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Some 562 Tourism Projects in Damascus Countryside

DAMASCUS, (ST) - The number of tourist projects mostly” Hotels and Restaurants" in Damascus Countryside reached 562 tourist projects with a cost of SP 139 billion.

The number of invested tourist projects is 379 with at a cost of SP 39 billion were put under investment.  These included 145 hotels with a cost of SP billion 29 and 234 restaurants at a cost of SP 10 billion, according to Damascus countryside Tourism Directorate.

Other 18 projects are under construction in Damascus Countryside at a cost of SP 17 billion, the directorate added.


Qasr al-Hayr al-Sharqi , A UNESCO World Heritage

Qasr al-Hayr al-Sharqi, or the "Eastern Castle", is a castle in the middle of the Syrian Desert. It was built by the Umayyad caliph Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik in 728-29 CE. It was apparently used as a military and hunting outpost. The palace is the counterpart of Qasr al-Hayr al-Gharbi, a nearby castle palace built one year earlier.

Qasr al-Hayr al-Sharqi is 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) from al-Sukhnah and 100 kilometres (62 mi) from Sergiopolis (Rusafa), near Bishri Mountain near Palmyran Middle Mountains.

The palace consists of a large open courtyard surrounded by thick bulwarks and towers guarding the entrances as well as each corner. The palace consists of two square structures, one with a diameter of 300m and the other of 100 metres (330 ft). The palace(s) contains remnants of rooms, arches and columns which seem to be parts of a huge royal complex. Some of the decorated parts have been moved to the National Museum of Damascus while the gate has been reconstructed in the Deir ez-Zor Museum.

The bigger palace has been several floors, with a huge gate and many towers. Towers were not built as defensive measures. There were also olive yards. The palaces were supplied with water by nearby Byzantine church by a canal 5,700 metres (6,200 yd) long. The palaces contained bathrooms, water reservoirs, mosques and gardens.

This site was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List on June 8, 1999 in the Cultural category.


"Ateel" The charm of well-fortified site

An old inhabited village in Sweida city, Ateel is protected by its unique architectural art. Its name gives her a historical importance that means the strong well-fortified site.

ATEEL is known of its civilized heritage that presents a creative story about the archeological sites and historical landmarks. These sites which date back to the Nabataean Age in the first century B.C. are a witness for many successive civilizations, with its churches and mosques which were converted from temples in the Roman era.

The village most important archeological sites are the two temples. The north one was built in the second century A.D by the leader Karacala, and used by people for a long time. The history of the site is explained in writings in the Roman language on the right side of the temple entrance.

The southern temple registered as a historical monument, was built in 152 A.D. Until now, one can see the columns of its gate, parts of its rooms and the sides of the temple that were decorated with unmatched wonderful architectural and botanical shapes.

Archeologists referred to the distinct construction plan of the two temples and the long road linking them across the village from south to north.

Khaled falhoot

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