World’s Oldest City

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I still remember when I was playing with my cousin and my father called me on our land line and I picked up the phone. I started shouting with joy and my mother and sister were shocked. My father told me that we will be going to Damascus in three days. It was very pleasant shock for me. My aunt lives there and this was a surprise by my father. My summer vacations were just started so I was mentally free and relaxed. We left for Karachi with a Pakistani airline. The flight was delayed as of the reputation of our airlines. We have to take Iran Air’s flight from Karachi so we were much tensed. We reached after an hour of our scheduled time. We rushed towards our flight and as soon as we reached there the plane flew. We reached Tehran in three hours. And we had to stay for three hours for the next flight. At that time there were no direct flights from Pakistan to Syria. We ate Persian Chalu Kabab and zarishk rice from Tehran International Airport. Kabab were made up of lamb meat and were made on coal flame. Zarish is a traditional food of Persia.

Belly Dancer in the open air Arabic restaurant

Belly Dancer in the open air Arabic restaurant

After spending three hours we moved to our new flight that took us to Syrian capital Damascus in five hours. It was a huge airport and its structure was like a massive tent. Our aunt was present there to receive us who took us to the new Damascus where she lives. After having some rest we planned to go out for the dinner. Our aunt and uncle took us to a traditional restaurant near their house. We tasted Arab food for the very first time. They cooked whole lamb on flames with minute spices. They cut lamb and put boiled rice in it and then sew it to serve. The interior was very catchy. We sat on hand made carpets. It was an open air restaurant and I enjoyed a lot. While we were eating a belly dancer was dancing in the middle of the restaurant.

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Out side Bab Ul Saghir in Damascus.

Second day we planned to visit wall city of Damascus. Damascus is said to be the world’s most ancient city ever developed. Those remains of pre Christ era are still there. All of the religions have some sort of affiliation with Damascus. Ancient area is still extremely beautiful. Unlike wall city of Lahore they preserved almost every bit of it. There was very pleasing light effect which they used. Even the street lights of inner Damascus took us to a whole new world. Damascus is believed to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the known world and the Umayyad mosque stands on a site that has been considered sacred ground from at least three thousand years. We visited Umayyad mosque which was synagogue and church before respectively. There was a tomb of Prophet Yahiya in the mosque. The Umayyad mosque is still one of the most impressive sites in the Islamic world, with a grand courtyard and specious prayer hall. Some of the original eight’s century mosaics still remain on the north outer space of the transept, under the gable, on the arcades and the back of west portico and on the arches of vestibule. They minarets date from the time of Al Waleed with some reconstruction around 1340 and 1488. The minaret in the south eastern corner is called the minaret of Jesus because of a tradition that this is where Jesus will appear before day of judgment. The upper portion of the ceiling was made up of gold foil. It had huge ceiling with so many pillars. There were marvelous wooden work and carving on the walls and doors. The main gate of the mosque is still made up of silver and wood which is supposed to be thousand year ago. Upper portion of pillars had gold coverings, chandeliers of primitive Arab style gave the royal effect if the place.

Soq al Hamidia

Soq al Hamidia

We visited a church and a synagogue in the old Damascus as well because majority of the population of Damascus was of Christians and Jews. We also visited the tomb of prophet’s granddaughter and daughter of lady Fatima and Ali , Zainab in the nearby area of Damascus. Her shrine’s tomb was made up of pure gold. Our aunt told us about the prestige and the holiness of that place.

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Traditional Syrian Swarma

We also visited the hill stations near Damascus. We enjoyed hiking there as well. Long range of mountain was looking epic at the sunset till the border of Lebanon. The tomb of Prophet Adam’s son, Abel was also there on the mountain. This was the first murder of human race.

We bought some Syrian antiques from the most famous market which they called souq ul hamidia and ate there tradition Shuwarama. One another worth watching place was chapel of Saint Paul in Damascus. It had biblical relation and a very sacred place for Christians.

We spend fifteen unforgettable days in Damascus.

Gold Plated walls of Ummayd  Mosque

Gold Plated walls of Ummayd Mosque

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4 responses »

  1. O how lucky! When did you go? Perhaps in good time. Now the security situation is so terrible. Its one of the places I really wish to go

    • i went there twice. first in august 2006 and then in 2009.
      i wish i could go there again. even my aunt had to leave syria due to the security situation 😦

      • You’re lucky to have seen it. To think all that history, that culture in ruins. Alleppo. And all for what? 😦

  2. Its sad what wars do to places with such rich history. I wish I could have been before this happened. 😦

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