Founded in the 3rd millennium B.C., Damascus is one of the oldest cities in the Middle East. In the Middle Ages, it was the centre of a flourishing craft industry, specializing in swords and lace. The city has some 125 monuments from different periods of its history – one of the most spectacular is the 8th-century Great Mosque of the Umayyads, built on the site of an Assyrian sanctuary. In 1979, listed in UNESCO Heritage list.
Located in south-western Syria.
About Ancient City of Damascus
1. The city exhibits outstanding evidence of the civilizations which created it – Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Islamic. In particular, the Umayyad caliphate created Damascus as its capital, setting the scene for the city’s ongoing development as a living Muslim, Arab city, upon which each succeeding dynasty has left and continues to leave its mark.
2. Damascus testifies to the unique aesthetic achievement of the civilizations which created it. The Great Mosque is a masterpiece of Umayyad architecture, which together with other major monuments of different periods such as the Citadel, the Azem Palace, madrasas, khans, public baths and private residences demonstrates this achievement.
3. Damascus, as capital of the Umayyad caliphate – the first Islamic caliphate – was of key importance in the development of subsequent Arab cities. With its Great Mosque at the heart of an urban plan deriving from the Graeco-Roman grid, the city provided the exemplary model for the Arab Muslim world.
4. Historical and archaeological sources testify to origins in the third millennium BC, and Damascus is widely known as among the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world. The incomparable Great Mosque is a rare and extremely significant monument of the Umayyads. The present city walls, the Citadel, some mosques and tombs survive from the Medieval period, and a large part of the built heritage of the city including palaces and private houses dates from after the Ottoman conquest of the early 16th century.
5. The city is closely linked with important historical events, ideas, traditions, especially from the Islamic period. These have helped to shape the image of the city and impact of Islamic history and culture.
6. The Umayyad Great Mosque, also known as the Grand Mosque of Damascus, is one of the largest mosques in the world, and one of the oldest sites of continuous prayer since the rise of Islam. As such it constitutes an important cultural, social and artistic development.
Best Time to Visit
Damascus is an eternal city and worth a visit at any time of the year. Syrian summers are hot, and winters are mild but wet. Spring and fall are excellent seasons for a visit.