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Welcome to Syria

A guide to middle east arab countries

Introduction

A journey across Syria is a journey of discovery in the world of history, art, culture, and human relations. It is often described as the Cradle of Civilizations, since many of the greatest human achievements that later spread to encompass the world had their beginnings in Ancient Syria, from the Taurus Mountains to Sinai and from the Mediterranean to the Euphrates.

Tolerance and hospitality, constitute the essence of the Arab character and help the visitor feel welcome in a country that strides itself to take care of its visitors.

A carpet shop in the old Bazar of Damascus

A carpet shop in the old Bazar of Damascus

Bosra, Syria

Bosra, Syria

Tadmur

Tadmur

Fast Facts

Official name: Syrian Arab Republic, Al-Jamhouriya al Arabia as-Souriya

Capital: Damascus

Population: 18.866.000

Location: It lies at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. Turkey is on the north, Iraq on the east and southeast, Jordan on the south, Palestine on the southeast, and Lebanon on the west.

Monetary Unit: Syrian Pound = 100 piasters

Language: Arabic is the official and most widely spoken language.

Religion: Sunni Muslim, Christian sects and other Islamic sects including Alawites and Druze.

Time difference: November through February: GMT + 2 Hours (Winter). March through October: GMT + 3 hours. (Summer).

Telephone: 00963

Electricity: 220 Volts, 50 A.C.

Tipping: Tips to your driver, guide and the hotel personnel are not included and left to your discretion.

Clothing: Conservative casual wear is suitable. Beachwear or shorts should not be worn away from the beach or poolside.

Opening hours: between 8 a.m and 2 p.m. Friday is the weekly holiday. Shops are open all day until 8 P.M in winter and 10 P.M in summer: some shops close for a few hours in the afternoon

Climate: Syria has a moderate Mediterranean climate, 4 distinct seasons, and cloudless blue skies for the greater part of the year. Temperatures in autumn and spring range between 20 and 25 degrees centigrade, 30 degrees in summer, and 5 to 10 degrees in winter.

Driving: it´s not advisable driving in Syria.

Taxi: In-town transport is made easy by taxi cabs. Yellow cabs in Damascus charge fares indicated by meters; in other cities fares are set by government departments.

Buses: Buses and bus transport around Syria, is by far the most convenient method of traveling. At the top end of the scale, bus service is offered by Pullman or Karnak bus companies. Microbuses and Service buses are more affordable, but a little less comfortable than the elite bus service companies. There are frequent stops and can be overbooked at times. Seating can become sporadic and buses can get crowded rather fast.However, this is an ideal way to meet the local people and witness there customs.

Palmyra

Palmyra

Ma'lula

Ma'lula

Hama

Hama

Aleppo old and new

Aleppo old and new

Places to visit

Damascus

There are seven gates in it:Bab Sharqi, Bab al-Jabieh, Bab Keissan, Bab al-Saghir, Bab Tuma, Bab al-Jeniq, and Bab al-Faradiss.
The Omayyad Mosque,this Great Mosque stands at the heart of the Old city at the end of Souq al-Hamidiyeh.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 and an impressive mosque in times of Al-Walid .The mosque has a large prayer hall and an enormous courtyard. The interior walls are covered with mosaic panels, made of coloured and gilded glass, portraying scenes from nature. The dome is greyich-blue, celebrated for its magnificence.The prayer hall contains domed shrine venerated by both Christians and Muslims, the tomb of St. John the Baptist.

Saladin's Tomb is next door to the north gate of the Omayyad Mosque.The whole interior is decorated with polychrome marble mosaics. The old covered souqs of Damascus have a unique flavour you can savor with eyes closed. As you walk about in the warm darkness of these streets with their fragrant scents, spices, and colourful merchandise spilling out of the shops onto the pavements, you enter the strange world of exotic legend. Most prominent of these are:Souq al-Hamidiyeh,Souq Midhat Pasha,Souq al-Harir and Souq Al-Bzourieh.

Zabadani and Bludan

North of Damascus, 1175 metres above sea-level,you arrive to the plain of Zabadani, a fertile land with throusands of fruit trees bearing delicious apples, cherries, plums, peaches, and pears. The source of the river Barada is in this plain and it supplies Damascus with water, and irrigates the Ghuta around the city.
The source of the river forms a little lake which is surrounded by cafes, restaurants, and play-grounds. Attracted by its fresh air and beautiful scenery, Damascenes rush to this resort on hot summer days.
Many Damascenes, however, prefer another nearby resort, Bludan, which spreads over the mountain overlooking Zabadani, at 1500 metres above sea-level,with plenty of hotels, restaurants and cafes cater to the needs of all visitors.

Ma'lula

This famous village is some 56 kilometres from Damascus, and is situated at an altitude of more than 1500 metres. Its little houses cling to the face of an enormous rock; they look suspended in mid-air. There are two monasteries here: Saint Sergius and Saint Taqla's. The inhabitants still speak Aramaic, the language spoken by Christ.Two neighbouring villages, Jaba'din and Naj'a also speak the same language. The word Ma'lula means "entrance" in Aramaic.

Seydnaya

Some 30 kilometres from Damascus, the village is spread out over a hilltop, and is surrounded by vineyards and olive groves.
It has a famous monastery founded in 547, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. The name of the village itself, "Seyda Naya" in Syriac means "Our Lady". The monastery contains a portrait of the Virgin believed to have been painted by St. Luke.

Hama

The city is 200 km to the north of Damascus and 60 km to the east of Banyas. It is a very ancient city, which has flourished continually since ancient times, and has known the successive civilizations of the Fertile Crescent. Hama is well known for its enormous waterwheels ("noriahs") on the Orontes, which are as old as Hama itself.

Citadel Qal'at al-Hosn,Crac de Chevaliers

The most famous medieval citadel in the world, Qal'at al-Hosn is 65 km west of Homs and 75 south-east of Tartus. It is 650 m above sea-level. It was built in order to control the so-called "Homs Gap", the gateway to Sryia. It was through this passage that Syria communicated with the Mediterranean.
Crac des Chevaliers was built on the site of a former castle erected by the emirs of Homs to accommodate Kurdish garrisons

Palmyra (Tadmor)

Palmyra lies 210 km northeast of Damascus and 155 km east of Homs.Rising from the sands, is one of the most graceful and splendid ancient sites in the East, for the glory and the greatness are still evident and fully years after its construction by the Arab Queen Zenobia,it remains one of most famous capitals of the ancient world. A tour among the ruins, which cover an area of 6 square kilometers, requires a full day in order to form an adequate idea of the beauty of the architecture which has remained. Worth visiting are the Baal temple, the Arch of Triumph, the amphitheatre, the baths, the "Straight Street", the Congress Council and the Cemeteries.

Bosra (Dara'a Province):

Located in the vast Hawran plain, some 145 km south of Damascus.It is an extremely ancient city ,which the most interesting part of the city today is the famous Roman theatre built in the second century A.C., with seats for 15 thousand spectators, and is considered one of the most beautiful and well preserved of Roman amphitheatres in the world.

Aleppo

This is the second capital of Syria (350 km north of Damascus), and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in history. The citadel,with its main parts: The throne room, the bathroom, the small mosque (Ibrahim's mosque), the great mosque built in 1213 whose square minaret is 21 m high and from which can be seen a splendid view. Inside the citadel there is a small museum that contains relics uncovered during restoration and reconstruction.

The souqs named after various crafts: hence, we find the souq of gold, the souq of copper, cotton.

Latakia is Syria's main sea-port on the Mediterranean (186 km southwest of Aleppo).It is well-provided with accommodation, and is well-placed as a base from which to explore the coastal regions of the country. There are beaches, mountains, archaeological sites and many relics of the Crusaders, all within a few hours from each other.

Things to do

This page is under construction.

Visa Requirements

A valid entry visa granted by the Syria Embassy or Consulate in the visitor's country of origin or residence. Where there is no Syrian mission in the passport holder's country, an entry visa may be issued by any other Syrian mission abroad, or at the point of entry to Syria. Groups of tourists of ten or more are granted a group visa gratis (free of charge) provided each member of the group be in possession of a valid passport. Visitors planning to spend more than 15 days in the country are required to apply to the security authorities for an extension of stay. Every visitor must exchange $100 at the border.

Tourist group more than ten persons are exempted from this exchange. Tourists who visit Syria more than once, within a period of two months are exempted from re-exchanging $100 for second time.

Every tourist must pay 100 SP as a departure airport tax.

Bills at all hotels are paid in hard Currency. Passports of visitors to Syria must not carry an 'Israeli' visa. Fees Charged for entry visas are subject to the principle of reciprocity with the country concerned. Visitors are not required to obtain an exit visa if their stay does not exceed a period of 15 days.

Where to Stay

This page is under construction.

Events

This page is under construction.

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