Syria has many historical and impressive cities, each offering something a little different to the last. Damascus is the capital and largest city, and is very old, having been established between 10,000 and 8,000 BC. It is actually the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world.
The old city, which is walled, is full of narrow streets and intrigue at every turn. Visitors will find ruins of Roman temples and Greek temples, such as the columns from a Roman temple at the entrance to the souq. The souq itself is an interesting visit – many different goods are sold in the undercover avenue which has lots of smaller alleys running off it. At one end is the Umayyad Mosque – formed originally from a Greek temple, it then became a Roman temple, then a church, then a mosque, then a church and mosque at the same time, and finally back to a mosque.
Other attractions in Damascus include the Citadel, the Mausoleum of Salah al-Din, and the view over the city from nearby Mount Qasioun.
Aleppo is the second largest city in Syria and is best known for the Aleppo Citadel. This large citadel is situated on a hill and dates back to the 13th century. Aleppo also has a large souq for shopping in; just about everything you could want can be found in here, and many mosques such as the Great Mosque.
Krak des Chevaliers
Krak, or Crac, des Chevaliers is a Crusader castle, and one of the best preserved of its kind in the world. Meaning Castle of the Knights, this is one of Syria’s top tourist destinations. Visitors can tour fairly freely around the castle, though a torch (flashlight) is recommended for the darker spots!
Palmyra is the top tourist attraction in Syria. Situated in the middle of the desert it seemed an unlikely place for the Romans to build a city, but there is a huge oasis here, full of date palms, and it is this that the city is named after – Palmyra means date palm.
The immense Roman city features arches, columns and more, whilst a short distance away on the top of a hill is an Arab built castle.
The Dead Cities
Syria’s Dead Cities are so called because they have been long abandoned, but they are amongst the favourite stops for tourists touring Syria. These are Roman and early Christian towns, situated in Northern Syria, and feature pyramidal tombs and more.