Jebel Qassioun, Damascus
They shine at night, they seems to be so far from us, standing up on this mountain...Drinking a hot tea, my eyes lost in yours, no words are needed cause our hearts are talking already...Oh God, i dont wanna go away.....please, let me stay here, forever...Doesn't split what is born to be One.....Those citylights, the same i saw from the plane, as lil stars in the sky, where you are the shinest one...
Jebel Qassioun is the "mountain" right behind Damascus... well, actually the hill where the TV antenna is. If you go there at sunset, provided the sky is clear, you'll be rewarded by a truly unforgettable sunset over the city. Apparently there's public transportation to there, but I could not find any - and all the locals I met they all had reached it by car. With four other people I hired a taxi - it wasn't too cheap, but it surely was money well spent. The sunset was magical!
There are many landmarks to help the visitor in the center of the city, despite all the works that are going on. The avenue Shukry Kouwatly ends at a sort of esplanade , crowded with taxis an d buses. From here, on the right, the boulevard al Jabry begins (general post office, railway station); on the left is the boulevard Port Saïd, which becomes the boulevard du 29 Mai, ending at the place du 17 April, facing the imposing marble colonnade of the Central Bank. These wide boulevards are lined with restaurants, cinemas, the monument to the glory of the Syrian peasant (Mydan Youssef al Azmeh), the Mouhafazah, or town hall, the city Tourist Information International Bureau, and commercial buildings of many kinds (for example, high-quality jewelers). If, leaving the boulevards, we take one of the streets continuing the avenue Shukry Kouwatly to the east, we arrive at Sahat al Shoufhada'a ("the square of the Martyrs"), still commonly known as place Marjeh. This square is easily recognized by a curious bronze colonnade wreathed in electric cables. This monument was erected to commemorate the opening of first telegraphic link in the Middle East - the line between Damascus and Medina.
If you want a complete view of the city, then head up to the road halfway up Mount Qassioun. You can walk here, but it's a bit of a trek as you can't climb it from the suburbs on the slopes - you have to follow the road to Dummar to get behind the mountain first. It is best to take a taxi, though agree on a price first. The road passes through a military area, so try to look like a lost ignorant tourist rather than an Israeli spy, and take notice of the guards if they tell you not to look to your left. The President owns a house near here, so they are particularly wary about 'who goes there'. Once at the top (not the very top, that's a military area too), there are great views over the city - I never realised Damascus was so big until I came up here. All the guidebooks mention cafes where you can watch the sunset over some tea and a nargileh, but these have since been bulldozed (could it have something to do with the military areas nearby?!...), and it has now been transformed into the local 'Lovers' Lane', so be warned - it is not an earthquake which is rocking that car!!!
There are also very old quarters on the slopes of Mount Qassioun, which offer more tourist-free souks and great views of Damascus. It is extremely easy to get disorientated the higher up you go, as many of the roads are just staircases between houses. The picture on the left shows the new city, with Mount Qassioun on the right.
If you have enough spare time (like many travellers do) I recommend walking up, having lunch looking at the city and then running down. We should all be up for that right? RIght? Maybe not.