Ironically, the Citadel of Damascus does not occupy as commanding a presence as one might expect. The densely populated old town, with its compact souqs and the importance of its religious sites (chief among them the Umayyad Mosque) dwarf (figuratively) the main defense of the old city. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the only reason why it occupies a secondary place in the tourist trail of the city is likely because of the extensive reconstruction that it was undergoing up to 2011. It is unclear what sort of damage it might face through the course of the civil war, but whatever repair works were underway have now likely been abandoned. The citadel was first fortified by the Turkish invaders of the city in the 11th century, but subsequent rulers have sought to maintain and increase the protected area within its walls. This was made into the ruler’s quarters by Saladin upon his capture of the city, and the following waves of sackers and occupiers complied with the tradition of first destroying part of the citadel and then rebuilding it once the subjugation of Damascus was complete. Indeed, even the French used the citadel as their base, and it was not converted to purely civilian use until after the country’s independence. The citadel stands on the northern edge of the old city, which is perhaps why it seems to have a life of its own apart from the old souqs and mosques. When wandering north from the Umayyad mosque, its tall towers and grey stone walls are likely to dominate your view, but it is hardly visible from other parts of the old city, as if a hidden tribute to the necessary function of defense.
Environmental Park is obviously an attempt by the authorities of the city of Damascus to create spaces that are both green and attractive to the more affluent of the city’s residents and visitors. With wonderful views of the city’s citadel, it includes a small café with tables outdoors, as well as a number of small garden areas. It takes advantage of the running water of the Barada River, although the river’s sound is far more appealing than its garbage-laden water. The presence of the cramped houses nearby does help to give local colour, although I’m not entirely sure that they project the same peaceful, soothing image intended by whoever created the park.
The Citadel is easily recognisable with its massive walls. Unfortunately it was not open for visitors as a major ongoing restoration project is taking place.
There are 7 gates (bab)
If you walk outside the old city, there are some areas where the original walls are still visible, like between Bab as-Salaama and Bab Thouma.
The Damascus Citadel is located in the north west corner of the old city and lies on the location where the Roman Castrum (military camp) once existed. It is thought that the site was used as a military camp in pre-Roman times and continued well afterwards. However, the actual Citadel was not built until around 10th-11th century when fortifying the city against Crusader invasions was necessary. Later during successive Mongol invasions, the citadel was almost completely destroyed, but was restored after each invasion, most recently under the Mamlukes. During Ottoman rule, the citadel was neglected and left to decay, but for periods it was used as a prison. It is now closed for excavation and restoration works with the hopes of opening to visitors sometime in the future.
Passing by The Citadel in Damascus but it's was in a state of renovation.
Damascus is one of the oldest cities in the world & there have been many buildings upon buildings lie on top of one another all through the centuries !
Well, this citadel, or at least its walls, are not as impressive as the ones in Aleppo, basically because they don't stand upon a mound. The architecture is also less striking - well, it's of different origin, after all. The Romans built it, and made it kind of plain. However what really impressed me is the strenght of these walls - they really seem unbreachable. If you follow them for a while you can find some interesting doors (bab as-salaama, bab touma): my suggestion is to visit its perimeter at night. When Damascus traffic quietens down, and relative silence settles in, those walls really do show their charm. It's not possible to visit the citadel inside, which is not a bad idea: Aleppo's citadel is an empty shell - this one at least does not cheat about its no-content.
From what I could see there was little of the citadel to be seen apart from an impressive stone wall and a tower.
It is beside the Humaidiya market and near the Omayyad Mosque.
The original Roman fort that stood here was strengthened during the 13th century to resist Crusader attacks.
When I was there the Citadel was closed, but the area surrounding it is nice as you start to find yourself in modern Damascus. The statue in front of the citadel is of Salah ad-Din.