Unique Places in Damascus

  • Minshieh Park
    Minshieh Park
    by mikey_e
  • A monument in the park
    A monument in the park
    by mikey_e
  • A close-up of the monument
    A close-up of the monument
    by mikey_e

Most Viewed Off The Beaten Path in Damascus

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    Arab Poetry Institute

    by mikey_e Written Nov 25, 2012

    Poetry occupies a very important place in Arab culture. It, not the novel or the epic, is the repository of Arab literary tradition, and Arab poets have created a canon of forms and styles that are well-known and well-studied throughout the Arab World. I'm not aware of the Arab Poetry Institute occupying an important role in the Arab World, and certainly there is a lot of competition from Qatar and its attempts to achieve cultural dominance. Nevertheless, the institute caught my fancy, not least because of its elaborate sign.

    Arab Poetry Institute

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    Malik Faisal Street

    by mikey_e Written Nov 25, 2012

    Malik Faisal Street is what the French call a "quartier populaire" or a working class neighbourhood. Nevertheless, it is an interesting window into the lives of average Damascenes, as its markets lack the historical sheen or the opulence of some of the ones you will find inside the old city. The shops are traditional, but in another vein of tradition, and the people here are more likely to ignore tourists than to see them as a source of income.

    Malik Faisal Street

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    French Mandate Houses

    by mikey_e Written Nov 25, 2012

    I will readily admit that I have no idea what this particular house is or who built it, but I can see, from what is available of the inscription over the door, that it was inaugurated in 1924, which would mean that the building was opened while Damascus was under French occupation, following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. The buidling took my fancy, as it is an obvious example of the manner in which Damascene traditional architecture was still viewed as having intrinsic aesthetic value by a colonizer who was fond of exporting its own cultural and architectural products. I am not certain that visitors are allowed into the complex (it was closed both day and night), but at the very least pictures of the façade are permitted, and it does help to brighten up the otherwise grimy Nasser Street

    Fa��ade of the building at night
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    Argentine Monument

    by mikey_e Written Nov 25, 2012

    It is estimated that there are over ten million people in Latin America who claim heritage from what might be called "Greater Syria": the lands of the Levant that are today split between Syria proper and Lebanon. The vast majority of these people are Catholics who migrated for economic reasons to the New World, and they have become very much integrated into society and the establishment. Famous descendants include Shakira, the Colombian popstar (who is half Lebanese) and Carlos Menem, the former President of Argentina, who was of Syrian origin. In recognition of the deep ties that link Syria, Lebanon and Argentina, a monument was erected in the intersection of Argentina and Brazil streets, in the upscale area of Damascus behind the Four Seasons. It is a recent monument that commemorates the 1810 declaration of Independece of Argentina, and was inaugurated by current President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, in May 2010.

    Argentine Monument

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    Museum of Arab Medicine and Science

    by mikey_e Written Nov 25, 2012

    During Europe's Dark Ages - when the learning and knowledge of the Roman and Greek areas was lost to the ignorance of theocracy and war - the Arab World became the repository of scientific knowledge that had been cultivated over millennia in the Mediterranean basin. Arab translated texts from Greek and Latin into Arabic and expanded upon them, greatly enriching the disciplines of chemistry, medicine, physics, biology, astronomy and mathematics. This learning was well-known in European circles, and many of the philosophers and scientists who participated in this era of great intellectual advancement were famous in Europea as well as the Arab World. I did not have the opportunity to visit the Museum of Arab Medicine and Science (it was closed on Friday), but I would imagine that it contains a fair amount of information regarding this aspect of Arab-European quasi-cooperation for the good of humanity. It is located in the vicinity of the Azm Palace.

    Museum of Arab Medicine and Science Entrance to the museum Relief outside the museum entrance Ottoman seal outside of the Museum
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    • Museum Visits
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    Four Seasons Hotel

    by mikey_e Written Nov 24, 2012

    I understand that the Four Seasons Hotel is probably better placed under the Hotels section, but I did not stay at the hotel, and thus wouldn't be able to provide the sort of information that is usually required of such tips. The Four Seasons, nevertheless, serves as a bit of a guide for anyone coming to the city, and together with the Sheraton, it forms the basis of the international hotels available. The Four Season is undoubtedly in a far better neighbourhood and has much better services in it and around it than the Sheraton does. It is also when the high-level visitors often stay when they come to the city, which means that it must be quite good for people watching.

    The Four Seasons The hotel from the west The hotel from the east

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    Iranian Cultural Centre

    by mikey_e Written Nov 24, 2012

    While not quite as famous as Alliance Française or the Goethe Institut, the Iranian government does indeed fund cultural centres intended to promote the culture, language and foreign policy of the Islamic Republic. These are generally targetted to cities in which they are most effective: in addition to Damascus, I've seen one in Sarajevo as well. They have a small bookstore that sells all manner of books about Iran and its culture, or about world events as they are seen by the Iranian establishment. There are also offices in which diplomats work, presumably to promote bilateral understanding and an appreciation of Iranian culture. I was particularly impressed by the tilework on the building, which is quite typical of Iranian designs. The centre is located just off of Merjeh Square.

    Iranian Cultural Centre A closer view of the tilework
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    Minshieh Park

    by mikey_e Written Nov 24, 2012

    This is hardly a historical attraction or a park of great importance, but Minshieh Park is a beautiful green spot in a city that can, otherwise, seem a bit claustrophobic. It is located right beside the Four Seasons Hotel (to its west) and it has lovely sculpted gardens and a few monuments as well. When I visited in January 2011, it was a popular spot for young couples and soldiers, and a perfect place for anyone looking to rest their feet and watch the world go by.

    Minshieh Park A monument in the park A close-up of the monument

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    The Fallen

    by TheWanderingCamel Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Syria saw fierce fighting in both World Wars.
    Those of you interested in this aspect of the country's history might like to find their way to the Commonwealth War Cemetery to wander among the graves of the dead of both these wars. As well as the immaculately kept graves of soldiers from Britain, Australia, NZ, Canada, India and other Commonwealth countries, you will find the memorial to the men of the Indian Army who are buried in unmarked graves. There are also a few Polish graves and even a woman who served there with the Church Army. It is a beautiful, tranquil place, well worth seeking out.

    The staff at the Cemetery finish work each day at 2.00 pm and the gates are locked from that time. Arrangements are in hand for a spare set of keys to be kept nearby and a sign erected on the gates informing visitors of the locality.

    The cemetery is approximately 5 kilometres south-west of the city centre in an area known as Sabara (Arabic for prickly pear). The cemetery is amongst an area of prickly pear plants, which is located behind apartment blocks and therefore is not easily viewed from any main roads. However, visitors can best reach the cemetery by private car or taxi. From Al Umawiyeen Square go along Fayez Mansour Motorway to just past the Ar Razi Hospital. Then turn left until you find Al Farabi St. (which runs parallel with Fayez Mansour Motorway) and turn right into it. You will then go past the British Ambassador's Residence (which is easily recognised by the soldiers outside), go past Casablanca Flowers, past Tello Chocolates & Gifts (all on the left side). Just past No.95 is a small street named Mahmoud Antar (3) Alley. Turn left into this and then right into Abdul Karim Razzooq St and the cemetery is about 150 - 200 metres along here. All the streets are signposted.

    leyle

    WWI Australian graves
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    Salihiyya - Mosque & Mausoleum of Mohi al-Din

    by MM212 Updated Feb 17, 2010

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    Located in Salihiyya Quarter, this early Ottoman mosque was built in the 16th century in a mix of Ottoman, Mamluke and Syrian styles. Attached to the mosque is the Mausoleum of Mohi al-Din ibn al-Arabi, a famous 12th century Sufi mystic who was born in Andalusia. He was one of the early founders of Sufism and his tomb continues to be a pilgrimage site to this day. Attached are photos of the mosque and mausoleum. Notice the recycled Corinthian columns in the mosque's hypostyle prayer hall.

    Tomb (Dec 06) Courtyard & Minaret of Mosque Mohi al-Din Interior of Mosque Mohi al-Din (Dec 06) Dome of the mausoleum
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    Abu Roummaneh

    by MM212 Updated Apr 25, 2008

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    For a different experience when visiting Damascus, jump in a taxi one afternoon and ask the driver to take you to Abu Roummaneh. It is a high end residential neighbourhood with numerous European clothing shops (e.g. Benetton and Morgan), cafés and restaurants. The neighbourhood's location closer to Jabal Qassioun ensures strategic views of the mountain and its hanging suburbs. If the weather is nice, some cafés offer outdoor seating where you could see and be seen by some Damascene bourgeoisie. Attached are some photos of the neighbourhood.

    Damascene Bourgeoisie at outdoor caf�� View of Mt Qassioun from Abu Roummaneh

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    A great view of Damascus

    by sanluipal Written Aug 19, 2007

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    I had no ideia how big was Damascus until visit Jebel Qassioun, the "mountain" right behind Damascus. We went in a taxi and stopped near a coffee shop. It`s amazing the view. Don´t leave Damascus without visit it.

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    Khans

    by iwys Updated Apr 15, 2007

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    If you walk through one of the old gateways leading off Souq al-Hamidyya or Straight Street, you will probably find yourself in a small courtyard of one of the old khans or caravanserai. Most of them were built by Ottoman merchants in the 18th century. These include Khan as-Zeit, Khan Suleiman Pasha and Khan Jakmak.

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    Daytrips from Damascus

    by MM212 Updated Mar 20, 2007

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    There are many destinations outside of Damascus that one could (must) visit when in Damascus. The options are plenty, but some can be done in a day, others require an overnight stay. Examples include Ma'aloula, Sednaya, Bosra, Palmyra, Krak des Chevaliers, and of course, glorious Beirut, among many others. Public transportation is available between Damascus and these destinations, though the best way to travel is with a local driver. If you feel like some adventure, renting a car and driving yourself is also an option (buy a road map in advance!). Attached are photos of the scenic arid and mountainous countryside surrounding Damascus

    Landscape near Damascus (Dec 06) Anti-Lebanon Mountains (Dec 06) Dec 2006 Damascus-Homs Motorway (Dec 06) Near Zabadani (March 08)
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    Salihiyya Quarter

    by MM212 Updated Feb 13, 2007

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    Located at the foothills of Mount Qassioun, the Salihiyya neighbourhood was built in the 12th century to house refugees escaping the Crusader invasion of Jerusalem. It later provided refuge to other escaping minorities, such as Kurds and Cretan Moslems. What started as a small village outside Damascus evolved into an old city with architecturally notable madrassas, mausoleums and mosques from the 12th to the 14th centuries. The expansion of modern Damascus has made Salihiyya a mere neighbourhood in the large metropolitan city. If you are in Damascus for a few days, it is worth taking this diversion to see another "Old Damascus" with narrow alleys, a smaller local souk, and impressive architecture. Attached are photos of Salihiya.

    al-Maridaniya Mosque (13th century) Old Mosque Alley Mausoleums of Madrassa al-Jarkasiyya al-Jameh al-Jadid (14th century Mosque)
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Damascus Off The Beaten Path

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