The ‘City of Jasmine’ and the ancient capital of Syria
Damascus is the fascinating ancient capital of Syria and is famous as the location of the Umayyad mosque, one of the largest and oldest mosques in the world. The mosque has great architectural importance as well as its religious significance. A shrine is located here containing the head of John the Baptist, who is recognised as a prophet in both Christianity and Islam. The mosque also contains the tomb of Saladin, a notable historic figure, particularly in Islamic culture. As arguably the world's oldest continuously inhabited city, Damascus presents a huge array of architectural styles and historical sites as well as some fantastic lively marketplaces, or souks, where locals and visiting traders have bought and sold their wares for hundreds of years.
As arguably the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, Damascus has an unimaginably long history, so for history buffs Damascus is a truly remarkable place to visit. Ancient Roman walls and incredible temples of worship make fascinating viewing, and the exciting souks are a wonderful place to immerse yourself in the local culture.
When to Go?
Summertime in Damascus is hot and dry with temperatures reaching well into their 30s between June and September. Winter temperatures are very mild, with December and January being the coldest months. Damascus has a semi-current climate with very little rainfall throughout the year, so there is never particularly a ‘bad time’ to visit, although as it is an Islamic country, you should take care to respect local traditions such as that of Ramadan.
How to get there?
Direct flights to Damascus International Airport depart from London Heathrow with British Airways and Syrian Air. Indirect Damascus flights are available with several other airlines including Emirates, Air France and KLM via their main bases of operation Dubai, Paris, Amsterdam respectively. These flights give you the option of departing from a local airport such as Bristol, Edinburgh and Aberdeen (Air France), Newcastle, Birmingham and Glasgow (Emirates) or Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester (KLM).
The most noted historical attraction is the Umayyad mosque, which was completed in the eighth century. The old city walls feature a number of historically important city gates, some dating back to Roman times. The National Museum of Damascus holds exhibits artefacts from all the different periods of Damascus’ long history. Spend some time among the locals in one of the many Arabic coffee houses where coffee and tea are served along with hookahs, the traditional tobacco smoking pipes. One of the oldest parts of old Damascus is the ‘Street Called Straight’, which was built by the Romans and has several references in the Bible.