Tourism & attraction
Syria - "Every person has two homelands His own and Syria"
Archaeologists have demonstrated that Syria was the center of one of the most ancient civilizations on earth. Around the excavated city of Ebla in northern Syria, discovered in 1975, a great Semitic empire spread from the Red Sea north to Turkey and east to Mesopotamia from 2500 to 2400 B.C. The city of Ebla alone during that time had a population estimated at 260,000. Scholars believe the language of Ebla to be the oldest Semitic language.
Syria was occupied successively by Canaanites, Phoenicians, Hebrews, Arameans, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Nabataeans, Byzantines, and, in part, Crusaders before finally coming under the control of the Ottoman Turks. Syria is significant in the history of Christianity; Paul was converted on the road to Damascus and established the first organized Christian Church at Antioch in ancient Syria, from which he left on many of his missionary journeys.
Damascus, settled about 2500 B.C., is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. It came under Muslim rule in A.D. 636. Immediately thereafter, the city's power and prestige reached its peak, and it became the capital of the Omayyad Empire, which extended from Spain to India from A.D. 661 to A.D. 750, when the Abbasid caliphate was established at Baghdad, Iraq.
Damascus became a provincial capital of the Mameluke Empire around 1260. It was largely destroyed in 1400 by Tamerlane, the Mongol conqueror, who removed many of its craftsmen to Samarkand. Rebuilt, it continued to serve as a capital until 1516. In 1517, it fell under Ottoman rule. The Ottomans remained for the next 400 years, except for a brief occupation by Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt from 1832 to 1840.
The Syrian Cuisine
The Syrian cuisine is varied and rich, in view of the fertility of Syrian lands and the abundance of their crops which enable the cook to be a master and to diversify in his choice and talent in the preparation of fresh meals made of vegetables, legumes and meats.
The Syrian table is always decorated with the various delicious pastries famous all over the world. Travellers do not miss to take with them on their leaving the country samples of these sweets to give them as presents to their dear friends and family members. These desserts are followed by fresh or dried fruits grown in Syrian fields.
Health concern is also cared for through the Syrian fresh and pure mineral waters gushing from mountains tops.
Damascus has a wealth of historical sites dating back to many different periods of the city's history. Since the city has been built up with every passing occupation, it has become almost impossible to excavate all the ruins of Damascus that lie up to 8 feet below the modern level. The Citadel of Damascus is located in the northwest corner of the Old City. The street called straight (referred to in the conversion of St. Paul in Acts 9:11), also known as the Via Recta, was the decumanus (East-West main street) of Roman Damascus, and extended for over 1500 meters. Today, it consists of the street of Bab Sharqi and the Souk Medhat Pasha, a covered market. The Bab Sharqi Street is filled with small shops and leads to the old Christian quarter of Bab Touma (St. Thomas's Gate). Souq Medhat Pasha is also a main market in Damascus and was named after Medhat Pasha, the Ottoman governor of Damascus who renovated the Souq. At the end of the Bab Sharqi street, one reaches the House of Ananias, an underground chapel that was the cellar of Ananias's house.
The Umayyad Mosque, also known as the Grand Mosque of Damascus, is one of the largest mosques in the world, and one of the oldest sites of continuous prayer since the rise of Islam. A shrine in the mosque is said to contain the head of John the Baptist.
Places to visit
The picturesque region of Hauran, Chahba and its mosaics, the antique city of Bosra and its famous amphitheatre, Qanawat and Belís Temple.
Palmyra: The city of Queen Zenobia, with its colonnades, Belís and Baalshaminís Temples, the subterranean tombs.
Travellers enjoy shopping in the souks of Damascus, famous since ancient times for their craft work, Damask tissues, wood inlayed with mother of pearl, copper vases, An evening cup of tea on mount Kassioun over-looking the city, or a dinner in one of the typical with a belly dancer are among other night-time activities in the Capital.
Syria is a middle-income, developing country with an economy based on agriculture, oil, industry, and tourism.
The two main pillars of the Syrian economy have been agriculture and oil. Agriculture, for instance, accounts for 25% of GDP and employs 26% of the total labour force. The government hopes to attract new investment in the tourism, natural gas, and service sectors to diversify its economy and reduce its dependence on oil and agriculture. The government has begun to institute economic reforms aimed at liberalizing most markets.