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Syria Map & Cities


Of all the towns of Syria it is Aleppo that leaves the profoundest impression upon the visitor. Aleppo was a key town on the trade routes for thousands of years (the silk route among others) and still uses, for local and regional trade, a considerable proportion of the facilities that were developed in the time of the caravans: khans, courtyards as warehouses with workshops around them : kilometers of narrow covered streets where traders and craftsmen congregate according to their various callings and specialties.


A visit to the covered Souks "12 kms" enables the tourist to see something of the town's everyday life and at the same time see monuments which are often no longer used (the madrases and bimarstans for example) but whose design and decoration is extremely interesting. Aleppo is mentioned in Hittite documents dating from the second millennium BC, when it was the center of a prosperous kingdom called "Yamhad". Aleppo thus has a very long history and has been the scene of many events and activities.The Citadel dominating Aleppo is a masterpiece of Arab military architecture. It stands on an archaeological tell containing vestiges of a very early period, but from the Arab period onwards the hill of Aleppo was more than just a fortress; it was the residence of princes and the seat of government. The entrance to the Citadel is still intact, and is of impressive strength and majesty. A visitor to Syria who misses touring Aleppo can hardly be called a real visitor.



A dependency of Arwad. It served as a "mainland suburb" for the Aradians on their island stronghold. The most prosperous, perhaps because closest to the tiny, but powerful metropolis, was AMRIT-MARATHOS. In the 3rd century BC, under the Seleucids, the colony made an attempt to free itself from the domination of the Aradians, but the people of Aradus had no hesitation in destroying the town which had served them for more than a thousand years. In it there are two strange monuments and are sorts of towers or landmarks. One of them pyramid-shaped, the other phallic. At the foot of these monuments and round about, tombs and burial vaults have been carved out of the rock. The biggest of them probably belonged to the kings of Aradus (Arwad) and to the rich families of Amrit.

APAMEA (Afamia):

A Hellenistic and Roman city, Apamea is laid out in the chessboard fashion, like so many other imperial cities. The sitting of the various buildings and quarters of the city was all determined in relation to the decumanus, the central axis. Along this splendid thoroughfare flowed most of the public life of the city, it almost as such as its temples, symbolized a city's pride and prestige. It was lined with shops and linked the principal gates of the city.


A cheating spectacle, indeed! But dominating the tumbled ruins of the city, transcending the disorder, a series of columns with twisted fluting has been re-erected; their capitals and entablatures have been put back in place. The steps separating the mosaic-covered floors of the colonnades from the traffic of the street have been freed from the soil which had buried them. All has become orderly once more, perspective has returned and reason and instinct are satisfied.


The Isle of Arwad, round and tightly packed like a bee-hive, consists of a conglomeration of houses and strongholds. These a beats up against the foot of the walls. There is no tree and not a single piece of vegetation in sight. There is only one space, and a rather confined one at that, which serves both a quayside, wharf and forum, and which looks on to the busy harbor full of sailing- and fishing-boats and fishing-smacks of all colors.


A maze of narrow streets lead up to the highest point on the island where a 13th century stronghold raises its crenellated walls. Arwad is a lively and colorful place whose picturesqueness is quite without artifice.


This resort, some 60 kilometers away from Aleppo is situated not away from a valley whose slopes have been planted with fruit trees. Some distance away there is a cone-shaped hill dotted with the white houses of the village of Ayn Dara. This valley has remained a source of life. As early as the 7th century BC civilization flourished in this area, as is shown by the magnificent stone lions (now in the Museum of Aleppo) that were discovered in a Tell, 8 kilometers to the north of the village. One of them remains on the site and is easy to find.

Ayn Dara

A modest village living from the cultivation of cherries and olives, lies forgotten at the bottom of a valley in the province of Idlib. It is the "largest ghost town in Northern Syria". Al Bara was once an important town, known from the 2nd century BC and still active after the Frankish invasions. The Crusaders took the place in 1098 and were driven out of it twenty-five years later. The monumental tombs are the most surprising buildings at Al Bara, both by their size and by their unusual designs. Square bases made of large blocks of stones were surmounted by pyramidal stone roofs. Here every stone projects like a little console : whether this was intended to be useful, symbolic or merely decorative, remains a mystery.


Mentioned in the lists of Tutmose III and in the letters of Al-Amarna (in the archives of the Pharaoh Ahkenhaton, 1334 B.C.), also referred to in the Bible, became one of the leading Nabatean cities (1st Cent.) before being made the capital of the Province of Arabia by its Roman conquerors (106 AD). As the seat of an archbishop, Bosra played an important role in the history of early Christianity as well as having links with the beginnings of Islam.


The significance of the city as an important halt on the way to Mecca, and the prosperity that this city brought, lasted until the 17th century. In Bosra one can find the most extraordinary monuments in all the Middle East - the fortress-theater, recently and beautifully restored, where the best ballet, theater and folklore companies give performances every summer. This remarkable building is gradually bringing new life to Bosra. From the theater-fortress a narrow road with ancient paving stones leads into the decumanus, near a triple arch known as the Gate of Lantern. It was built in the 3rd Century, in honor of the Third Legion, garrisoned here at Bosra.


This Crac played an important role in controlling inland Syria with the Mediterranean world. It is situated in the heart of the Homs Gap : the gateway to Syria. Built on the site of a former Kurdish castle (hence its name), Crac stands on a hilltop some distance from the main road from Homs to Tartus and Tripoli - 27 kilometers away, down a narrow winding road. Halfway up the hill lies the village of Al-Hosn which used to serve and furnish the Crac with provisions. Before entering the labyrinth of courtyards and passageways it is a good idea to get an overall view by climbing to the top of the hill, taking the metalled road which winds round it on the south side. There it stands on its leveled hilltop, sloping down steeply on three sides, with its high walls, its round towers, bigger at the corners, its machiolated galleries, its groups of partisans and the fine lines of its arrow-slits.


Damascus is an exceptional example of the timelessness and universality of a great city. A modern capital whose voice - discreet but assured, moderate but yet not lacking in feeling - is having a decisive effect in the Arab World and in the Mediterranean area today, Damascus is said to be "the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world". Damascus is mentioned in the earliest historic texts - Egyptian records of the 19th century BC, and the archives of Mari, dating from the 25th century BC Further back, history gives way to legend and speaks of "Dimachq ach-Sham", the "town of Shem", son of Noah. Legend too, gives way to poetry, in which it is said that when Christ returns to Earth to do battle with the Anti-Christ, he will make his way down by the highest minaret of the Umayyad Mosque. Damascus, capital of Syria, is a distinguished city which charms the visitor with its old quarters and its modern aspect. Here the old and the new are side by side ; archaeological remains hundred of years old and ultra-modern Europeans style buildings. Damascus was formerly a fortified city, mention of which is found in Egyptian texts of the eighteenth dynasty and even in Assyrian tablets, as well as in Genesis. Besides being the administrative and political capital of Syria, Damascus is the economic capital of Syria, where banks and other leading commercial and industrial companies have their head offices. In addition, the city is an important university, artistic and tourist center. Damascus owes everything to the river Barada. Descending like a torrent from the Anti-Lebanon range, this narrow river, joined by a hundred smaller streams, cascades down the gorges of Ain Al-Fijeh. Then it meanders for a while beside the Beirut road, giving pleasure to the patrons of restaurants and cafes along its lush green banks, before losing itself in myriad branches, canals and ditches. These gardens, fields and orchards, the oasis from which Damascus gets much of its food.
Damascus offers you with the following attractive places to visit and see:- The Old City within the famous ancient walls. The Holy Shrine of Sayida Zeinab. The magnificent Umayaad Mosque. Saladin's Memorial and the Museum of Epigraph. The Azem Palace and the Popular Arts. The Chapel of Annanias. Al-Takieh Al-Suleimaniya, an Ottoman transplant. The Artisans Bazaars. The Covered Bazaars (Al-Hamidieh). The street called Straight. The national Museum of Damascus. The Historical and Army Museum.

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