It is located in Safita district, in the north of the Akkar plain on the north of the al-Abrash river approximately 18 kilometres (11 mi) south of Tartus Governorate, according to archaeological encyclopedia.

The tell was first surveyed in 1956 after which a lengthy discussion was opened by Maurice Dunand and N. Saliby identifying the site with the ancient city variously named Sumur, Simyra or Zemar (Egypt. Smr Akkad. Sumuru or Assyrian Simirra. The ancient city is mentioned in the Bible, Book of Genesis (Genesis 10:18) and 1 Chronicles (1 Chronicles 1:16) as the home of the Zemarites, an offshoot of the Caananites. It was a major trade center and appears in the Amarna letters; Ahribta is named as its ruler. It was under the guardianship of Rib-Hadda, king of Byblos, but revolted against him and joined Abdi-Ashirta's expanding kingdom of Amurru. Pro-Egyptian factions may have seized the city again but Abdi-Ashirta's son Aziru recaptured the city.

The tell was first excavated between 1960 and 1962 by Maurice Dunand, N. Saliby and A. Bounni who determined a sequence between the Middle Bronze Age through to the Hellenistic civilization. The most important occupations were determined to have taken place during the Late Bronze Age and Persian Empire.

In 1985, new excavations began in partnership between the Archaeological Museum of the American University of Beirut and the Directorate-General of Antiquities and Museums in Syria under the directorship of Leila Badre. A large amount of imported pottery from Cyprus was found dating between the 14th and 12th centuries BC and contrasting to other sites in the Homs gap. The city was destroyed during the Late Bronze Age, after which local Mycenaean ceramics, Handmade burnished ware and Grey ware replaced the imported pottery. Architectural remains at the site include a palace complex and temple that were dated towards the end of the Late Bronze Age. The temple contained a variety of amulets, seals and glazed ware that showed similarities with the culture of Ugarit. A later Iron Age settlement was detected between the 9th and 8th centuries BC which was brought to an end with evidence of burnt destruction caused by a currently unidentified Assyrian invasion. A warehouse and defensive installation made out of ashlar blocks were found dating to the Persian period with further evidence of Hellenistic occupation evidenced by a large cemetery in the northeast of the site.


Tourism Ministry Seeks to Establish its Identity as Distinct Tourist Destination

DAMASCUS, (ST) -  Through its promotional  plan for the year 2013 and within its available potentials, the Ministry of Tourism  seeks to exceed obstacles and problems and find exits contribute to the shaping of tourist aspects after the crisis ends.

The ministry's plan includes activities and many events in the forefront of promoting the tourist project to Syria and establish its identity as a tourist destination on a distinguished list of the global tourism map where the ministry considers this project as an essential to its work as well as activating the tracks of religious tourism, the most important is the route of the Christian Maronite pilgrimage to Brad, the cradle of the Maronite world, alongside the tracks of ancient cities in the governorates by taking advantage of the project of tourist tracks in the old city of Damascus.

In a statement to SANA, Director of Marketing and Promotion at the Ministry of Tourism, Kauthar Mlessan, pointed out  that the promotional plan also includes re-activating the previous agreements with the Syrian Airline to provide cards airline or special discounts to the Ministry of Tourism that can be utilized in receptions projects, establishing international festivals and various tourist activities in Damascus and outside of Syrian cities, sponsoring festivals and activities and TV programs in addition to providing moral or financial support for the activities carried out by NGOs and private development initiatives that are held within the tourist and archaeological sites.

Perhaps the world fame of  al Warda al Shamia (Damascene Rose), the ambassador  of Damascus to the world,  made it an essential pillar of the ministry's plan for this year and  devoted her a track includes tours on farms in the villages of al Marah and Ain al-Tineh as well as briefing on the tracks of the archaeological garden north of Aleppo, Idlib . This site is recorded on the list of World Heritage by placing plates to signify the names of villages and the shape of the track and the distance between them.

"In this framework the processes of  rehabilitation and investing some old  inns as as Khan al Arous and Khan al Ruz in cooperation with the departments of tourist planning and Damascus Countryside Tourism and bodies concerned in addition to selecting  Simon village as a heritage site in the framework of empowerment of rural woman and poverty reduction so that visiting tourists through this village can buy some souvenirs or to take a break and attend some local civil activities or even to stay at the homes of Syrian historic heritage character," Mlessan clarified.

About the means of promotion of tourist products, Mlessan, Director of Marketing and Promotion confirmed that brochures to the gates of Damascus will be issued, including the gate of history, civilization, Islamic and Christian tourism, the Damascene kitchen, heritage, traditional industries, shopping, entertainment, culture, art and creativity in addition to the production of booklets on various tourist products, another book on Syria and another on each of the governorates of Damascus and Aleppo, the issuance of brochures for products that have not previously been working on them, other Syrian cuisine and a third includes various other products.

With regard to the direction to the east, Mlessan confirmed that it is scheduled to participate in tourist shows in New Delhi, Moscow and Beijing in order to maintain the presence of Syrian tourism in the global tourist market.

"The ministry is seeking to cooperate with the Syrian embassies in countries abroad, especially in Latin America where there is the largest concentration of the Syrian communities abroad, especially Brazil and Venezuela with the aim of creating some promotional activities," Mlessan pointed out.

"In the future plans, it is expected to  implement and organize programs to familiarize the Syrian expatriates in order to enhance their affiliation to their homeland, Syria, and hosting media delegations that include specialist  journalists in the field of travel, tourism, television stations and international travel agencies to familiarize them with the Syrian various tourist product, hosting conferences and workshops to global travel agencies with their counterparts from the Syrian travel agencies," Mlessan stressed.

Sh. Kh

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.