Syria travel guide: what to do and see in an ancient land
Useful information for exploring Syria, route of interesting places to see the main attractions not to be missed.
Syria is an ancient land with a glorious past, which offers visitors numerous places of great historical and cultural interest. The city of Aleppo is located in the valley of the Orontes, in the north of Syria, after Damascus is the most important city of the country. The city inhabited since ancient peoples from very different has ancient origins of the remains found trace its origin to the third millennium BC The citadel dominates its 50 meters, is located in the center of town and is enclosed by fortified walls and surrounded by a wide moat, inside you can visit parts of the Royal Palace, the public baths, the Small and the Great Mosque. Very striking is the old city of Aleppo, crossed by a maze of narrow streets leading to the souks of any kind with the colors and smells characteristic.
Itinerary to visit Aleppo
– The Umayyad Mosque, also known as the Great Mosque, was founded around 715 by Caliph Al Walid, and subsequently destroyed by a fire that left intact only the minaret. The reconstruction was carried out in the twelfth century by Nur al-Din.
– The madrasa al-Halawiyya, originally Byzantine cathedral is notable for its beautiful columns surmounted by Byzantine capitals of the fifth century.
– The old district of al-Jadidah, inhabited by the middle class Christian of Armenian origin, characterized by beautiful houses surrounded by spacious and elegant gardens. Do not miss a visit to the National Museum of Aleppo, through archaeological evidence documents the fascinating history of Syria and the Middle East.
At a distance of about 30 km north-west of Aleppo are the ruins of a basilica built in honor of St. Simeon Stylites. The Church was built between 476 and 491 around the column where the ascetic Christian lived for 37 years. Simeon stood on a small platform on top of the column, prayed and received many visitors who came to him for a blessing or to ask for advice. After him, others followed his example, and were called stylites (termne derived from the Greek word meaning stylus pillar).
On the right bank of the Orontes River, about 55 Km. From Hama, there is the important archaeological site of Apamea, an ancient Greek city, and later Roman. Apamea was the name of the Persian wife of Seleucus I Nicator, who around 300 BC built the first acropolis, up the hill, where he lived since Neolithic population of farmers. The city quickly became one of the most flourishing centers of the Seleucid kingdom, and also in the Roman period not lost its importance. At the beginning of the fourth century AD, the city became a center of philosophical studies, in when the philosopher Iamblichus founded and directed the Neo-Platonic school. Two earthquakes occurred in the twelfth century AD, almost completely destroyed the city. On the site you can admire remains very interesting, especially from the Roman and Byzantine including the Gate of Antioch, the colonnade street, Terme and Monumental Column, the Agora and the Temple of Zeus Belos, the Roman Theatre, the Citadel, caravansary transformed today in the archaeological museum which houses the mosaics of Apamea.
About 150 km south of Aleppo is the city of Hama. The town has ancient origins, dating back to the Hittites. E ‘and crossed by the Orontes River and is famous for Noire, whose origin dates back to the fourth century AD They are large wooden wheels that lift the water from the river to lead it through the pipes of stone as far as possible from the banks, in order to watering the gardens looking out on the Orontes.
Krak des Chevaliers
At about 60 km south-west of Hama, halfway between Aleppo and Damascus, is the Krak des Chevaliers, a medieval military witness to the presence of Christian crusaders in these places. It was built on the hill, in a strategic position to control the pace of Homs which gave access to the Mediterranean coast. The fortress is very wide, covering an area of about 3 acres, has 13 large towers and includes many halls, passages and bridges.
Palmyra is located in a green oasis about 210 km. North-east of Damascus. Ancient caravan city, resting place for those who crossed the Syrian desert, the city is mentioned for the first time in the second millennium BC The fascinating Roman ruins testify to the importance and richness of Palmyra in the ancient world. It is part of the World Heritage Site.
Maaloula is a small village perched on the mountain, distant about fifty miles from Damascus. In this village by white and blue houses clinging to the rock wall there are two monasteries connected by a canyon, St. Sergius and Santa Tecla. Note that in Maaloula still speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus.
Near Damascus is the convent of Seydnaya, dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It’s a very important place of pilgrimage for the Christian East. The monastery was built by Emperor Justinian in the spot where he had an apparition of the Virgin Mary. It is perched on a rocky outcrop, and inside it is preserved an icon of the Virgin Mary, venerated, that would have been painted by St. Luke.
At about 60 km south of Aleppo is Tell Mardikh, where in the course of important excavations have unearthed the remains of Ebla, the ancient capital of Syria pre-classical, discovered in 1962 by an Italian archaeological mission led by Professor Paolo Matthiae, who is the director of the Italian expedition that since 1964 takes care of the excavations, carried out thanks to a collaboration with the Syrian government and the support of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Despite Ebla was a powerful city with imperial ambitions and was the center of flourishing trade, suffered the assaults of the strongest armies that determinaro its destruction. Excavations revealed the urban structure of the fortified city and the Royal Palace where were found the state archives that provide valuable information, tablets and very interesting exhibits.
Damascus is the capital of Syria, is located at the foot dell’Antilibano on the banks of the river Barada, Oasis Ghouta on a plateau 690 meters above sea level. It’s a city rich in history with ancient origins, already in the eleventh century BC was the capital Aramaic. It was conquered by the Romans, it suffered many rulers before the Arab conquest. In the sixteenth century it was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire, which was followed by a short period of Egyptian rule. In 1922 it was occupied by the French. In 1944 it became the capital of the independent state of Syria. Every era has left its mark, many archaeological sites and architectural works from the Roman-Byzantine civilization and the Islamic civilization are present in the city. The old town is part of the World Heritage Site and one of the main places of interest can be seen, the Umayyad Mosque, the Museum of Arab Epigraphy, the ancient Koranic schools and Madras Zahiriyah Adiliyah, the souks Assagha, the palace Azem, the way Nour ed-Din ash-Shahidil, the Hamidiyah souk, the way Recta and the Christian quarter. In the new city are the High Court of Justice, which deals with the ancient caravanserai of Ibrahim Pasha, the souk craft, the National Museum, the complex of At-Takiyah as-Sulaymaniyah.
In the south of Syria is Bosra, important center since the second century BC under the Nabataean kingdom and ancient capital of the Province Arabica under the Romans. In the second century became an Episcopal and played an important role in the spread of Christianity, until the Arab conquest. Bosra was located at a strategic point, in the middle of the caravan routes and was also a resting place for pilgrims traveling to Mecca. In the Ottoman era the city gradually lost importance. Today Bosra is an interesting archaeological site, with a splendid Roman Theatre, came to light in good condition after long excavation. The ancient city of Bosra is part of the World Heritage Site.