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Syria Tours

Damascus Daily Tours
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Official Name

Syrian Arab Republic, divided into 14 governorates, Damascus its Capital.

Syria is situated in southwest Asia on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, and bounded by Iraq to the east, the Mediterranean & Lebanon to the west, Turkey to the north and Jordan & Palestine to the south.

Syria’s climate varies, as the weather and temperature changes and fluctuates from area to another. It is characterized by hot, dry summers and fairly cold winters. Nights are often cool in winter.

Area & Population
Area: 186,000 sq km
Population: around 17 Million inhabitants

Arabic is the mother tongue of the majority,
English is widely understood while French is still quite common among the older generation.

Time Zone
GMT + 2
GMT + 3 (from May to September)

Currency & Banking
• The monetary unit is the Syrian Pound (SYP) locally called " Lira ". Which is divided into 100 piasters.
- Coins are in denominations of: 1, 2, 5,10, 25
- Notes are in denominations of: 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1000.
• Foreign currencies & traveler checks can be easily exchanged at banks and some five stars hotels.
• Major Credit Cards are acceptable by International hotels, 4 stars hotels, many retailers like: “ Orientals, jewelry, fashion shops ”, restaurants, rent a car, travel agencies.

• Rail covering most of the country, and links go via Istanbul, Ankara and Iraq.
• Five Airports ( 3 international + 2 Local ).
• Two ports.
• Fifteen border centers with Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq and open for 24 hours a day.
• Taxis are colored yellow and available in all parts of the country.
• Modern Buses are available all over the country with regular journeys covering all of the main cities.
And the minibuses connecting towns & villages with the main cities are available all over the country.
• Rent a Car companies offer many new types of cars & vans.

220 volts AC, 50Hz. European-style 2-pin plugs.

• Public Telephone is available generally in the post offices all around Syria, The pay stations are available everywhere in the major cities, in coins & prepaid cards (SP 200 - 350 - 500 ), another kind of prepaid cards are available through any telephone line ( SP 200 - 450 - 750 ).
• Mobile telephone, GSM network in use covering almost all over Syria, you can use your own mobile line if it has the roaming option and if your mobile company has an agreement with one of the companies operating in Syria.
• Internet Services are available wildly in the post & telephone office, some hotels and the internet cafes.

Almost all over Syria you can drink directly from the water tap, however the mineral water is available everywhere in two size bottles.

Measurement System
Metric system is in use.

Business Time
• Governmental section: from 8:30 to 14:30
• Private Section: from 9:30 to 20:00 in winter / to 22:00 in summer
• Currency Changing Banks: from 8:30 to 18:00
• Siesta is common in Syria, so some shops close from 14:30 to 16:30
• Official Weekend is on Friday & Saturday,
Shops & Souqs closed on Friday but some private shops open on Friday and close on Sundays.

National Holidays :
01st Dec: New Year’s Day
08th Mar: Revolution Day
21st Mar: Mothers Day
17th Apr: Independence Day
01st May: Labour Day
06th May: Martyrs’ Day
06th Oct: October Liberation War
25th Nov: Christmas Day
*Eid al-Fitr: End of Ramadan fasting (3 days)
*Eid al Adha: Feast of the Sacrifice (4 days)
*Easter Day: Eastern and western church
*The Hegira: Islamic New Year
*Al Mauloed: Prophet’s Birthday
                                          * Muslim religious festivals and some Christian religious festivals
   has a change of timing each year according to local sightings.

There are many hotels covering all the country, this hotels are of varied categories from fairly low grade to luxurious 5 star and international. In addition to the furnished apartments wish we advise for a long stay.

Markets or Souqs as named in Arabic are many, as each city has its own Souqs, which has its special style, goods and name such as Jewelries Souq, Wool Souq, Handicrafts Souq in addition to the supermarkets; shopping centers s and the modern shops, so you can find all the goods that you heard about or you did not hear about, like textiles, handcrafts, oriental items, nuts, jewelry and modern clothes.
And note that the bargaining with the merchant is a normal thing, and many people enjoy doing that, but not in the modern shops with barcode system.

• There are many restaurants in each city, serving a variety of delicious Oriental and European dishes beside the Habulebaple. The fast food & take away restaurants are available in the main cities.
Also don’t forget to try the fresh fruit juice; but only from a special chosen shops.
• Table service is the norm and a meal is paid for afterwards, and usually meals are served late " lunch from 13:00 to 16:00 and dinner from 20:00 to 23:00 "

Cities & Sites
Damascus Omayyad Mosque Azem Palace Shrine of Saida Zeinab
Maaloula Sednaya Bosra Shahba “ Philippopolis”
Palmyra Mari Homs Crac Des Chevaliers
Hama Apamea Tartous Lattakia
Ugarit “ Ras Shamra” The Dead Cities St. Simeon Monastery Ebla
Aleppo Aleppo Citadel Maarat Al Numan Deir Ez-Zor

Damascus: Alt. 700 M
The oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, It's as old as history itself, they said in Damascus "She measures time not by days, months or years, but by the empires and civilizations she has seen rise and crumble to ruins. She is a type of immortality.

The oldest reference to the city was found in the Ebla tablets and confirms that Dameski was a great city during the third millennium B.C.; also reference ofwhich occurs in the Egyptian annals of the18thdynasty; but its history really

begins at the time of Solomon 940 B.C when it became the capital of anAramean kingdom, which organized resistance tothe Assyrian invasions;

The city was finally captured by Assyrians in the 8th century B.C, while in 612 B.C it came under the yoke of the Babylonians, and then of the Persians in 539 B.C. Damascus was captured by one of the generals of Alexander the Great in 333 B.C, and finally fell to the Seleucid’s, about 85 B.C, the Nabataeans took the city, but after 66 B.C, it formed part of the Roman province and prospered greatly.

Damascus is famous in the annals of Christianity as the place of the conversion of St. Paul.

In 36 A.D it opened its gates to the Arab after the death of the prophet. the Arab governorsoon declared his independence of Medina and during the period of hissuccessors, and announce the Omayyad Caliph,when it became the capital ofan empire which stretched from the Indus to the Pyrenees.; this glorious period of history of Damascus resulted in building of great splendor when it was the political and cultural center of early Islam.

The Abbasids, however moved the capital to Baghdad in 750 A.D, and almost ignored Damascus;The Crusaders failed to take the city in 1148 and in 1174 it passed to Saladin and his successors who initiated another great period in its history.

Pillaged twice by the Mongols in1260 and 1300 and sacked by Tamburlaines in 1400, the city’s prosperity once again declined.

In the 19th century Damascus became the home of the Arab nationalism and after 1914-1918 war it became the capital of Feisal’skingdom for a short time; In 1920 the French mandate began; then it’s terminated in1945 when Syria regained political independence and since then Damascus became thecapital of the Syrian Arab Republic.

In Damascus and countryside you can visit the National Museum - Handicrafts Souq - Souq Sl Hamidiyah - Omayyad Mosque - Azem Palace - Al Saydeah Roukayah- the Straight Street - St. Paul's Church - Anania’s Chapel - Damascus Gates and Wall - A'al Al Baiet Cemetery - Al Saydeah Zainab - Abel Tomb and Qasyun Mountain.

Omayyad Mosque
One of the most distinguished land marks in Damascus; It’s located At the end of the famous Souq Al Hamidiyah and in the heart of the Old city; It was built by the Omayyad Caliph Al Walid Ibn Abdul Malek in 705 A.D. when Damascus was the capital of the Arab Islamic Empire.

It was constructed on the site of what has always been a place of worship: first, a temple for Hadad, the Aramean god of the ancient Syrians three thousand years ago; then, a pagan temple (the temple of Jupiter the Damascene) during the Roman era. It was later turned into a church called John the Baptist when Christianity spread in the fourth century. Following the Islamic conquest in 635, Muslims and Christians agreed to partition it between them, and they began to perform their rituals side by side.

When al-Walid decided to erect an impressive Mosque suited to the grandeur of the Arab state "whose like was never built before, nor will ever be built after" as he is reported to have said he negotiated with the Christian community of Damascus, and undertook to construct a new church for them (St. John's) and allot several pieces of land for other churches, if they relinquished their right to their part of the Mosque. They agreed. It took ten years and eleven million gold dinars, as well as a huge number of masons, artists, builders, carpenters, marble-layers, and painters to complete. It became an architectural model for hundreds of mosques throughout the Islamic world.

A prominent feature of it are the three minarets built in different styles; with a huge dome called the Eagle dome, The prayer hall contains domed shrine venerated by both Christians and Muslims, the tomb of the Prophet Yahia / St. John the Baptist

Azem Palace:
Located in the heart of the old city near the Omayyad Mosque .it’s a true sample of the old Damascene traditional houses, it’s bulit by the Govrner of Damascus in the mid-eighteenth century. The palace has several buildings in two main parts Al Haramlek and Al Salamlek’; Al Haramelk if the private part for residence for family, as Al Salamlek is for guests & receptions. The palace now is the Museum of Arts and Popular Traditions.

Shrine of Saida Zeinab:
Located some 10 Km to the south of Damascus.
The interior is covered with decorations in silver and gold, ornate windows and lavish chandeliers. The shrine attracts hundreds of pilgrims daily from various countries, who come to pay tribute to the Prophet's grand-daughter, the daughter of the Imam Ali Ibn Abi Taleb.

Maaloula: Alt. 1600 M
56 Km North of Damascus, the mountainous village hewn in the rock, is one of the attractive villages of Syria, its picturesque houses piled up the lower slops of an escarpment rising sheer above the village and making an impressive fissure. The inhabitants still speak Aramaic; the lingua franca; the language that was spoken by Christ, there are two old important Christian sites, the Monastery of St. Sarkis " Sergius" and the Convent of St. Tecla " Thecla "

Sednaya: Alt. 1380 M
30 Km North of Damascus, situated in the Kalamon Mountains on an impressive rocky hill, it has an old important Monastery which was a very important place of pilgrimage, and houses a miraculous icon of St. Luke, as well as to the Byzantine architectural details which survived in the building. The Monastery was founded by the byzantine emperor Justinian 547 A.D, and damaged through wars and earthquakes, however it was rebuilt with additional buildings, which made the monastery a unique architectural site

Bosra: Alt. 800 M
“ Bashan of the bible and Nova Trajan of the Romans”
145 km South of Damascus, 40 km west of Daraa, was one of the leading Nabatean cities, and then an important capital of the Roman Empire in province of Arabia in 106 a.d. Beside the most well intact Roman theatre in the world, you can visit also the Roman residence and baths, city walls and gates, The Omari Mosque, the Cathedral and the Crypto Portico.

Shahba “ Philippopolis”
87 km south of Damascus, the birthplace of the Roman emperor Philip the Arab ( 244 - 249 ) who built Shahba according to Roman style and provided it with palaces, a temple, public bathes, arches, small theater and strong wall to protect the city. He named the city Philippopolis, many of its unique mosaics from 3rd century a.d.can be seen in the museums of Damascus and Shahba.

Palmyra Alt. 220 M
The city of queen Zenobia ( 267-272 a.d)
243 km North-east of Damascus and 150 km east of Homs, an oasis situated in the middle of nowhere, its strategic location made it an important assemblage in the old times for both people and trade, and center for a world spread trade network.
The Roman Emperor Aurelian himself led an expedition and took Zenobia as a prisoner to Rome, In the following year the Romans destroyed Palmyra and the city gradually became deserted.

Its long and rich history make Palmyra one of the great sites of the ancient world, through the impressive ruins and archeological sites, as well as to its sunrise and sunset times; The earliest surviving building is the Temple of Bel 32 A.D. The Great Colonnade, Triumphal Arch, Museum and the Necropolis .

125 km south east of Deir Ez-Zor, discovered in 1933, one of the important city-states of the 3rd & 2nd Millennium B.C. on the western bank of the Euphrates and was ruled by the tenth dynasty of Ur, Occupied by the Akkadians , Sumerians, Amorites ; and was destroyed in about 1760 B.C. by Hammurabi; the neighboring king.
an important discovery is the famous Zimri-Lim Palace, the Temple of Ishtar, the Temple of Ninni Zaza, and its Ziggurat.

160 km to the north of Damascus located in the central of Syria. Like Petra and Palmyra, Homs was an Arab emirate in the 2nd century B.C. It still retains this position of importance today, as the oil pipelines pass through the city, Among the most significant historic constructions remaining in Homs is the mosque of Khaled ibn al-Walid, the great commander of the Muslim Arab armies.

Crac Des Chevaliers: Alt. 750 M
45 km west of Homs, it's the most famous medieval citadel in the world as was described by Lawrence of Arabia. It's situated on a strategic hill in control of the road from the Mediterranean to the inland covering an area of 3000 square meter. The fortress already existed when the Crusaders occupied the position in 1110, in 1142 it was given to the Knights Hospitallers who were responsible for creating the existing fortification; It resisted Saladin’s attempt of capture but finally capitulated in 1271 by Sultan Biabers .

Hama Alt. 1600 M
209 Km north of Damascus, is a very old city located in a central part of Syria, in the valley of the Orontes River, known for its famous water wheels " Norias " which were invented to irrigate the farms and fields, also it is worthwhile to visit the citadel, the Azem Palace, the old bathes & khans, and the new museum.

60 km north-west of Hama, was founded by the Seleucid Leader SeleucusNicatorat thebeginning of the 3rd century B.C. He gave the city the name of his Persian wife. It was one of the four main centers of the Seleucids in Syria, yet most of the discovered ruins date from Roman and Byzantine times, the most important features are the great colonnade, the theatre, the Roman Residences, the Byzantine churches, the ramparts, and the Turkish caravansary, which was converted to a museum of mosaics.

260 km to Damascus, located on the east Mediterranean coast, a very old city and an important seaport, is witnessing a growing trade movement; is famous for soft sand beaches; One of the most important archeological and tourist landmarks are: the museum, the remnants of ancient arc and towers, Arwad island, Al Marqeb Castle, Amrit, and also it’s famous by it countryside and mountains.

350 km to Damascus, .
Latakia is the main sea-gate to Syria. There are beaches, mountains, archaeological sites and many relics of the Crusaders, all within a few hours from each other.
In the Hellenistic period Seloukos , gave it the name of Laodicia Admare in honor of his mother; the Crusaders called it La Liche ; but there is virtually nothing to show from ancient history as not many ancient remains have survived in Latakia, but there are four columns and a Roman arch from the time of Septimus Severus (circa 200 A.D.), in addition to a beautiful Ottoman construction called "Khan al-Dukhan", which is now a museum.

Ugarit “ Ras Shamra”
16 km north of Latakia, an ancient kingdom that had a golden past in administration, education, diplomacy, law, religion and economics; between the 16th and 13th centuries B.C. It’s the kingdom that gave the world the first written Alphabet and the first musical notation dated to 1400 BC, and still preserved at Damascus National museum.

The Dead Cities :
Are Located in the northern part of Syrian between Hama and Aleppo; they are around 700 abandoned cities belonging to the period of the fifth century B.C and contain many remains of early Christian Byzantine architecture.
That cities flourished as they were located along major trade routes in the Byzantine Empire, however, the trade routes changed when the Arabs conquest and they lost their economic became weak, so the inhabitant in the end abandoned their towns and headed for other trade cities that were flourishing under the Arabs and the Uomayads.
The majority of the dead cities are very well preserved which exemplifies the grace and elegance of Syrian art in the early Christian period, Important dead cities include St. Simeon, Al Bara and Serjilla and you can see there: the Column, monasteries, villas, the pyramidal & underground tombs the Roman baths and the churches,

St. Simeon Monastery:
60 km north-west of Aleppo, it is the impressive church where Saint Simeon who made his residence on a platform atop a column of 18 m high and he lived on the top of a column for nearly 42 years surrounded by pilgrims, to teach people the tenets of their religion and become a figure of reverence attracting pilgrims from all parts of the Byzantine Empire. After he died in this site in 459, the Emperor Zeno built the church in the same place. The remains of the column can still be seen in the middle of the main church.

Ebla 3500 - 1600 B.C:
60 km south of Aleppo, 25 km of Idlep, is the site of Ebla whose history takes us back to the third millennium B.C., For many centuries it became a capital city of an empire and an important power in northern Syria. After 1800 B.C. it began to decline and finally disappeared from history until the italian excavations started in the early sixties; then a great discovery was made, a library which contained about 16000 cuneiform and clay tablets recording an important period in the history of Syria of the 3rd millennium B.C.

Aleppo: Alt. 300 M
355 km north of Damascus, the second largest city in Syria, and one of the oldest cities in the world rich with the legacy of a past dating back to the third
millennium b.c.; incomparable wealth of historical sites, Since old times it has always been an important trade center, even Shakespeare was mindful of the far distant trade center, when he mentioned it in Macbeth and Othello.
it's well known for its covered souqs, the citadel, the museum, the Great mosque, the old bazaars & caravansaries.
Its national museum houses invaluable treasures from the Aramean and Assyrian periods with Ugaritic finds from Ras Shamra and superlative ancient works of art . It’s renowned for its covered souks extending for 12kms . And its 40 Khans ( caravansaries ) each being a center for a specific trade industry; the most spectacular is the Aleppo Citadel in the heart of the city surrounded by an impressive wide and deep moat; Also the Grand Mosque with its lovely facade and minaret and the generally well preserved ancient city walls with their five gates still in use .

Aleppo Citadel:
Is one of the most famous castles in the world, It is a large medieval fortified palace located in the centre of the old city of Aleppo and raised around 50m above the city; a ring of crenellated walls and towers rises from a steep glacis, encircling a mass of ruins from every period.
It was built in the days of Sayf al-Dawla al-Hamadani, on the remains of earlier civilizations; and It always has been extremely important; both strategically and militarily.
The citadel's fortified entrance is a marvelous example of Arab military architecture; on the north and south sides, great towers rise above the moat; this moat, 20m deep and 30m wide, emphasizes the fortress's proud isolation.
The main parts of the citadel are: the Throne Room, the Bathroom, the Small Mosque ( Masjed Ibrahim ), the Great Mosque and the small museum that contains relics uncovered during restoration and reconstruction.

Maarat Al Numan:
Located in the north western part of Syria between Hama ( 60 km ) & Aleppo (84 km) , and it is quite interesting for its Islamic historical sites and monuments, such as Khan Murad Basha which built as an Ottoman khan in 1563, now it became the museum of Al Maara; this museum contain many artifacts including a fantastic collection of Roman and Byzantine mosaics from this town and form the neighboring sites of the Dead Cities, other monuments are: “ Al Maara Castle - the Great Mosque - Al Madrassa Al Nourieh - Al Nabi Sheett “ Prophet Seth was the third son of Adam and Eve “ - the Tomb of Al Khalifah Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz and the tomb of the Famus Arabic poet Abu Alaa Al Maari.

Deir Ez-Zor: Alt. 243 M
458 km north east of Damascus, along the banks of the Euphrates there are fields, orchards, woods and the city which was founded since a very long time and bears many archaeological sites, in addition to the river the city is famous for its old suspended bridge and museum.