Syria – Nation Where History Comes Alive
Syria, located in Western Asia, has a rich historical heritage, probably the best in the Arab world. Its castles, museums, mosques and archaeological sites enliven the past’s glory all over again.
Excavations have traced Syria’s history back to 3000 B.C when it was ruled by the Semitics. It was also occupied by Canaanites, Arameans, Phoenicians, Egyptians, Sumerians, Babylonians, Assyrians and Hittities during the 2nd millennium B.C. By the coming of the 1st century A.D, even the Persians, Macedonians and Romans had ruled this land. Syria holds a significant place in Christianity’s history because Saul of Tarsus got converted into Apostle Paul on a road leading towards Damascus. Islamic rule of Syria began from the 7th century A.D when it was ruled by the Umayyad dynasty. The Mongols and the Ottomans were its rulers between the 12th and 20th centuries. It got independence in 1946 but has since been entangled in wars with Israel over disputed territories and peace is yet to be found.
Popular Places and Attractions
There are several interesting places to explore in Syrian cities. Damascus’ old city and its surrounding Roman wall is a huge attraction. The Umayyad Mosque is considered to be a Muslim architectural masterpiece for its original minarets and gorgeous mosaics. Damascus’ National Museum used to be a military camp in ancient days. The museum contains rich exhibits of 14th century B.C written cylinders, Damascene weapons, terracotta statues, marble halls and ancient surgical instruments as well.
The Dead Cities of Serjilla and Al Bara are popular amongst tourists for their pyramidal tombs and grand archways. But, the greatest Syrian attractions would have to be Palmyra and Apamea. Palmyra contains magnificent ruins of an ancient Roman city located right at the centre of Syria’s desert. It contains ruins of the Hypogeum of Three Brothers, Valley of Tombs, Monumental Arch and Great Bel Temple. It also features in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Apamea contains Roman city ruins in the form of long streets and twisted columns.
Planes, trains, buses, taxis, service buses, microbuses and car and bike rentals are the available means of transport in Syria. These are relatively inexpensive and prove to a comfortable guide to carry you along and around Syrian cities.
Places for Entertainment
Restaurants, bars, cafes, theatres, pubs, clubs, cinemas and shopping centres are the usual places for entertainment in Syria. Most of the coffeehouses are filled with nargileh puffing enthusiasts. Classical-music recitals and professional storytelling arrangements are made at many of these venues. Damascus, Aleppo, Palmyra and Lattakia also hold several interesting festivals all round the year. The Souq-al Hamadiyyeh market of Damascus is a happening destination with its cobbled streets and bustling crowds. Similarly Aleppo’s souqs take you to a different world altogether with their sweet scents of cloves and cardamom making them a nice play to understand Syrian culture.
Luxurious hotels, campsites, budget hotels, rooftop accommodation, youth hostels and B&B’s (bed and breakfast) are available for looking after tourist accommodation requirements.
The official currency of Syria is the Syrian Pound (SYP). Currency exchange services are provided by Syria’s Commercial Bank which has branches in most of the main towns. Local news publications can be seen for knowing the latest exchange rates. Acceptability of credit cards, U.S Dollar and traveller’s cheques is limited.
Group accommodation in Syria | Cheap Hotels