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Damascus is the capital of Syria and after Aleppo it is the biggest city in the country with slightly less than 2 million people living here. It is located in the southwest of the country not far from the border with Jordan. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Although the largest part of the city is rather chaotic with much traffic and not much of interest for travellers, the old part of the city is a great place exploring on foot. The medina (souq) is a colourful place to visit and the old city has several quarter like the Christian quarter. Centrepiece is the Umayyad Mosque, also known as the Grand Mosque of Damascus. It is one of the largest mosques in the world, and one of the oldest sites of continuous prayer since the rise of Islam. Damascus deserves at least a few days before exploring the rest of the cultural highlights of Syria.
Kicking off the Syrian events calendar in April is the National Independence day. Traditionally this day is marked with great displays of national unity and pride. Parades are held in most of the major city centers, locals fly the Syrian flag on high and national songs can be heard coming from homes and local stores around the country. Since the outbreak of the civil war, however, all festivities seem to have cooled down considerably.
Followers of the Islamic faith make up 87 percent of the Syrian population which means that Islamic holidays in the country are a big deal. One of the most well known events is Eid al-Fitr which takes place in August every year. Eid marks the end of the month of fasting during the holy month of Ramadan. The event is characterized by family and friends gathering for a great feast, the exchanging of gifts, the wearing of new clothes and of course, attending mosque.
Held in Damascus every September, the Arabic Book fair is newly incepted but has proved to be quite popular. The fair’s main aim is to promote Arabic literature and showcase local writers, both established and up-and-coming. Many international authors are also showcased in this event. The festival includes many events including book launches, signings, and discussions with the authors.
Also in September is the Silk Road Festival, an interesting event which aims to celebrate and commemorate the diversity and unity of Syria’s many nationalities. The capital city, Damascus is taken on a journey into the past and transformed into what it once looked like when it was a meeting place for Silk Road caverns. The festival also reaches other cities which are bathed in vibrant colors and host many cultural activities.
Another Islamic holiday, this time held in October, is the Feast of the sacrifice. An important in Islamic country’s world wide, this festival lasts for two-to-three days and commemorates the decision of Ibrahim to sacrifice his first-born son to God. Locals slaughter a sheep to this effect and together, as families and friends, hold great feasts all over the region.
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Damascus International Airport (DAM) is the main gateway to Syria. Syria Air operates both international as well as a few domestic flights. Destinations include quite a few cities in Europe, as well as the Middle East and parts of Africa and Asia. Domestic flights are not used that often, because distances are small.
Transport to central Damascus is offered by a taxi company. A private bus company also offers service between the airport and Baramkeh in central Damascus.
Syria - Jordan vv
A twice weekly train travel between Damascus, and the capital of Jordan, Amman. The train leaves both places on Mondays and Thursdays at 8 o'clock in the morning and take 9 hours to complete the schedule. Although slower than buses and shared taxis, this train ride comes as a welcome alternative for train fanatics.
Syria - Iran vv
There is a weekly train travelling from Damascus to Tehran, stopping in Aleppo in Syria and Tabriz in Iran along the way. Like the train from Istanbul to Tehran, the journey contains two stages, one to Lake Van and one from Lake Van onwards.
Taxis to Damascus are easy to arrange from Amman and the journey takes around 4 hours including the time spent crossing the border. Shared taxis leave when full or it's possible to pay more and leave when you want if there are less of you. Roads to and from Damascus also lead to the west and north of Syria and into Lebanon. Roads are generally in good condition.
There are buses in all directions, but to Syrian cities and towns, as well as into neighbouring countries and even a few countries further away.
|Al Majed Hotel||Damascus - Syria 29th May Street Assufara Cinema||Hotel||-|
|Beit Al Salam||42 mariam street, Bab Alsalam||Hostel||-|
|Damascus Rooms||29 Aiar Str||Hostel||-|
|Beit Alrhaman||Bagdad Street,Kazazen||Guesthouse||-|
|Agenor Boutique Hotel||Old Damascus Straight Street Via Recta||Hotel||-|
|Via Recta Hotel||Bab Sharki, Kassabeh No.2||Hotel||-|
|Jaafari Hotel Sayeda Zaynab||Jaafari Street - Sayeda Zaynab||Hotel||-|
|Damascus Hostel||Bab Touma Al Abbarah 2nd||Hostel||-|
|HANANIA BOUTIQUE HOTEL||Hanania Street Bab Sharqi (Eastern Gate)||Hotel||-|
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