Top Ten Syrian Attractions

Top Ten Syrian Attractions

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       Syria is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest. The name Syria formerly comprised the entire region of the Levant, while the modern state encompasses the site of several ancient kingdoms and empires, including the Eblan civilization of the 3rd millennium BC. In the Islamic era, its capital city, Damascus, the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, was the seat of the Umayyad Caliphate and a provincial capital of the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt. The population of Syria is 74% Sunni Muslim, with a 12% Shia and Alawite Muslim population, 10% Christian and 3% Druze. Combined, some 86% of the Syrian population is Muslim, which largely includes Arabs and significant minorities of Kurds and Circassians, while some 10% are Christians, which mainly includes ethnic Assyrians, but also Arab Christians and Armenians. The ethnic minorities include Kurdish (9%), Assyrian/Syriac, Armenian, Turkmen and Circassian populations, while the majority is Arab (90%). The modern Syrian state was established as a French mandate and attained independence in April 1946, as a parliamentary republic. The post-independence period was tumultuous, and a large number of military coups and coup attempts shook the country in the period 1949–1970. Syria was under Emergency Law from 1962–2011, effectively suspending most constitutional protections for citizens, and its system of government is considered non-democratic. Bashar al-Assad is the current president, and was preceded by his father Hafez al-Assad, who was in office since 1971. Syria is currently facing massive protests as part of the Arab Spring.

  1. Ancient City of Damascus
    Ancient City of DamascusAncient City of Damascus1Ancient City of Damascus2Ancient City of Damascus3Ancient City of Damascus4Ancient City of Damascus5Ancient City of Damascus6Ancient City of Damascus7Ancient City of Damascus8
    Damascus, commonly known in Syria as Al Sham, and as the City of Jasmine, is the capital and the largest city of Syria and one of the country’s 14 governorates. The Damascus Governorate is ruled by a governor appointed by the Minister of Interior. Damascus is a major cultural and religious center of the Levant. The city has an estimated population of 4,211,000 (2009). Located in southwestern Syria, Damascus is the center of a large metropolitan area of 6 million people (2009). Geographically embedded on the eastern foothills of the Anti-Lebanon mountain range 80 kilometers (50 mi) inland from the eastern shore of the Mediterranean on a plateau, Damascus experiences a semi-arid climate due to the rain shadow effect. The Barada River flows through Damascus. First settled in the 2nd millennium BC, it was chosen as the capital of the Umayyad Caliphate from 661 to 750. After the victory of the Abbasid dynasty, the seat of Islamic power was moved to Baghdad. Damascus saw a political decline throughout the Abbasid era, only to regain significant importance in the Ayyubid and Mamluk periods. During Ottoman rule, the city decayed completely while maintaining a certain cultural prestige. Today, it is the seat of the central government and all of the government ministries. Damascus was chosen as the 2008 Arab Capital of Culture.
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  2. Ancient City of Aleppo
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           Aleppo is the largest city in Syria and the capital of Aleppo Governorate, the most populous Syrian governorate. With an official population of 2,301,570 (2005), expanding to over 2.5 million in the metropolitan area, it is also one of the largest cities in the Levant. For centuries, Aleppo was Greater Syria’s largest city and the Ottoman Empire’s 3rd, after Constantinople and Cairo. Although relatively close to Damascus in distance, Aleppo is distinct in identity, architecture and culture, all shaped by a markedly different history and geography. Aleppo is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world; it has been inhabited since perhaps as early as the 6th millennium BC. Excavations at Tell as-Sawda and Tell al-Ansari, just south of the old city of Aleppo, show that the area was occupied since at least the latter part of the 3rd millennium BC; and this is also when Aleppo is first mentioned in cuneiform tablets unearthed in Ebla and Mesopotamia, in which it is noted for its commercial and military proficiency. Such a long history is probably due to its being a strategic trading point midway between the Mediterranean Sea and Mesopotamia. The city’s significance in history has been its location at the end of the Silk Road, which passed through central Asia and Mesopotamia. When the Suez Canal was inaugurated in 1869, trade was diverted to sea and Aleppo began its slow decline. At the fall of the Ottoman Empire after WWI, Aleppo ceded its northern hinterland to modern Turkey, as well as the important railway connecting it to Mosul. Then in the 1940’s it lost its main access to the sea, Antioch and Alexandretta (Iskenderun), also to Turkey. Finally, the isolation of Syria in the past few decades further exacerbated the situation, although perhaps it is this very decline that has helped to preserve the old city of Aleppo, its mediaeval architecture and traditional heritage. Aleppo is now experiencing a noticeable revival and is slowly returning to the spotlight. It recently won the title of the “Islamic Capital of Culture 2006,” and has also witnessed a wave of successful restorations of its treasured monuments.
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  3. Site of Palmyra
    Site of PalmyraSite of Palmyra1Site of Palmyra2Site of Palmyra3Site of Palmyra4Site of Palmyra5
           Palmyra was an ancient city in Syria. In the age of antiquity, it was an important city of central Syria, located in an oasis 215 km northeast of Damascus and 180 km southwest of the Euphrates at Deir ez-Zor. It had long been a vital caravan city for travelers crossing the Syrian desert and was known as the Bride of the Desert. The earliest documented reference to the city by its Semitic name Tadmor, Tadmur or Tudmur (which means “the town that repels” in Amorite and “the indomitable town” in Aramaic) is recorded in Babylonian tablets found in Mari. Though the ancient site fell into disuse after the 16th century, it is still known as Tadmor in Arabic, and there is a newer town next to the ruins of the same name. The Palmyrenes constructed a series of large-scale monuments containing funerary art such as limestone slabs with human busts representing the deceased.
    Links: Top Ten Ancient Cities,,
  4. Ancient City of Bosra
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            Bosra, also known as Bostra, Busrana, Bozrah, Bozra, Busra Eski Şam, Busra ash-Sham, and Nova Trajana Bostra, is an ancient city administratively belonging to the Daraa Governorate in southern Syria.
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  5. Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din
    Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-DinCrac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din1Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din2Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din3Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din4Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din5
           Krak des Chevaliers is a Crusader castle in Syria and one of the most important preserved medieval military castles in the world. In Arabic, the fortress is called Qal’at al-Ḥiṣn, the word Krak coming from the Syriac karak, meaning fortress. It is located approximately 40 km west of the city of Homs, close to the border of Lebanon, and is administratively part of the Homs Governorate. The Citadel of Salah Ed-Din, once known as Saone and Saladin Castle, is a castle in Syria. It is located 30km east of Latakia, in high mountainous terrain, on a ridge between two deep ravines, surrounded by forest.
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  6. Ancient villages of Northern Syria

  7. Links: Top Ten Syrian Hotels, Top Ten Syrian Restaurants,,