Amazing places to visit in Syria
Syria's history is profoundly rich and diverse, spanning millennia as a cradle of ancient civilizations. Before the recent conflict that began in 2011, the region of present-day Syria was home to several major ancient empires, including the Phoenicians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans. It boasts iconic historical sites such as Palmyra, Damascus and Aleppo. It has a wealth of historical and cultural sites, including ancient cities, UNESCO World Heritage sites, and vibrant markets as well as a welcoming and friendly inhabitants.
Umayyad Mosque, Damascus
Damascus, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities globally, serves as Syria's capital and holds immense historical significance. At its heart lies the Umayyad Mosque, an architectural marvel that stands as a testament to centuries of cultural and religious heritage. Constructed in the early 8th century during the Umayyad Caliphate, the mosque boasts a rich history, having been built on the site of an ancient Aramaean temple and later a Roman temple dedicated to Jupiter. Its grandiose structure includes a vast courtyard adorned with intricate mosaics, ornate minarets, and an awe-inspiring prayer hall. The mosque served as a focal point for Islamic worship, education, and governance, reflecting the Umayyad dynasty's power and influence. Over time, it endured various renovations and reconstructions, preserving its historical and architectural significance while remaining a revered religious site for Muslims worldwide.
Bosra Roman Theatre
The Bosra Roman Theatre, located in the ancient city of Bosra, is an architectural masterpiece dating back to the 2nd century AD. This well-preserved amphitheater, constructed with black basalt stones, once hosted grand performances and seated around 15,000 spectators, showcasing the Roman Empire's cultural richness in the region.
Palmyra, an ancient city in central Syria, holds an illustrious history as a vital caravan stop along the Silk Road. Famed for its awe-inspiring ruins, including the monumental Temple of Bel, the Arch of Triumph, and the vast necropolis, Palmyra represents a fusion of Roman and Persian architectural influences. The city's archaeological treasures, however, faced severe damage due to conflict and vandalism in recent years, underscoring the immense loss to world heritage. Accommodation options in the vicinity of Palmyra have been limited and vary due to the area's historical significance and recent unrest. Visitors might find lodging in nearby cities like Homs or Damascus, which offer a range of hotels, guesthouses, and accommodations suited for varying budgets and preferences. However, due to the area's instability and safety concerns, it's essential to stay updated with travel advisories and consult with local authorities or experienced travel agencies for the most secure lodging options when planning a visit to Palmyra or its surrounding areas.
Quneitra, a town situated in southwestern Syria near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, holds significant historical and geopolitical importance. Once a bustling city, Quneitra was left in ruins following heavy conflict during the Arab-Israeli wars, particularly the 1967 Six-Day War and the 1973 Yom Kippur War. The devastation rendered Quneitra mostly uninhabitable, turning it into a ghost town, a stark reminder of the region's tumultuous past. Today, some of the destroyed structures remain as poignant reminders of the conflict, attracting occasional visitors curious about its historical narrative. Though there are no accommodations within Quneitra itself due to its status as a demilitarized zone, nearby cities like Damascus or other towns in the region offer lodging options for those wishing to explore the area and gain insights into its complex history and geopolitical significance.
Hama, a city located on the banks of the Orontes River in central Syria, is renowned for its iconic Norias, gigantic wooden waterwheels that have become a symbol of the city. These ancient Norias, some dating back over a thousand years, once served as vital irrigation mechanisms, drawing water from the Orontes River to supply the city's farms and fields. Hama's Norias, standing as tall as 20 meters, represent a remarkable feat of engineering and ingenuity from the past. Beyond these architectural marvels, Hama boasts a rich history, with archaeological sites, historic mosques, and an old city area that reflects its cultural heritage. Visitors to Hama often marvel at the serene beauty of the Norias and explore the city's vibrant markets, historical landmarks, and the laid-back ambiance that characterizes this ancient Syrian city.
Crac des Chevaliers
The Crac des Chevaliers, a medieval fortress situated in western Syria, stands as an unparalleled example of military architecture from the Crusader period. Built atop a strategic hilltop in the 11th century by the Knights Hospitaller, the castle's massive walls, imposing towers, and intricate defensive structures showcase the pinnacle of European fortress design. Revered for its formidable defenses and strategic location, the Crac des Chevaliers played a pivotal role during the Crusades. With its sturdy construction and extensive fortifications, including a sophisticated system for water supply and living quarters, the castle became a symbol of military might and resilience. Today, despite some damage due to conflict in the region, the Crac des Chevaliers remains a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a testament to the architectural and historical legacy of the Crusader era in the Middle East.
The Dead Cities
The Dead Cities are a collection of abandoned settlements dating back to the Byzantine and Roman periods. Serjilla, one of the most renowned among these "Dead Cities," presents a striking glimpse into the past. Situated in northern Syria, it once thrived as a prosperous agricultural community with well-preserved stone houses, intricate mosaics, and a unique church structure, reflecting the affluence and cultural richness of its time. The Dead Cities, including Serjilla, were mysteriously deserted around the 7th century.
Aleppo is a city steeped in history and once a bustling trade hub along the Silk Road. At its heart lies the formidable Aleppo Citadel, an ancient fortress that has stood for millennia, witnessing the passage of empires and civilizations. This UNESCO World Heritage Site showcases architectural remnants from various periods, reflecting the city's historical significance. Adjacent to the citadel, the Aleppo Souk, or bazaar, forms a labyrinthine network of bustling markets, narrow alleys, and vibrant stalls. These markets, among the oldest in the world, once bustled with merchants trading spices, textiles, and goods from around the globe. Despite the destruction caused by the recent conflict, efforts at restoration and rebuilding have been ongoing, aiming to revive Aleppo's spirit, preserve its cultural heritage, and reclaim its position as a center of commerce and culture in the Middle East.