Damascus

Damascus

Overview
Damascus commonly known in Syria as Al Sham ( ), and as the City of Jasmine
Jasmine
Jasminum , commonly known as jasmines, is a genus of shrubs and vines in the olive family . It contains around 200 species native to tropical and warm temperate regions of the Old World...

( ), is the capital and the second largest city of Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , 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....

 after Aleppo
Aleppo
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 , expanding to over 2.5 million in the metropolitan area, it is also one of the largest cities in the Levant...

, both are part of the country's 14 governorates
Governorates of Syria
Syria has fourteen governorates, or muhafazat . The governorates are divided into sixty districts, or manatiq , which are further divided into subdistricts, or nawahi...

. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major cultural and religious center of the Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

. The city has an estimated population of 1,711,000 (2009 est.).

Located in southwestern Syria, Damascus is the center of a large metropolitan area of 2.4 million people (2004).
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Timeline

1401   Turko-Mongol emperor Timur sacks Damascus.

1759   An earthquake hits the Mediterranean destroying Beirut and Damascus and killing 30,000-40,000.

1918   World War I: Arab forces under T. E. Lawrence (a/k/a "Lawrence of Arabia") capture Damascus.

1920   France captures Damascus.

1961   A military coup in Damascus effectively ends the United Arab Republic, the union between Egypt and Syria.

 
Encyclopedia
Damascus commonly known in Syria as Al Sham ( ), and as the City of Jasmine
Jasmine
Jasminum , commonly known as jasmines, is a genus of shrubs and vines in the olive family . It contains around 200 species native to tropical and warm temperate regions of the Old World...

( ), is the capital and the second largest city of Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , 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....

 after Aleppo
Aleppo
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 , expanding to over 2.5 million in the metropolitan area, it is also one of the largest cities in the Levant...

, both are part of the country's 14 governorates
Governorates of Syria
Syria has fourteen governorates, or muhafazat . The governorates are divided into sixty districts, or manatiq , which are further divided into subdistricts, or nawahi...

. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major cultural and religious center of the Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

. The city has an estimated population of 1,711,000 (2009 est.).

Located in southwestern Syria, Damascus is the center of a large metropolitan area of 2.4 million people (2004). Geographically embedded on the eastern foothills of the Anti-Lebanon
Anti-Lebanon
The Anti-Lebanon mountains is the Western name for the Eastern Lebanon Mountain Range , which are a southwest-northeast-trending mountain range between Syria and Lebanon. Its Western name comes from the Greek word for ‘opposite’. The majority of the mountain range lies in Syria. The border between...

 mountain range 80 kilometres (49.7 mi) inland from the eastern shore of the Mediterranean on a plateau 680 metres (2,231 ft) above sea-level, Damascus experiences a semi-arid climate due to the rain shadow effect. The Barada River
Barada
The Barada is the main river of Damascus, the capital city of Syria. It flows through the spring of `Ayn Fijah , about 27 km north west of Damascus in the Anti-Lebanon Mountains, but its source is Lake Barada, located at about 8 km from Zabadani...

 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
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

. Damascus saw a political decline throughout the Abbasid era, only to regain significant importance in the Ayyubid and Mamluk
Mamluk
A Mamluk was a soldier of slave origin, who were predominantly Cumans/Kipchaks The "mamluk phenomenon", as David Ayalon dubbed the creation of the specific warrior...

 periods. During Ottoman
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 rule, the city decayed completely while maintaining a certain cultural prestige. Today, it is the seat of the central government
Central government
A central government also known as a national government, union government and in federal states, the federal government, is the government at the level of the nation-state. The structure of central governments varies from institution to institution...

 and all of the government ministries
Ministry (government department)
A ministry is a specialised organisation responsible for a sector of government public administration, sometimes led by a minister or a senior public servant, that can have responsibility for one or more departments, agencies, bureaus, commissions or other smaller executive, advisory, managerial or...

. Damascus was chosen as the 2008 Arab Capital of Culture
2008 Arab Capital of Culture
The 2008 Arab Capital of Culture was chosen to be Damascus, Syria. The Arab Capital of Culture is an initiative undertaken by UNESCO, under the Cultural Capitals Program to promote and celebrate Arab culture and encourage cooperation in the Arab region...

.

Etymology



The name of Damascus first appeared in the geographical list of Thutmose III
Thutmose III
Thutmose III was the sixth Pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty. During the first twenty-two years of Thutmose's reign he was co-regent with his stepmother, Hatshepsut, who was named the pharaoh...

 as T-m-ś-q in the 15th century BC.
In Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

, the city is called دمشق الشام (Dimashq al-Shām), although this is often shortened to either Dimashq or al-Shām by the citizens of Damascus, of Syria and other Arab neighbors. Al-Shām is an Arabic term for north and for Syria (Syria—particularly historical Greater Syria
Greater Syria
Greater Syria , also known simply as Syria, is a term that denotes a region in the Near East bordering the Eastern Mediterranean Sea or the Levant....

—is called Bilād al-Shām—, "land of the north"—in Arabic.) The etymology
Etymology
Etymology is the study of the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time.For languages with a long written history, etymologists make use of texts in these languages and texts about the languages to gather knowledge about how words were used during...

 of the ancient name "T-m-ś-q" is uncertain, but it is suspected to be pre-Semitic
Semitic languages
The Semitic languages are a group of related languages whose living representatives are spoken by more than 270 million people across much of the Middle East, North Africa and the Horn of Africa...

. It is attested as in Akkadian
Akkadian language
Akkadian is an extinct Semitic language that was spoken in ancient Mesopotamia. The earliest attested Semitic language, it used the cuneiform writing system derived ultimately from ancient Sumerian, an unrelated language isolate...

, in Egyptian
Egyptian language
Egyptian is the oldest known indigenous language of Egypt and a branch of the Afroasiatic language family. Written records of the Egyptian language have been dated from about 3400 BC, making it one of the oldest recorded languages known. Egyptian was spoken until the late 17th century AD in the...

, in Old Aramaic
Aramaic language
Aramaic is a group of languages belonging to the Afroasiatic language phylum. The name of the language is based on the name of Aram, an ancient region in central Syria. Within this family, Aramaic belongs to the Semitic family, and more specifically, is a part of the Northwest Semitic subfamily,...

 and Dammeśeq in Biblical Hebrew
Biblical Hebrew language
Biblical Hebrew , also called Classical Hebrew , is the archaic form of the Hebrew language, a Canaanite Semitic language spoken in the area known as Canaan between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Biblical Hebrew is attested from about the 10th century BCE, and persisted through...

. The Akkadian spelling is found in the Amarna letters
Amarna letters
The Amarna letters are an archive of correspondence on clay tablets, mostly diplomatic, between the Egyptian administration and its representatives in Canaan and Amurru during the New Kingdom...

, from the 14th century BC. Later Aramaic
Aramaic language
Aramaic is a group of languages belonging to the Afroasiatic language phylum. The name of the language is based on the name of Aram, an ancient region in central Syria. Within this family, Aramaic belongs to the Semitic family, and more specifically, is a part of the Northwest Semitic subfamily,...

 spellings of the name often include an intrusive resh
Resh
Resh is the twentieth letter of many Semitic alphabets, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew and Arabic alphabet . Its sound value is one of a number of rhotic consonants: usually or , but also or in Hebrew....

(letter r), perhaps influenced by the root dr, meaning "dwelling". Thus, the Qumran
Qumran
Qumran is an archaeological site in the West Bank. It is located on a dry plateau about a mile inland from the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea, near the Israeli settlement and kibbutz of Kalia...

ic Darmeśeq , and Darmsûq in Syriac
Syriac language
Syriac is a dialect of Middle Aramaic that was once spoken across much of the Fertile Crescent. Having first appeared as a script in the 1st century AD after being spoken as an unwritten language for five centuries, Classical Syriac became a major literary language throughout the Middle East from...

. The English and Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 name of the city is "Damascus" which was imported from , which originated in Aramaic
Aramaic language
Aramaic is a group of languages belonging to the Afroasiatic language phylum. The name of the language is based on the name of Aram, an ancient region in central Syria. Within this family, Aramaic belongs to the Semitic family, and more specifically, is a part of the Northwest Semitic subfamily,...

: דרמשק; "a well-watered place".

Early settlement


Carbon-14
Carbon-14
Carbon-14, 14C, or radiocarbon, is a radioactive isotope of carbon with a nucleus containing 6 protons and 8 neutrons. Its presence in organic materials is the basis of the radiocarbon dating method pioneered by Willard Libby and colleagues , to date archaeological, geological, and hydrogeological...

 dating at Tell Ramad
Tell Ramad
Tell Ramad is a prehistoric, Neolithic tell at the foot of Mount Hermon, about southwest of Damascus in Syria. The tell was the site of a small village of , which was first settled in the late eighth millennium....

, on the outskirts of Damascus, suggests that the site may have been occupied since the second half of the seventh millennium BC, possibly around 6300 BC. However, evidence of settlement in the wider Barada basin dating back to 9000 BC exists, although no large-scale settlement was present within Damascus walls until the second millennium BC.

Damascus was part of the ancient province
Province
A province is a territorial unit, almost always an administrative division, within a country or state.-Etymology:The English word "province" is attested since about 1330 and derives from the 13th-century Old French "province," which itself comes from the Latin word "provincia," which referred to...

 of Amurru
Amurru
Amurru and Martu are names given in Akkadian and Sumerian texts to the god of the Amorite/Amurru people, often forming part of personal names. He is sometimes called Ilu Amurru . He was the patron god of the Mesopotamian city of Ninab, whose exact location is unknown.-Description:Amurru/Martu was...

 in the Hyksos
Hyksos
The Hyksos were an Asiatic people who took over the eastern Nile Delta during the twelfth dynasty, initiating the Second Intermediate Period of ancient Egypt....

 Kingdom, from 1720 to 1570 BC. Some of the earliest Egyptian
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

 records are from the 1350 BC Amarna letters
Amarna letters
The Amarna letters are an archive of correspondence on clay tablets, mostly diplomatic, between the Egyptian administration and its representatives in Canaan and Amurru during the New Kingdom...

, when Damascus-(called Dimasqu) was ruled by king Biryawaza
Biryawaza
Biryawaza was king of Damascus in the middle fourteenth century BC. In the Amarna letters, he was ordered by his Egyptian overlords to take armed action against Labaya's sons ....

. The Damascus region, as well as the rest of Syria, became a battleground circa 1260 BC, between the Hittites
Hittites
The Hittites were a Bronze Age people of Anatolia.They established a kingdom centered at Hattusa in north-central Anatolia c. the 18th century BC. The Hittite empire reached its height c...

 from the north and the Egyptians from the south, ending with a signed treaty between Hattusili
Hattusili III
Hattusili III was a king of the Hittite empire ca. 1267–1237 BC . He was the fourth and last son of Mursili II...

 and Ramsis II where the former handed over control of the Damascus area to Ramesses II
Ramesses II
Ramesses II , referred to as Ramesses the Great, was the third Egyptian pharaoh of the Nineteenth dynasty. He is often regarded as the greatest, most celebrated, and most powerful pharaoh of the Egyptian Empire...

 in 1259 BC. The arrival of the Sea Peoples
Sea Peoples
The Sea Peoples were a confederacy of seafaring raiders of the second millennium BC who sailed into the eastern Mediterranean, caused political unrest, and attempted to enter or control Egyptian territory during the late 19th dynasty and especially during year 8 of Ramesses III of the 20th Dynasty...

, around 1200 BC, marked the end of the Bronze Age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

 in the region and brought about new development of warfare. Damascus was only the peripheral part of this picture which mostly affected the larger population centers of ancient Syria. However, these events had contributed to the development of Damascus as a new influential center that emerged with the transition from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age
Iron Age
The Iron Age is the archaeological period generally occurring after the Bronze Age, marked by the prevalent use of iron. The early period of the age is characterized by the widespread use of iron or steel. The adoption of such material coincided with other changes in society, including differing...

.

Damascus is mentioned in Genesis 14:15 as existing at the time of the War of the Kings
Chedorlaomer
Chedorlaomer "a handful of sheaves", was a king of Elam according to the Hebrew Bible book of Genesis Chapter 14. He ruled fourteen years, from the East in southwestern Persia, occupying the regions east of the Jordan river, in the days of Abram...

. (However, the verse can also be understood to mean that Damascus existed when Genesis was written – by tradition around the 13th century BC, and several centuries later according to some scholars – regardless of whether Damascus existed at the time of the War of the Kings.) According to the 1st century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus in his twenty-one volume Antiquities of the Jews
Antiquities of the Jews
Antiquities of the Jews is a twenty volume historiographical work composed by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus in the thirteenth year of the reign of Roman emperor Flavius Domitian which was around 93 or 94 AD. Antiquities of the Jews contains an account of history of the Jewish people,...

, Damascus (along with Trachonitis
Trachonitis
Trachonitis was a region that once formed part of Herod Philip's tetrarchy. It now lies within the boundaries of modern Syria.It appears in the Bible only in the phrase tes Itouraias kai Trachbnitidos choras, literally, "of the Iturean and Trachonian region"...

), was founded by Uz
Uz (son of Aram)
According to the Table of nations of Genesis 10 in the Hebrew Bible, Uz is one of the sons of Aram, son of Shem. This makes him the great-grandson of Noah....

, the son of Aram
Aram, son of Shem
Aram is a son of Shem, according to the Table of Nations in Genesis 10 of the Hebrew Bible, and the father of Uz, Hul, Gether and Mash. The Book of Chronicles confirms Aram as one of Shem's sons, confirming Uz, Hul, Gether and Mash, as also on the list of Shem's descendants. Aram son of Shem is ...

. Elsewhere, he stated:

Nicolaus of Damascus
Nicolaus of Damascus
Nicolaus of Damascus was a Greek historian and philosopher who lived during the Augustan age of the Roman Empire. His name is derived from that of his birthplace, Damascus. He was born around 64 BC....

, in the fourth book of his History, says thus: "Abraham
Abraham
Abraham , whose birth name was Abram, is the eponym of the Abrahamic religions, among which are Judaism, Christianity and Islam...

 reigned at Damascus, being a foreigner, who came with an army out of the land above Babylon, called the land of the Chaldeans: but, after a long time, he got him up, and removed from that country also, with his people, and went into the land then called the land of Canaan, but now the land of Judea, and this when his posterity were become a multitude; as to which posterity of his, we relate their history in another work. Now the name of Abraham is even still famous in the country of Damascus; and there is shown a village named from him, The Habitation of Abraham.

Aram-Damascus



Damascus is not documented as an important city until the arrival of the Aramaeans
Aramaeans
The Aramaeans, also Arameans , were a Northwest Semitic semi-nomadic and pastoralist people who originated in what is now modern Syria during the Late Bronze Age and the Iron Age...

, Semitic
Semitic
In linguistics and ethnology, Semitic was first used to refer to a language family of largely Middle Eastern origin, now called the Semitic languages...

 people from Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

, in the 11th century BC. By the start of the 1st millennium BC, several Aramaic kingdoms were formed, as Aramaeans abandoned their nomadic lifestyle and formed federated tribal states. One of these kingdoms was Aram-Damascus, centered on its capital Damascus. The Aramaeans who entered the city without battle, adopted the name "Dimashqu" for their new home. Noticing the agricultural potential of the still-undeveloped and sparsely populated area, they established the water distribution system of Damascus by constructing canals and tunnels which maximized the efficiency of the river Barada. The same network was later improved by the Romans and the Umayyads, and still forms the basis of the water system of the old part of the city today. The Aramaeans initially turned Damascus into an outpost of a loose federation of Aramaean tribes, known as Aram-Zobah, based in the Beqaa Valley
Beqaa Valley
The Beqaa Valley is a fertile valley in east Lebanon. For the Romans, the Beqaa Valley was a major agricultural source, and today it remains Lebanon’s most important farming region...

.

The city would gain preeminence in southern Syria when Ezron, the claimant to Aram-Zobah's throne who was denied kingship of the federation, fled Beqaa and captured Damascus by force in 965 BC. Ezron overthrew the city's tribal governor and founded the independent entity of Aram-Damascus. As this new state expanded south, it prevented the Kingdom of Israel from spreading north and the two kingdoms soon clashed as they both sought to dominate trading hegemony in the east. Under Ezron's grandson, Ben-Hadad I
Ben-Hadad I
Ben-Hadad I was the king of Aram Damascus between 885 BCE and 865 BCE. He was the son of Tabrimmon and grandson of Hezion and a contemporary of Kings Baasha of Israel and Asa of Judah. Asa called on Ben-Hadad I to aid him in attacking northern Israel while Baasha was restricting access to...

 (880–841 BC), and his successor Hazael
Hazael
Hazael was a court official and later an Aramean king who is mentioned in the Bible. Under his reign, Aram-Damascus became an empire that ruled over large parts of Syria and Palestine....

, Damascus annexed Bashan
Bashan
Bashan or Basan is a biblical place first mentioned in , where it is said that Chedorlaomer and his confederates "smote the Rephaim in Ashteroth", where Og the king of Bashan had his residence. At the time of Israel's entrance into the Promised Land, Og came out against them, but was utterly routed...

 (modern-day Hauran
Hauran
Hauran, , also spelled Hawran or Houran, is a volcanic plateau, a geographic area and a people located in southwestern Syria and extending into the northwestern corner of Jordan. It gets its name from the Aramaic Hawran, meaning "cave land." In geographic and geomorphic terms, its boundaries...

 region), and went on the offensive with Israel. This conflict continued until the early 8th century BC when Ben-Hadad II was captured by Israel after unsuccessfully besieging Samaria
Sebastia, Nablus
Sebastia is a Palestinian village of over 4,500 inhabitants, located in the Nablus Governorate of the West Bank some 12 kilometers northwest of the city of Nablus. The village's total area is 4,810 dunums, the built up area of which comprises 150 dunums...

. As a result, he granted Israel trading rights in Damascus.

Another possible reason for the treaty between Aram-Damascus and Israel was the common threat of the Neo-Assyrian Empire which was attempting to expand into the Mediterranean coast. In 853 BC, King Hadadezer
Hadadezer
Hadadezer ; also known as Adad-Idri and possibly the same as Bar-Hadad II ; Ben-Hadad II , was the king of Aram Damascus at the time of the battle of Qarqar against the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III in 853 BCE. He and Irhuleni of Hamath led a coalition of eleven kings at Qarqar...

 of Damascus led a Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

ine coalition, that included forces from the northern Aram-Hamath kingdom and troops supplied by King Ahab of Israel, in the Battle of Qarqar
Battle of Qarqar
The Battle of Qarqar was fought in 853 BC when the army of Assyria led by king Shalmaneser III encountered an allied army of 12 kings at Qarqar led by Hadadezer of Damascus and King Ahab of Israel...

 against the Neo-Assyrian army. Aram-Damascus came out victorious, temporarily preventing the Assyrians from encroaching into Syria. However, after Hadadzezer was killed by his successor, Hazael II, the Levantine alliance collapsed. Aram-Damascus attempted to invade Israel, but was interrupted by the renewed Assyrian invasion. Hazael ordered a retreat to the walled part of Damascus while the Assyrians plundered the remainder of the kingdom. Unable to enter the city, they declared their supremacy in the Hauran and Beqa'a valleys.

By the 8th century BC, Damascus was practically engulfed by the Assyrians and entered a dark age. Nonetheless, it remained the economic and cultural center of the Near East as well as the Arameaen resistance. In 727, a revolt took place in the city, but was put down by Assyrian forces. After Assyria went on a wide-scale campaign of quelling revolts throughout Syria, Damascus became totally subjugated by their rule. A positive effect of this was stability for the city and benefits from the spice and incense trade with Arabia. However, Assyrian authority was dwindling by 609–605 BC, and Syria-Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

 was falling into the orbit of Pharaoh Necho II
Necho II
Necho II was a king of the Twenty-sixth dynasty of Egypt .Necho II is most likely the pharaoh mentioned in several books of the Bible . The Book of Kings states that Necho met King Josiah of the Kingdom of Judah at Megiddo and killed him...

's Egypt. In 572, all of Syria had been conquered by the Neo-Babylonians, but the status of Damascus under Babylon
Babylon
Babylon was an Akkadian city-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad...

 is relatively unknown.

Antiquity



Damascus was conquered by Alexander the Great. After the death of Alexander in 323 BC, Damascus became the site of a struggle between the Seleucid
Seleucid Empire
The Seleucid Empire was a Greek-Macedonian state that was created out of the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan.The Seleucid Empire was a major centre...

 and Ptolemaic
Ptolemaic dynasty
The Ptolemaic dynasty, was a Macedonian Greek royal family which ruled the Ptolemaic Empire in Egypt during the Hellenistic period. Their rule lasted for 275 years, from 305 BC to 30 BC...

 empires. The control of the city passed frequently from one empire to the other. Seleucus I Nicator
Seleucus I Nicator
Seleucus I was a Macedonian officer of Alexander the Great and one of the Diadochi. In the Wars of the Diadochi that took place after Alexander's death, Seleucus established the Seleucid dynasty and the Seleucid Empire...

, one of Alexander's generals, made Antioch
Antioch
Antioch on the Orontes was an ancient city on the eastern side of the Orontes River. It is near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey.Founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, Antioch eventually rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the...

 the capital of his vast empire, which led to the decline of Damascus' importance compared with new Seleucid cities such as Latakia
Latakia
Latakia, or Latakiyah , is the principal port city of Syria, as well as the capital of the Latakia Governorate. In addition to serving as a port, the city is a manufacturing center for surrounding agricultural towns and villages...

 in the north. Later, Demetrius III Philopator rebuilt the city according to the Greek hippodamian system and renamed it "Demetrias".

In 64 BC, the Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 general Pompey
Pompey
Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, also known as Pompey or Pompey the Great , was a military and political leader of the late Roman Republic...

 annexed the western part of Syria. The Romans occupied Damascus and subsequently incorporated it into the league of ten cities known as the Decapolis
Decapolis
The Decapolis was a group of ten cities on the eastern frontier of the Roman Empire in Judea and Syria. The ten cities were not an official league or political unit, but they were grouped together because of their language, culture, location, and political status...

 because it was considered such an important center of Greco-Roman culture. According to the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

, Saint Paul was on the road to Damascus when he received a vision of Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

, and as a result accepted him as the Messiah. In the year 37, Roman Emperor
Roman Emperor
The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman State during the imperial period . The Romans had no single term for the office although at any given time, a given title was associated with the emperor...

 Caligula
Caligula
Caligula , also known as Gaius, was Roman Emperor from 37 AD to 41 AD. Caligula was a member of the house of rulers conventionally known as the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Caligula's father Germanicus, the nephew and adopted son of Emperor Tiberius, was a very successful general and one of Rome's most...

 transferred Damascus to Nabataean control by decree. The Nabataean king Aretas IV Philopatris
Aretas IV Philopatris
Aretas IV Philopatris was the King of the Nabataeans from roughly 9 BC to AD 40.His full title, as given in the inscriptions, was "Aretas, King of the Nabataeans, Friend of his People." Being the most powerful neighbour of Judea, he frequently took part in the state affairs of that country, and was...

 ruled Damascus from his capital Petra
Petra
Petra is a historical and archaeological city in the Jordanian governorate of Ma'an that is famous for its rock cut architecture and water conduits system. Established sometime around the 6th century BC as the capital city of the Nabataeans, it is a symbol of Jordan as well as its most visited...

. However, around the year 106, Nabataea was conquered by the Romans, and Damascus returned to Roman control.

Damascus became a metropolis by the beginning of the 2nd century and in 222 it was upgraded to a colonia by the Emperor Septimius Severus
Septimius Severus
Septimius Severus , also known as Severus, was Roman Emperor from 193 to 211. Severus was born in Leptis Magna in the province of Africa. As a young man he advanced through the customary succession of offices under the reigns of Marcus Aurelius and Commodus. Severus seized power after the death of...

. During the Pax Romana
Pax Romana
Pax Romana was the long period of relative peace and minimal expansion by military force experienced by the Roman Empire in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. Since it was established by Caesar Augustus it is sometimes called Pax Augusta...

, Damascus and the Roman province of Syria in general began to prosper. Damascus's importance as a caravan city was evident with the trade routes from southern Arabia
Arabian Peninsula
The Arabian Peninsula is a land mass situated north-east of Africa. Also known as Arabia or the Arabian subcontinent, it is the world's largest peninsula and covers 3,237,500 km2...

, Palmyra
Palmyra
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 travellers crossing the Syrian desert...

, Petra
Petra
Petra is a historical and archaeological city in the Jordanian governorate of Ma'an that is famous for its rock cut architecture and water conduits system. Established sometime around the 6th century BC as the capital city of the Nabataeans, it is a symbol of Jordan as well as its most visited...

, and the silk routes from China all converging on it. The city satisfied the Roman demands for eastern luxuries.
Little remains of the architecture of the Romans, but the town planning of the old city did have a lasting effect. The Roman architects brought together the Greek and Aramaean foundations of the city and fused them into a new layout measuring approximately 1500 metres (4,921.3 ft) by 750 metres (2,460.6 ft), surrounded by a city wall. The city wall contained seven gates, but only the eastern gate (Bab Sharqi) remains from the Roman period. Roman Damascus lies mostly at depths of up to five meters (16.4 ft) below the modern city.

The old borough of Bab Tuma
Bab Tuma
Bab Tuma is a borough of Old Damascus in Syria, one of the gates inside the historical walls of the city, and a geographic landmark of Early Christianity...

 was developed at the end of the Roman/Byzantine era by the local Eastern Orthodox
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

 community. According to the Acts of the Apostles
Acts of the Apostles
The Acts of the Apostles , usually referred to simply as Acts, is the fifth book of the New Testament; Acts outlines the history of the Apostolic Age...

, Saint Paul and Saint Thomas
Thomas the Apostle
Thomas the Apostle, also called Doubting Thomas or Didymus was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He is best known for questioning Jesus' resurrection when first told of it, then proclaiming "My Lord and my God" on seeing Jesus in . He was perhaps the only Apostle who went outside the Roman...

 both lived in that neighborhood. Roman Catholic
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 historians also consider Bab Tuma to be the birthplace of several Popes such as John V
Pope John V
Pope John V was pope from July 685 to August 2, 686. John V was the first pope of the Byzantine Papacy allowed to be consecrated by the Byzantine emperor without prior consent, and the first in a line of ten consecutive popes of eastern origin...

 and Gregory III
Pope Gregory III
Pope Saint Gregory III was pope from 731 to 741. A Syrian by birth, he succeeded Gregory II in March 731. His pontificate, like that of his predecessor, was disturbed by the iconoclastic controversy in the Byzantine Empire, in which he vainly invoked the intervention of Charles Martel.Elected by...

.

Islamic Arab era



After most of the Syrian countryside was conquered by the Rashidun Caliphate
Rashidun Caliphate
The Rashidun Caliphate , comprising the first four caliphs in Islam's history, was founded after Muhammad's death in 632, Year 10 A.H.. At its height, the Caliphate extended from the Arabian Peninsula, to the Levant, Caucasus and North Africa in the west, to the Iranian highlands and Central Asia...

 during the reign of Caliph Umar
Umar
`Umar ibn al-Khattāb c. 2 November , was a leading companion and adviser to the Islamic prophet Muhammad who later became the second Muslim Caliph after Muhammad's death....

, Damascus itself was conquered by the Muslim-Arab general Khalid ibn al-Walid
Khalid ibn al-Walid
Khālid ibn al-Walīd also known as Sayf Allāh al-Maslūl , was a companion of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. He is noted for his military tactics and prowess, commanding the forces of Medina and those of his immediate successors of the Rashidun Caliphate; Abu Bakr and Umar...

 in September–August 635 CE. His army
Rashidun army
The Rashidun Caliphate Army or Rashidun army was the primary military body of the Rashidun Caliphate's armed forces during the Muslim conquests of the 7th century, serving alongside the Rashidun Navy...

 had previously attempted to capture the city in April 634, but without success. With Damascus now in Muslim-Arab hands, the Byzantines, alarmed at the loss of their most prestigious city in the Near East, had decided to wrest back control of it. Under Emperor Heraclius
Heraclius
Heraclius was Byzantine Emperor from 610 to 641.He was responsible for introducing Greek as the empire's official language. His rise to power began in 608, when he and his father, Heraclius the Elder, the exarch of Africa, successfully led a revolt against the unpopular usurper Phocas.Heraclius'...

, the Byzantines fielded an army superior to that of the Rashidun in manpower. They advanced into southern Syria during the spring of 636 and consequently Khalid ibn al-Walid's forces withdrew from Damascus to prepare for renewed confrontation. In August, the two powers met along the Yarmouk River
Yarmouk River
The Yarmouk River is the largest tributary of the Jordan River. It drains much of the Hauran Plateau. It is one of three main tributaries which enter the Jordan between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. To the south, are the Jabbok/Zarqa and the Arnon/Wadi Mujib) rivers...

 where they a fought a major battle
Battle of Yarmouk
The Battle of Yarmouk was a major battle between the Muslim Arab forces of the Rashidun Caliphate and the armies of the East Roman-Byzantine Empire. The battle consisted of a series of engagements that lasted for six days in August 636, near the Yarmouk River, along what is today the border...

 which ended in a decisive Muslim victory, solidifying the latter's rule in Syria and Palestine.

While the Muslims administrated the city, the population of Damascus remained mostly Christian—Eastern Orthodox and Monophysite—with a growing community of Muslims from Mecca
Mecca
Mecca is a city in the Hijaz and the capital of Makkah province in Saudi Arabia. The city is located inland from Jeddah in a narrow valley at a height of above sea level...

, Medina
Medina
Medina , or ; also transliterated as Madinah, or madinat al-nabi "the city of the prophet") is a city in the Hejaz region of western Saudi Arabia, and serves as the capital of the Al Madinah Province. It is the second holiest city in Islam, and the burial place of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, and...

, and the Syrian Desert
Syrian Desert
The Syrian Desert , also known as the Syro-Arabian desert is a combination of steppe and true desert that is located in the northern Arabian Peninsula covering 200,000 square miles . also the desert is very rocky and flat...

. The governor assigned to the city which had been chosen as the capital of Islamic Syria was Mu'awiya I. After the death of Caliph Ali
Ali
' |Ramaḍān]], 40 AH; approximately October 23, 598 or 600 or March 17, 599 – January 27, 661).His father's name was Abu Talib. Ali was also the cousin and son-in-law of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and ruled over the Islamic Caliphate from 656 to 661, and was the first male convert to Islam...

 in 661, Mu'awiya was chosen as the caliph of the expanding Islamic empire. Because of the vast amounts of assets his clan, the Ummayads, owned in the city and because of its traditional economic and social links with the Hijaz as well as the Christian Arab tribes of the region, Mu'awiya established Damascus as the capital of the entire Caliphate
Caliphate
The term caliphate, "dominion of a caliph " , refers to the first system of government established in Islam and represented the political unity of the Muslim Ummah...

. With the ascension of Caliph Abd al-Malik in 685, an Islamic coinage system was introduced and all of the surplus revenue of the Caliphate's provinces were forwarded to the treasury of Damascus. Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 was also established as the official language, giving the Muslim minority of the city an advantage over the Aramaic-speaking Christians in administrative affairs. It is critical to note that, at the time Damascus was conquered by the Muslims, the majority of Arabs were either pagans or Christians. Damascus itself was predominantly Aramaic with Arab speaking people.

Abd al-Malik's successor, al-Walid initiated construction of the Grand Mosque of Damascus (known as the Umayyad Mosque) in 706. The site originally had been the Christian Cathedral of St. John and the Muslims maintained the building's dedication to John the Baptist
John the Baptist
John the Baptist was an itinerant preacher and a major religious figure mentioned in the Canonical gospels. He is described in the Gospel of Luke as a relative of Jesus, who led a movement of baptism at the Jordan River...

. By 715, the mosque was complete. Al-Walid died that same year and he was succeeded at first by Suleiman ibn Abd al-Malik and then by Umar II
Umar II
Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz was an Umayyad caliph who ruled from 717 to 720. He was also a cousin of the former caliph, being the son of Abd al-Malik's younger brother, Abd al-Aziz. He was also a great-grandson of the companion of the Prophet Muhammad, Umar bin Al-Khattab.-Lineage:Umar was born around...

, who each ruled for brief periods before the reign of Hisham in 724. With these successions, the status of Damascus was gradually weakening as Suleiman had chosen Ramla
Ramla
Ramla , is a city in central Israel. The city is predominantly Jewish with a significant Arab minority. Ramla was founded circa 705–715 AD by the Umayyad Caliph Suleiman ibn Abed al-Malik after the Arab conquest of the region...

 as his residence and later Hisham chose Rusafa
Rusafa
Al Rusafa or Rasafa is the east-bank settlement of Baghdad, Iraq, or the eastern shore of the river Tigris. It is also one of nine administrative districts in Baghdad...

. Following the murder of the latter in 743, the Caliphate of the Umayyads — which by then stretched from Spain to India— was crumbling as a result of widespread revolts. During the reign of Marwan II
Marwan II
Marwan ibn Muhammad ibn Marwan or Marwan II was an Umayyad caliph who ruled from 744 until 750 when he was killed. He was the last Umayyad ruler to rule from Damascus.In A.H. 114 Caliph Hisham appointed Marwan governor of Armenia and Azerbaijan. In A.H...

 in 744, the capital of the empire was relocated to Harran
Harran
Harran was a major ancient city in Upper Mesopotamia whose site is near the modern village of Altınbaşak, Turkey, 24 miles southeast of Şanlıurfa...

 in the northern Jazira region.

On August 25, 750, the Abbasid
Abbasid
The Abbasid Caliphate or, more simply, the Abbasids , was the third of the Islamic caliphates. It was ruled by the Abbasid dynasty of caliphs, who built their capital in Baghdad after overthrowing the Umayyad caliphate from all but the al-Andalus region....

s, having already beaten the Umayyads in the Battle of the Zab
Battle of the Zab
The Battle of the Zab took place on the banks of the Great Zab river in what is now Iraq on January 25, 750. It spelled the end of the Umayyad Caliphate and the rise of the Abbasids, a dynasty that would last until the 13th century.-Background:A serious rebellion had broken out in 747 against...

 in Iraq, conquered Damascus after facing little resistance. With the heralding of the Abbasid Caliphate, Damascus became eclipsed and subordinated by Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

, the new Islamic capital. Within the first six months of Abbasid rule, revolts began erupting in the city, albeit too isolated and unfocused to present a viable threat. Nonetheless, the last of the prominent Umayyads were executed, the traditional officials of Damascus ostracized, and army generals from the city were dismissed. Afterward, the Umayyad family cemetery was desecrated and the city walls were torn down, reducing Damascus into a provincial town of little importance. It roughly disappeared from written records for the next century and the only significant improvement of the city was the Abbasid-built treasury dome in the Umayyad Mosque in 789. In 811, distant remnants of the Umayyad dynasty staged a strong uprising in Damascus that was eventually put down.

Ahmad ibn Tulun
Ahmad ibn Tulun
Ahmad ibn Ṭūlūn was the founder of the Tulunid dynasty that ruled Egypt briefly between 868 and 905 AD. Originally sent by the Abbasid caliph as governor to Egypt, ibn Ṭūlūn established himself as an independent ruler.-Biography:...

, a dissenting Turkish governor appointed by the Abbasids, conquered Syria, including Damascus, from his overlords in 878-79. In an act of respect for the previous Umayyad rulers, he erected a shrine on the site of Mu'awiya's grave in the city. Tulunid rule of Damascus was brief, lasting only until 906 before being replaced by the Qarmatians
Qarmatians
The Qarmatians were a Shi'a Ismaili group centered in eastern Arabia, where they attempted to established a utopian republic in 899 CE. They are most famed for their revolt against the Abbasid Caliphate...

 who were adherents of Shia Islam. Due to their inability to control the vast amount of land they occupied, the Qarmatians withdrew from Damascus and a new dynasty, the Ikhshidids, took control of the city. They maintained the independence of Damascus from the Arab Hamdanid dynasty of Aleppo
Aleppo
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 , expanding to over 2.5 million in the metropolitan area, it is also one of the largest cities in the Levant...

 and the Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

-based Abbasids until 967. A period of instability in the city followed, with a Qarmatian raid in 968, a Byzantine raid in 970, and increasing pressures from the Fatimid
Fatimid
The Fatimid Islamic Caliphate or al-Fāṭimiyyūn was a Berber Shia Muslim caliphate first centered in Tunisia and later in Egypt that ruled over varying areas of the Maghreb, Sudan, Sicily, the Levant, and Hijaz from 5 January 909 to 1171.The caliphate was ruled by the Fatimids, who established the...

s in the south and the Hamdanids in the north.

The Shia Fatimids gained control in 970, inflaming hostilities between them and the Sunni Arabs of the city who frequently revolted. A Turk, Alp Takin drove out the Fatimids five years later, and through diplomacy, prevented the Byzantines from attempting to annex the city. However, by 977, the Fatimids under Caliph al-Aziz, wrested back control of the city and tamed Sunni dissidents. The Arab geographer, al-Muqaddasi
Al-Muqaddasi
Muhammad ibn Ahmad Shams al-Din Al-Muqaddasi , also transliterated as Al-Maqdisi and el-Mukaddasi, was a medieval Arab geographer, author of Ahsan at-Taqasim fi Ma`rifat il-Aqalim .-Biography:Al-Muqaddasi, "the Hierosolomite" was born in Jerusalem in 946 AD...

, visited Damascus in 985, remarking that the architecture and infrastructure of the city was "magnificent", but living conditions were awful. Under al-Aziz, the city saw a brief period of stability that ended with the reign of al-Hakim
Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah
Abu ‘Ali Mansur Tāriqu l-Ḥākim, called Al-Hakim bi Amr al-Lāh , was the sixth Fatimid caliph and 16th Ismaili imam .- History :...

 (996–1021). In 998, Hundreds of Damascene leaders were rounded up and executed by him for incitement. Three years after al-Hakim's mysterious disappearance, the Arab tribes of southern Syria formed an alliance to stage a massive rebellion against the Fatimids, but they were crushed by the Fatimid Turkish governor of Syria and Palestine, Anushtakin al-Duzbari, in 1029. This victory gave the latter mastery over Syria, displeasing his Fatimid overlords, but gaining the admiration of Damascus' citizens. He was exiled by Fatimid authorities to Aleppo
Aleppo
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 , expanding to over 2.5 million in the metropolitan area, it is also one of the largest cities in the Levant...

 where he died in 1041. From that date to 1063, there are no known records of the city's history. By then, Damascus lacked a city administration, had an enfeebled economy, and a greatly reduced population.

Seljuq and Ayyubid rule



With the arrival of the Seljuq Turks in the late 11th century, Damascus again became the capital of independent states. It was ruled by Abu Sa'id Taj ad-Dawla Tutush I
Tutush I
Abu Sa'id Taj ad-Dawla Tutush I was the Seljuq ruler of Damascus from 1079 to 1095, succeeding Abaaq al-Khwarazmi. He finished the construction of the Citadel of Damascus, a project that had begun under the direction of Abaaq al Khwarizmi...

 starting in 1079 and he was succeeded by his son Abu Nasr Duqaq
Duqaq
Abu Nasr Shams al-Muluk Duqaq was the Seljuq ruler of Damascus from 1095 to 1104.Duqaq was a son of the Seljuq ruler of Syria, Tutush I, and Khatun Safwat al-Mulk, He was the brother of Radwan. When their father died in 1095, Radwan claimed Syria for himself, and Duqaq initially inherited...

 in 1095. The Seljuqs established a court in Damascus and a systematic reversal of Shia inroads in the city. The city also saw an expansion of religious life through private endowments financing religious institutions (madrasas) and hospitals (maristans). Damascus soon became one of the most important centers of propagating Islamic thought in the Muslim world. After Duqaq's death in 1104, his mentor (atabeg
Atabeg
Atabeg, Atabek, or Atabey is a hereditary title of nobility of Turkic origin, indicating a governor of a nation or province who was subordinate to a monarch and charged with raising the crown prince...

), Toghtekin
Toghtekin
Zahir ad-Din Toghtekin was a Turkic military leader, who was atabeg of Damascus from 1104 to 1128. He was the founder of the Burid dynasty of Damascus.-Biography:...

, took control of Damascus and the Burid line
Burid dynasty
The Burid dynasty was a Turkish dynasty which ruled over Damascus in the early 12th century. The first Burid ruler, Toghtekin, began as a servant to the Seljuk ruler of Damascus, Duqaq. Following Duqaq's death in 1104, he seized the city for himself. The Burids gained recognition from the...

 of the Seljuq dynasty. Under Duqaq and Toghtekin, Damascus experienced stability, elevated status and a revived role in commerce. In addition, the city's Sunni majority enjoyed being a part of the larger Sunni framework effectively governed by various Turkic dynasties who in turn were under the moral authority of the Baghdad-based Abbasids.
t
While the rulers of Damascus were preoccupied in conflict with their fellow Seljuqs in Aleppo and Diyarbakir
Diyarbakir
Diyarbakır is one of the largest cities in southeastern Turkey...

, the Crusaders, who arrived in the Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

 in 1097, conquered Jerusalem, Mount Lebanon
Mount Lebanon
Mount Lebanon , as a geographic designation, is a Lebanese mountain range, averaging above 2,200 meters in height and receiving a substantial amount of precipitation, including snow, which averages around four meters deep. It extends across the whole country along about , parallel to the...

 and Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

. Duqaq seemed to have been content with Crusader rule as a buffer between his dominion and the Fatimid Caliphate of Egypt. Toghtekin, however, saw the Western invaders as a viable threat to Damascus which, at the time, nominally included Homs
Homs
Homs , previously known as Emesa , is a city in western Syria and the capital of the Homs Governorate. It is above sea level and is located north of Damascus...

, the Beqaa Valley, Hauran, and the Golan Heights a part of its territories. With military support from Sharaf al-Din Mawdud
Mawdud
Mawdud ibn Altuntash was a Turkic military leader who was atabeg of Mosul from 1109 to 1113...

 of Mosul
Mosul
Mosul , is a city in northern Iraq and the capital of the Ninawa Governorate, some northwest of Baghdad. The original city stands on the west bank of the Tigris River, opposite the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh on the east bank, but the metropolitan area has now grown to encompass substantial...

, Toghtekin managed to halt Crusader raids in the Golan and Hauran. Mawdud was assassinated in the Umayyad Mosque in 1109, depriving Damascus of northern Muslim backing and forcing Toghtekin to agree to a truce with the Crusaders in 1110.

Following Tughtakin's death in 1128, his son, Taj al-Din Buri, became the nominal ruler of Damascus. Coincidentally, the Seljuq prince of Mosul
Mosul
Mosul , is a city in northern Iraq and the capital of the Ninawa Governorate, some northwest of Baghdad. The original city stands on the west bank of the Tigris River, opposite the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh on the east bank, but the metropolitan area has now grown to encompass substantial...

, Imad al-Din Zengi
Zengi
Imad ad-Din Zengi was the atabeg of Mosul, Aleppo, Hama and Edessa and founder of the Zengid dynasty, to which he gave his name.-Early life:...

, took power in Aleppo and gained a mandate from the Abbasids to extend his authority to Damascus. In 1129, around 6,000 Isma'ili Muslims were killed in the city along with their leaders. The Sunnis were provoked by rumors alleging there was a plot by the Isma'ilis, who controlled the strategic fort at Baniyas
Baniyas
Baniyas is a city of northwestern Syria, located at the foot of the hill of Qalaat el-Marqab , 55 km to the south of Latakia and 35 km north of Tartous , and a Catholic titular see under the Latin name of Balanea, which is presently vacant.It is famous for its orchards...

, to aid the Crusaders in capturing Damascus in return for control of Tyre. Soon after the massacre, the Crusaders aimed to take advantage of the unstable situation and launch an assault against Damascus with nearly 60,000 troops. However, Buri allied with Zengi and managed to prevent their army from reaching the city. Buri was assassinated by Isma'ili agents in 1132; he was succeeded by his son, Shams al-Mulk Isma'il who ruled tyrannically until he himself was murdered in 1135 on secret orders from his mother, Safwat al-Mulk Zumurrud; Isma'il's brother, Shihab al-Din Mahmud, replaced him. Meanwhile, Zengi, intent on putting Damascus under his control, married Safwat al-Mulk in 1138. Mahmud's reign then ended in 1139 after he was killed for relatively unknown reasons by members of his family. Mu'in al-Din Unur, his mamluk
Mamluk
A Mamluk was a soldier of slave origin, who were predominantly Cumans/Kipchaks The "mamluk phenomenon", as David Ayalon dubbed the creation of the specific warrior...

("slave soldier") took effective power of the city, prompting Zengi—with Safwat al-Mulk's backing—to lay siege against Damascus the same year. In response, Damascus allied with the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem
Kingdom of Jerusalem
The Kingdom of Jerusalem was a Catholic kingdom established in the Levant in 1099 after the First Crusade. The kingdom lasted nearly two hundred years, from 1099 until 1291 when the last remaining possession, Acre, was destroyed by the Mamluks, but its history is divided into two distinct periods....

 to resist Zengi's forces. Consequently, Zengi withdrew his army and focused on campaigns against northern Syria.

In 1144 Zengi conquered Edessa
Siege of Edessa
The Siege of Edessa took place from November 28 to December 24, 1144, resulting in the fall of the capital of the crusader County of Edessa to Zengi, the atabeg of Mosul and Aleppo.- Background :...

, a crusader stronghold, which led to a new crusade
Second Crusade
The Second Crusade was the second major crusade launched from Europe. The Second Crusade was started in response to the fall of the County of Edessa the previous year to the forces of Zengi. The county had been founded during the First Crusade by Baldwin of Boulogne in 1098...

 from Europe in 1148. In the meantime Zengi was assassinated and his territory was divided among his sons, one of whom, Nur ad-Din, emir of Aleppo, made an alliance with Damascus. When the European crusaders arrived, they and the nobles of Jerusalem agreed to attack Damascus. Their siege
Siege of Damascus
The Siege of Damascus took place over four days in July 1148, during the Second Crusade. It ended in a decisive crusader defeat and led to the disintegration of the crusade. The two main Christian forces that marched to the Holy Land in response to Pope Eugenius III and Bernard of Clairvaux's call...

, however, was a complete failure. When the city seemed to be on the verge of collapse, the crusader army suddenly moved against another section of the walls, and were driven back. By 1154, Damascus was firmly under Nur ad-Din's control.


In 1164, King Amalric
Amalric I of Jerusalem
Amalric I of Jerusalem was King of Jerusalem 1163–1174, and Count of Jaffa and Ascalon before his accession. Amalric was the second son of Melisende of Jerusalem and Fulk of Jerusalem...

 of Jerusalem invaded Fatimid Egypt
Crusader invasions of Egypt
The Crusader invasion of Egypt was a series of campaigns undertaken by the Kingdom of Jerusalem to strengthen its position in the Levant by taking advantage of the weakness of Fatimid Egypt....

, which requested help from Nur ad-Din. The Nur ad-Din sent his general Shirkuh
Shirkuh
Asad ad-Din Shirkuh bin Shadhi , also known as Shêrko or "Shêrgo" was an important Kurdish military commander, and uncle of Saladin....

, and in 1166 Amalric was defeated at the Battle of al-Babein
Battle of al-Babein
The Battle of al-Babein took place on March 18, 1167, between Amalric I of Jerusalem and a Zengid army under Shirkuh for control of Egypt. Saladin served as Shirkuh’s highest ranking officer in the battle. The battle was a tactical draw between the Zengid forces and King Amalric's invasion...

. When Shirkuh died in 1169, he was succeeded by his nephew Yusuf, better known as Saladin
Saladin
Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb , better known in the Western world as Saladin, was an Arabized Kurdish Muslim, who became the first Sultan of Egypt and Syria, and founded the Ayyubid dynasty. He led Muslim and Arab opposition to the Franks and other European Crusaders in the Levant...

, who defeated a joint crusader-Byzantine siege of Damietta
Damietta
Damietta , also known as Damiata, or Domyat, is a port and the capital of the Damietta Governorate in Egypt. It is located at the intersection between the Mediterranean Sea and the Nile, about north of Cairo.-History:...

. Saladin eventually overthrew the Fatimid caliphs and established himself as Sultan of Egypt. He also began to assert his independence from Nur ad-Din, and with the death of both Amalric and Nur ad-Din in 1174, he was well-placed to begin exerting control over Damascus and Nur ad-Din's other Syrian possessions. In 1177 Saladin was defeated by the crusaders at the Battle of Montgisard
Battle of Montgisard
The Battle of Montgisard was fought between the Ayyubids and the Kingdom of Jerusalem on November 25, 1177. The 16 year old King Baldwin IV, seriously afflicted by leprosy, led an out-numbered Christian force against the army of Saladin...

, despite his numerical superiority. Saladin also besieged Kerak
Siege of Kerak
The Siege of Kerak took place in 1183, with Saladin's forces attacking and being repelled from the Crusader stronghold.- Prelude :Kerak was the stronghold of Raynald of Châtillon, Lord of Oultrejordain, 124 km South of Amman. The fortress was built in 1142 by Pagan the Butler, Lord of Montreal...

 in 1183, but was forced to withdraw. He finally launched a full invasion of Jerusalem in 1187, and annihilated the crusader army at the Battle of Hattin
Battle of Hattin
The Battle of Hattin took place on Saturday, July 4, 1187, between the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem and the forces of the Ayyubid dynasty....

 in July. Acre
Acre, Israel
Acre , is a city in the Western Galilee region of northern Israel at the northern extremity of Haifa Bay. Acre is one of the oldest continuously inhabited sites in the country....

 fell to Saladin soon after, and Jerusalem itself was captured
Siege of Jerusalem (1187)
On July 4, 1187 the Kingdom's army was defeated at the Battle of Hattin by Saladin and only Balian of Ibelin commanding a small number of soldiers remained in Jerusalem. The Siege of Jerusalem lasted from September 20 to October 2, 1187. On October 2, 1187 Balian of Ibelin surrendered Jerusalem to...

 in October. These events shocked Europe, resulting in the Third Crusade
Third Crusade
The Third Crusade , also known as the Kings' Crusade, was an attempt by European leaders to reconquer the Holy Land from Saladin...

 in 1189, led by Richard I of England
Richard I of England
Richard I was King of England from 6 July 1189 until his death. He also ruled as Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine, Duke of Gascony, Lord of Cyprus, Count of Anjou, Count of Maine, Count of Nantes, and Overlord of Brittany at various times during the same period...

, Philip II of France
Philip II of France
Philip II Augustus was the King of France from 1180 until his death. A member of the House of Capet, Philip Augustus was born at Gonesse in the Val-d'Oise, the son of Louis VII and his third wife, Adela of Champagne...

 and Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor
Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor
Frederick I Barbarossa was a German Holy Roman Emperor. He was elected King of Germany at Frankfurt on 4 March 1152 and crowned in Aachen on 9 March, crowned King of Italy in Pavia in 1155, and finally crowned Roman Emperor by Pope Adrian IV, on 18 June 1155, and two years later in 1157 the term...

, though the last drowned en route.

The surviving crusaders, joined by new arrivals from Europe, put Acre to a lengthy siege which lasted until 1191. After re-capturing Acre, Richard defeated Saladin at the Battle of Arsuf
Battle of Arsuf
The Battle of Arsuf was a battle of the Third Crusade in which Richard I of England defeated Saladin at Arsuf. Following a series of harassing attacks by Saladin's forces, battle was joined on the morning of 7 September 1191...

 in 1191 and the Battle of Jaffa
Battle of Jaffa
The Battle of Jaffa took place during the Crusades, as one of a series of campaigns between Saladin's army and the forces of King Richard the Lionheart. It was the final battle of the Third Crusade, after which Saladin and King Richard were able to negotiate a truce...

 in 1192, recovering most of the coast for the Christians, but could not recover Jerusalem or any of the inland territory of the kingdom. The crusade came to an end peacefully, with the Treaty of Ramla
Treaty of Ramla
The Treaty of Ramla was signed by Saladin and Richard the Lionheart in June 1192 after the Battle of Arsuf. Under the terms of the agreement, Jerusalem would remain under Muslim control. However, the city would be open to Christian pilgrimages. Also, the treaty reduced the Latin Kingdom to a...

 in 1192. Saladin allowed pilgrimages to be made to Jerusalem, allowing the crusaders to fulfill their vows, after which they all returned home. The native crusader barons set about rebuilding their kingdom from Acre and the other coastal cities.

Saladin died in 1193, and there were frequent conflicts between different Ayyubid sultans
Ayyubid dynasty
The Ayyubid dynasty was a Muslim dynasty of Kurdish origin, founded by Saladin and centered in Egypt. The dynasty ruled much of the Middle East during the 12th and 13th centuries CE. The Ayyubid family, under the brothers Ayyub and Shirkuh, originally served as soldiers for the Zengids until they...

 ruling in Damascus and Cairo. Damascus was the capital of independent Ayyubid rulers between 1193 and 1201, from 1218 to 1238, from 1239 to 1245, and from 1250 to 1260. At other times it was ruled by the Ayyubid rulers of Egypt. Damascus steel
Damascus steel
Damascus steel was a term used by several Western cultures from the Medieval period onward to describe a type of steel used in swordmaking from about 300 BCE to 1700 CE. These swords are characterized by distinctive patterns of banding and mottling reminiscent of flowing water...

 gained a legendary reputation among the Crusaders, and patterned steel is still "damascened". The patterned Byzantine and Chinese silks available through Damascus, one of the Western termini of the Silk Road
Silk Road
The Silk Road or Silk Route refers to a historical network of interlinking trade routes across the Afro-Eurasian landmass that connected East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean and European world, as well as parts of North and East Africa...

, gave the English language "damask".

Mamluk period


Ayyubid rule (and independence) came to an end with the Mongol invasion of Syria in 1260, and following the Mongol defeat at Ain Jalut
Battle of Ain Jalut
The Battle of Ain Jalut took place on 3 September 1260 between Mamluks and the Mongols in eastern Galilee, in the Jezreel Valley, not far from Ein Harod....

 in the same year, Damascus became a provincial capital of the Mamluk Empire, ruled from Egypt, following the Mongol withdrawal. The Black Death
Black Death
The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. Of several competing theories, the dominant explanation for the Black Death is the plague theory, which attributes the outbreak to the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Thought to have...

 of 1348–1349 killed as much as half of the city's population.

In 1400 Timur
Timur
Timur , historically known as Tamerlane in English , was a 14th-century conqueror of West, South and Central Asia, and the founder of the Timurid dynasty in Central Asia, and great-great-grandfather of Babur, the founder of the Mughal Dynasty, which survived as the Mughal Empire in India until...

, the Turco-Mongol
Turco-Mongol
Turko-Mongol is a modern designation for various nomads who were subjects of the Mongol Empire. Being progressively Turkicized in terms of language and identity following the Mongol conquests, they derived their ethnic and cultural origins from steppes of Central Asia...

 conqueror, besieged Damascus. The Mamluk sultan dispatched a deputation from Cairo, including Ibn Khaldun
Ibn Khaldun
Ibn Khaldūn or Ibn Khaldoun was an Arab Tunisian historiographer and historian who is often viewed as one of the forerunners of modern historiography, sociology and economics...

, who negotiated with him, but after their withdrawal he put the city to sack. The Umayyad Mosque
Umayyad Mosque
The Umayyad Mosque, also known as the Great Mosque of Damascus or formerly the Basilica of Saint John the Baptist , is located in the old city of Damascus, is one of the largest and oldest mosques in the world...

 was burnt and men and women taken into slavery. A huge number of the city's artisans were taken to Timur's capital at Samarkand
Samarkand
Although a Persian-speaking region, it was not united politically with Iran most of the times between the disintegration of the Seleucid Empire and the Arab conquest . In the 6th century it was within the domain of the Turkic kingdom of the Göktürks.At the start of the 8th century Samarkand came...

. These were the luckier citizens: many were slaughtered and their heads piled up in a field outside the north-east corner of the walls, where a city square still bears the name burj al-ru'us, originally "the tower of heads".

Rebuilt, Damascus continued to serve as a Mamluk provincial capital until 1516.

Ottoman rule


In early 1516, the Ottoman Turks
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

, wary of the danger of an alliance between the Mamluks and the Persian Safavids, started a campaign of conquest against the Mamluk sultanate. On 21 September, the Mamluk governor of Damascus fled the city, and on 2 October the khutba
Khutba
Khutbah serves as the primary formal occasion for public preaching in the Islamic tradition.Such sermons occur regularly, as prescribed by the teachings of all legal schools. The Islamic tradition can be formally at the dhuhr congregation prayer on Friday...

 in the Umayyad mosque was pronounced in the name of Selim I
Selim I
Selim I, Yavuz Sultân Selim Khan, Hâdim-ül Haramain-ish Sharifain , nicknamed Yavuz "the Stern" or "the Steadfast", but often rendered in English as "the Grim" , was the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1512 to...

. The day after, the victorious sultan entered the city, staying for three months. On 15 December, he left Damascus by Bab al-Jabiya, intent on the conquest of Egypt. Little appeared to have changed in the city: one army had simply replaced another. However, on his return in October 1517, the sultan ordered the construction of a mosque, tekkiye
Khanqah
A Khanqah, Khaniqah , ribat, zawiya, or tekke is a building designed specifically for gatherings of a Sufi brotherhood, or tariqa, and is a place for spiritual retreat and character reformation...

 and mausoleum at the shrine of Shaikh Muhi al-Din ibn Arabi
Ibn Arabi
Ibn ʿArabī was an Andalusian Moorish Sufi mystic and philosopher. His full name was Abū 'Abdillāh Muḥammad ibn 'Alī ibn Muḥammad ibn `Arabī .-Biography:...

 in al-Salihiyah
Al-Salihiyah
Al-Salihiyah is a neighborhood of Damascus, Syria. It lies to the north and northwest of the old walled city of Damascus about from the Citadel at the foot of Mount Qasioun. The quarter is famous for its cemetery of holy men. It houses the Parliament building. It has also has the Hanabila Mosque....

. This was to be the first of Damascus' great Ottoman monuments.

The Ottomans remained for the next 400 years, except for a brief occupation by Ibrahim Pasha
Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt
Ibrahim Pasha was the eldest son of Muhammad Ali, the Wāli and unrecognised Khedive of Egypt and Sudan. He served as a general in the Egyptian army that his father established during his reign, taking his first command of Egyptian forces was when he was merely a teenager...

 of Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 from 1832 to 1840. Because of its importance as the point of departure for one of the two great Hajj
Hajj
The Hajj is the pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is one of the largest pilgrimages in the world, and is the fifth pillar of Islam, a religious duty that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so...

 caravans to Mecca
Mecca
Mecca is a city in the Hijaz and the capital of Makkah province in Saudi Arabia. The city is located inland from Jeddah in a narrow valley at a height of above sea level...

, Damascus was treated with more attention by the Porte than its size might have warranted — for most of this period, Aleppo
Aleppo
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 , expanding to over 2.5 million in the metropolitan area, it is also one of the largest cities in the Levant...

 was more populous and commercially more important. In 1560 the Tekkiye al-Sulaimaniyah
Tekkiye Mosque
The Tekkiye Mosque is a mosque complex in Damascus, Syria, located on the banks of the Barada River. The complex is composed of a large mosque on the southwest side of a courtyard, flanked by a single line of arcaded cells, and a soup kitchen across the courtyard to the northwest, flanked by...

, a mosque and khan
Caravanserai
A caravanserai, or khan, also known as caravansary, caravansera, or caravansara in English was a roadside inn where travelers could rest and recover from the day's journey...

 for pilgrims on the road to Mecca, was completed to a design by the famous Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan, and soon afterwards a madrasa
Al-Salimiyah Madrasa
Al-Salimiyah Madrasa is a madrasah in Damascus, Syria. The madrasa was built as a part of the Tekkiye Mosque complex in a separate building to the southeast of the complex...

 was built adjoining it.

Under Ottoman rule, Christians and Jews
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

 were considered dhimmi
Dhimmi
A , is a non-Muslim subject of a state governed in accordance with sharia law. Linguistically, the word means "one whose responsibility has been taken". This has to be understood in the context of the definition of state in Islam...

s and were allowed to practice their religious precepts. The Damascus affair
Damascus affair
The Damascus affair was an 1840 incident in which the accusation of ritual murder was brought against members of the Jewish community of Damascus. Eight notable Jews of Damascus were falsely accused of murdering a Christian monk, imprisoned and tortured. Several of the imprisoned died of torture,...

 that took place in 1840 was an incident in which the accusation of ritual murder was brought against members of the Jewish community of Damascus. In addition the massacre of Christians in 1860 was also one of the most notorious incidents of these centuries, when fighting between Druze
Druze
The Druze are an esoteric, monotheistic religious community, found primarily in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan, which emerged during the 11th century from Ismailism. The Druze have an eclectic set of beliefs that incorporate several elements from Abrahamic religions, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism...

 and Maronites
Maronites
Maronites , is an ethnoreligious group in the Middle East that have been historically tied with Lebanon. They derive their name from the Syriac saint Mar Maron whose followers moved to Mount Lebanon from northern Syria establishing the Maronite Church....

 in Mount Lebanon
Mount Lebanon
Mount Lebanon , as a geographic designation, is a Lebanese mountain range, averaging above 2,200 meters in height and receiving a substantial amount of precipitation, including snow, which averages around four meters deep. It extends across the whole country along about , parallel to the...

 spilled over into the city. Several thousand Christians were killed, with many more being saved through the intervention of the Algerian exile Abd al-Qadir and his soldiers (three days after the massacre started), who brought them to safety in Abd al-Qadir's residence and the citadel. The Christian quarter of the old city (mostly inhabited by Catholics), including a number of churches, was burnt down. The Christian inhabitants of the notoriously poor and refractory Midan district outside the walls (mostly Orthodox) were, however, protected by their Muslim neighbours.

American Missionary E.C. Miller records that in 1867 the population of the city was 'about' 140,000, of whom 30,000 where Christians, 10,000 Jews and 100,000 'Mohammedans' with fewer than 100 Protestant Christians.

Modern


In the early years of the 20th century, nationalist sentiment in Damascus, initially cultural in its interest, began to take a political colouring, largely in reaction to the turkicisation programme of the Committee of Union and Progress
Committee of Union and Progress
The Committee of Union and Progress began as a secret society established as the "Committee of Ottoman Union" in 1889 by the medical students İbrahim Temo, Abdullah Cevdet, İshak Sükuti and Ali Hüseyinzade...

 government established in Istanbul in 1908. The hanging of a number of patriotic intellectuals by Jamal Pasha, governor of Damascus, in Beirut and Damascus in 1915 and 1916 further stoked nationalist feeling, and in 1918, as the forces of the Arab Revolt
Arab Revolt
The Arab Revolt was initiated by the Sherif Hussein bin Ali with the aim of securing independence from the ruling Ottoman Turks and creating a single unified Arab state spanning from Aleppo in Syria to Aden in Yemen.- Background :...

 and the British army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 approached, residents fired on the retreating Turkish troops.


On 1 October 1918, T. E. Lawrence
T. E. Lawrence
Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence, CB, DSO , known professionally as T. E. Lawrence, was a British Army officer renowned especially for his liaison role during the Arab Revolt against Ottoman Turkish rule of 1916–18...

 entered Damascus, the third arrival of the day, the first being the 3rd Australian Light Brigade, led by Major A.C.N. 'Harrry' Olden. Two days later, October 3, 1918, the forces of the Arab revolt
Arab Revolt
The Arab Revolt was initiated by the Sherif Hussein bin Ali with the aim of securing independence from the ruling Ottoman Turks and creating a single unified Arab state spanning from Aleppo in Syria to Aden in Yemen.- Background :...

 led by Prince Faysal
Faisal I of Iraq
Faisal bin Hussein bin Ali al-Hashemi, was for a short time King of the Arab Kingdom of Syria or Greater Syria in 1920, and was King of the Kingdom of Iraq from 23 August 1921 to 1933...

 also entered Damascus. A military government under Shukri Pasha was named and Faisal ibn Hussein
Faisal I of Iraq
Faisal bin Hussein bin Ali al-Hashemi, was for a short time King of the Arab Kingdom of Syria or Greater Syria in 1920, and was King of the Kingdom of Iraq from 23 August 1921 to 1933...

 was proclaimed king of Syria. Political tension rose in November 1917, when the new Bolshevik
Bolshevik
The Bolsheviks, originally also Bolshevists , derived from bol'shinstvo, "majority") were a faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party which split apart from the Menshevik faction at the Second Party Congress in 1903....

 government in Russia revealed the Sykes-Picot Agreement
Sykes-Picot Agreement
The Sykes–Picot Agreement of 1916 was a secret agreement between the governments of the United Kingdom and France, with the assent of Imperial Russia, defining their respective spheres of influence and control in Western Asia after the expected downfall of the Ottoman Empire during World War I...

 whereby Britain and France had arranged to partition the Arab east between them. A new Franco-British proclamation on 17 November promised the "complete and definitive freeing of the peoples so long oppressed by the Turks." The Syrian National Congress
Syrian National Congress
The Syrian National Congress was convened in July 1919 in Damascus, Syria to prepare for the King-Crane Commission of inquiry on the future of Greater Syria after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. The congress was attended by representative from all parts of Syria. The participants showed...

 in March adopted a democratic constitution. However, the Versailles Conference had granted France a mandate
League of Nations mandate
A League of Nations mandate was a legal status for certain territories transferred from the control of one country to another following World War I, or the legal instruments that contained the internationally agreed-upon terms for administering the territory on behalf of the League...

 over Syria, and in 1920 a French army commanded by the General Mariano Goybet
Mariano Goybet
Mariano Francisco Julio Goybet was a French Army general that held several senior commands in World War I.-An old Savoy family:...

 crossed the Anti-Lebanon Mountains, defeated a small Syrian defensive expedition at the Battle of Maysalun
Battle of Maysalun
The Battle of Maysalun , also called The Battle of Maysalun Pass, took place between Syrian and French forces about 12 miles west of Damascus near the town of Maysalun on July 23, 1920.-Background:...

 and entered Damascus. The French made Damascus capital of their League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

 Mandate of Syria.

When in 1925 the Druze revolt in the Hauran
Hauran
Hauran, , also spelled Hawran or Houran, is a volcanic plateau, a geographic area and a people located in southwestern Syria and extending into the northwestern corner of Jordan. It gets its name from the Aramaic Hawran, meaning "cave land." In geographic and geomorphic terms, its boundaries...

 spread to Damascus, the French suppressed it brutally, bombing and shelling the city on May 9, 1926. As a result the area of the old city between Al-Hamidiyah Souq and Medhat Pasha Souq
Medhat Pasha Souq
Medhat Pasha Souq is a historical souk which forms the western half of the Street Called Straight inside the old walled city of Damascus, Syria. It was named after the Ottoman governor of Syria Midhat Pasha who renovated it and ordered its coverage with a lead-shade...

 was burned to the ground, with many deaths, and has since then been known as al-Hariqa
Al-Hariqa
Al-Hariqa is a neighborhood in Damascus, Syria. It lies inside the walls of the old city south of the Citadel of Damascus between the late-Ottoman-era markets of al-Hamidiyah Souq and Medhat Pasha Souq. The neighborhood was known as Sidi Amoud after a famous holy man who was buried there...

("the fire"). The old city was surrounded with barbed wire to prevent rebels infiltrating from the Ghouta
Ghouta
Ghouta , is a collection of farms in Rif Dimashq close to the eastern part of Damascus, Syria.The Damascus Ghouta is a green agricultural belt surrounding the city of Damascus in the South and East. Separating the city from the Syrian Steppe, it has provided its inhabitants with a variety of...

, and a new road was built outside the northern ramparts to facilitate the movement of armored cars.

On 21 June 1941, Damascus was captured from the Vichy French forces by the Allies during the Syria-Lebanon campaign
Syria-Lebanon campaign
The Syria–Lebanon campaign, also known as Operation Exporter, was the Allied invasion of Vichy French-controlled Syria and Lebanon, in June–July 1941, during World War II. Time Magazine referred to the fighting as a "mixed show" while it was taking place and the campaign remains little known, even...

. On May 29, 1945, the French once more bombed Damascus, but on this occasion British forces intervened and the French agreed to withdraw, thus leading to the full independence of Syria in 1946 . Damascus remained the capital.

Geography



Damascus lies about 80 km (49.7 mi) inland from the Mediterranean, sheltered by the Anti-Lebanon mountains. It lies on a plateau 680 metres (2,231 ft) above sea-level. The city has an area of 105 km² (40.5 sq mi), out of which 77 km² (29.7 sq mi) is urban, while Jabal Qasioun occupies the rest.


The old city of Damascus, enclosed by the city walls, lies on the south bank of the river Barada
Barada
The Barada is the main river of Damascus, the capital city of Syria. It flows through the spring of `Ayn Fijah , about 27 km north west of Damascus in the Anti-Lebanon Mountains, but its source is Lake Barada, located at about 8 km from Zabadani...

 which is almost dry (3 cm left). To the south-east, north and north-east it is surrounded by suburban areas whose history stretches back to the Middle Ages: Midan in the south-west, Sarouja
Sarouja
Sarouja is a subdivision of Damascus, Syria....

 and Imara in the north and north-west. These districts originally arose on roads leading out of the city, near the tombs of religious figures. In the 19th century outlying villages developed on the slopes of Jabal Qasioun, overlooking the city, already the site of the al-Salihiyah district centred around the important shrine of Sheikh Muhi al-Din ibn Arabi
Ibn Arabi
Ibn ʿArabī was an Andalusian Moorish Sufi mystic and philosopher. His full name was Abū 'Abdillāh Muḥammad ibn 'Alī ibn Muḥammad ibn `Arabī .-Biography:...

. These new districts were initially settled by Kurdish soldiery and Muslim refugees from the European regions of the Ottoman Empire which had fallen under Christian rule. Thus they were known as al-Akrad (the Kurds) and al-Muhajirin (the migrants). They lay two to three kilometres (2 mi) north of the old city.

From the late 19th century on, a modern administrative and commercial centre began to spring up to the west of the old city, around the Barada, centred on the area known as al-Marjeh
Marjeh Square
Marjeh Square is a major square in downtown Damascus, Syria. The square was the central part of the city in the first half of the last century, before Damascus expanded further...

or the meadow. Al-Marjeh soon became the name of what was initially the central square of modern Damascus, with the city hall on it. The courts of justice, post office and railway station stood on higher ground slightly to the south. A Europeanised residential quarter soon began to be built on the road leading between al-Marjeh
Marjeh Square
Marjeh Square is a major square in downtown Damascus, Syria. The square was the central part of the city in the first half of the last century, before Damascus expanded further...

 and al-Salihiyah
Al-Salihiyah
Al-Salihiyah is a neighborhood of Damascus, Syria. It lies to the north and northwest of the old walled city of Damascus about from the Citadel at the foot of Mount Qasioun. The quarter is famous for its cemetery of holy men. It houses the Parliament building. It has also has the Hanabila Mosque....

. The commercial and administrative centre of the new city gradually shifted northwards slightly towards this area.

In the 20th century, newer suburbs developed north of the Barada, and to some extent to the south, invading the Ghouta oasis. From 1955 the new district of Yarmouk
Yarmouk (camp)
Yarmouk Camp is a district of the city of Damascus, populated by Palestinians, with hospitals and schools. It is located 8 kilometers from the center of Damascus and inside the municipal boundaries but when established in 1957 was outside the surrounding city...

 became a second home to thousands of Palestinian refugees. City planners preferred to preserve the Ghouta as far as possible, and in the later 20th century some of the main areas of development were to the north, in the western Mezzeh
Mezzeh
Mezzeh is a relatively new neighborhood of Damascus, Syria. It lies to the southwest of central Damascus, along the Mezzeh highway. It started gaining importance when the French constructed the Mezzeh military airport there, which was the main airport in Damascus until Damascus International...

 district and most recently along the Barada valley in Dummar
Dummar
Dummar is a suburb of Damascus. Its construction began in the 1970s and the first residents moved in during the mid 1980s. Dummar is located 5 km west of Damascus....

 in the north west and on the slopes of the mountains at Berze in the north-east. Poorer areas, often built without official approval, have mostly developed south of the main city.

Damascus used to be surrounded by an oasis
Oasis
In geography, an oasis or cienega is an isolated area of vegetation in a desert, typically surrounding a spring or similar water source...

, the Ghouta
Ghouta
Ghouta , is a collection of farms in Rif Dimashq close to the eastern part of Damascus, Syria.The Damascus Ghouta is a green agricultural belt surrounding the city of Damascus in the South and East. Separating the city from the Syrian Steppe, it has provided its inhabitants with a variety of...

 region (الغوطة ), watered by the Barada river. The Fijeh spring, west along the Barada valley, used to provide the city with drinking water. The Ghouta oasis has been decreasing in size with the rapid expansion of housing and industry in the city and it is almost dry. It has also become polluted due to the city's traffic, industry, and sewage.

Climate


Damascus has a hot arid climate (Köppen
Köppen climate classification
The Köppen climate classification is one of the most widely used climate classification systems. It was first published by Crimea German climatologist Wladimir Köppen in 1884, with several later modifications by Köppen himself, notably in 1918 and 1936...

 Bsh), due to the rain shadow effect of the Anti-Lebanon mountains and the prevailing ocean currents. Summers are dry and hot with less humidity. Winters are mild and comparatively rainy, sometimes snowy. Annual rainfall is around 220 mm (8.7 in), occurring from September to May.

Economy



The historical role that Damascus played as an important trade center has changed in recent years due to political development in the region as well as the development of modern trade. Most goods produced in Damascus, as well as in Syria, are distributed to Countries of the Arabian peninsula. Damascus also holds an annual international trade exposition in the fall since 1955.

Damascus has the potential for a highly successful tourism industry. The abundance of cultural wealth in Damascus has been modestly employed since the late 1980s with the development of many accommodation and transportation establishments and other related investments. Since the early 2000s, numerous boutique hotels and bustling cafes opened in the old city which attract plenty of European tourists and Damascenes alike.

The real-estate sector is booming in Damascus. Real-estate adviser Cushman & Wakefield listed Damascus office space as the eighth most expensive in the world in 2009. The office market in Damascus is rather immature and the demand for premium office space surpasses supply. However, new supply of office space is expected to be delivered in 2009.
Damascus is home to a wide range of industrial activity, such as Textile
Textile
A textile or cloth is a flexible woven material consisting of a network of natural or artificial fibres often referred to as thread or yarn. Yarn is produced by spinning raw fibres of wool, flax, cotton, or other material to produce long strands...

, food processing
Food processing
Food processing is the set of methods and techniques used to transform raw ingredients into food or to transform food into other forms for consumption by humans or animals either in the home or by the food processing industry...

, Cement
Cement
In the most general sense of the word, a cement is a binder, a substance that sets and hardens independently, and can bind other materials together. The word "cement" traces to the Romans, who used the term opus caementicium to describe masonry resembling modern concrete that was made from crushed...

 and various Chemical industries. The majority of factories are run by the state, however. Limited privatization
Privatization
Privatization is the incidence or process of transferring ownership of a business, enterprise, agency or public service from the public sector to the private sector or to private non-profit organizations...

 in addition to economic activities let by the private sector
Private sector
In economics, the private sector is that part of the economy, sometimes referred to as the citizen sector, which is run by private individuals or groups, usually as a means of enterprise for profit, and is not controlled by the state...

 were permitted starting in the early 2000s with the liberalization of trade that took place .
Traditional handcrafts and artisan copper engraving are still produced in the old city.

The Damascus stock exchange
Damascus Securities Exchange
The Damascus Securities Exchange is a stock exchange located in Damascus, Syria. Founded in 2009, it is the only stock exchange in Syria. Its current premises are in the Barzeh district, within Syria's financial markets and securities commission...

 formally opened for trade in March 2009, and the exchange is the only stock exchanges in Syria. It is currently located in the Barzeh district, within Syria's financial markets and securities commission. Its final home is to be the upmarket business district of Yaafur.

Demographics



The estimated population of Damascus in 2009 was 1,711,000. But Damascus is the centre of an over-crowded metropolitan area with an estimated population of 2.4 million. The metropolitan area of Damascus includes the cities of Duma
Duma
A Duma is any of various representative assemblies in modern Russia and Russian history. The State Duma in the Russian Empire and Russian Federation corresponds to the lower house of the parliament. Simply it is a form of Russian governmental institution, that was formed during the reign of the...

, Harasta
Harasta
Harasta , also known as Harasta al-Basal, is a Syrian city administratively belonging to Rif Dimashq. Harasta has an altitude of 702 meters. It has a population of 38,184 as of 2007, making it the 43rd largest city per geographical entity in Syria....

, Darayya
Darayya
Darayya , Countryside of Damascus , Syria is a Syrian city administratively belonging to Rif Dimashq. Darayya has an altitude of 689 meters. It has a population of 75,134 as of 2007, making it the 19th largest city per geographical entity in Syria...

, Al-Tall and Jaramana
Jaramana
Jaramana is a city in the Rif Dimashq Governorate in southern Syria.Its location, 10 Kilometers southeast of the Syrian capital, makes it a bustling town in the greater Damascus metropolitan area, with a Christian and Druze majority...

.

People


The majority of the population in Damascus came as a result of rural-urban migration
Urbanization
Urbanization, urbanisation or urban drift is the physical growth of urban areas as a result of global change. The United Nations projected that half of the world's population would live in urban areas at the end of 2008....

.

Religion


The majority of the inhabitants of Damascus—about 85%—are Sunni Muslims. It is believed that there are more than 2,000 mosques in Damascus, the most well-known being the Umayyad Mosque
Umayyad Mosque
The Umayyad Mosque, also known as the Great Mosque of Damascus or formerly the Basilica of Saint John the Baptist , is located in the old city of Damascus, is one of the largest and oldest mosques in the world...

. Christians
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 represent 10% of the population. There are few Christian districts in the city, such as Bab Tuma
Bab Tuma
Bab Tuma is a borough of Old Damascus in Syria, one of the gates inside the historical walls of the city, and a geographic landmark of Early Christianity...

, Qassaa and Ghassani, with many churches, most notably the ancient Chapel of Saint Paul
Chapel of Saint Paul
The Chapel of Saint Paul is a modern stone chapel in Damascus that incorporates materials from the Bab Kisan, the ancient city gate through which Paul was lowered out of a window in Acts 9:25.-History:...

. At the suburb Soufanieh
Our Lady of Soufanieh
Our Lady of Soufanieh refers to Marian apparitions reported to have occurred in Soufanieh, a suburb of Damascus in Syria.- History :The apparitions reportedly occurred on December of 1982, and January, February and March 1983...

 a series of apparitions of the Virgin Mary have reportedly been observed between 1982 and 2004.

There is a small Jewish community
Syrian Jews
Syrian Jews are Jews who inhabit the region of the modern state of Syria, and their descendants born outside Syria. Syrian Jews derive their origin from two groups: from the Jews who inhabited the region of today's Syria from ancient times Syrian Jews are Jews who inhabit the region of the modern...

 namely in what is called Haret al-Yahud the Jewish quarter. They are the remnants of an ancient and much larger Jewish presence in Syria
Syrian Jews
Syrian Jews are Jews who inhabit the region of the modern state of Syria, and their descendants born outside Syria. Syrian Jews derive their origin from two groups: from the Jews who inhabited the region of today's Syria from ancient times Syrian Jews are Jews who inhabit the region of the modern...

, dating back at least to Roman times, if not before to the time of King David.

Historical sites


Damascus has a wealth of historical sites dating back to many different periods of the city's history. Since the city has been built up with every passing occupation, it has become almost impossible to excavate all the ruins of Damascus that lie up to 8 feet (2.4 m) below the modern level. The Citadel of Damascus is located in the northwest corner of the Old City. The Damascus Straight Street (referred to in the conversion of St. Paul
Paul of Tarsus
Paul the Apostle , also known as Saul of Tarsus, is described in the Christian New Testament as one of the most influential early Christian missionaries, with the writings ascribed to him by the church forming a considerable portion of the New Testament...

 in Acts
Acts of the Apostles
The Acts of the Apostles , usually referred to simply as Acts, is the fifth book of the New Testament; Acts outlines the history of the Apostolic Age...

 9:11), also known as the Via Recta, was the decumanus (East-West main street) of Roman Damascus, and extended for over 1500 metres (4,921.3 ft). Today, it consists of the street of Bab Sharqi and the Souk Medhat Pasha, a covered market. The Bab Sharqi
Bab Sharqi
Bab Sharqi , also known as the Gate of the Sun, is one of the eight ancient city gates of Damascus, Syria, and the only original Roman gate still standing. Its modern name comes from its location in the eastern side of the city. The gate also gives its name to the christian quarter surrounding it...

 street is filled with small shops and leads to the old Christian quarter of Bab Tuma
Bab Tuma
Bab Tuma is a borough of Old Damascus in Syria, one of the gates inside the historical walls of the city, and a geographic landmark of Early Christianity...

 (St. Thomas's Gate). Medhat Pasha Souq
Medhat Pasha Souq
Medhat Pasha Souq is a historical souk which forms the western half of the Street Called Straight inside the old walled city of Damascus, Syria. It was named after the Ottoman governor of Syria Midhat Pasha who renovated it and ordered its coverage with a lead-shade...

 is also a main market in Damascus and was named after Midhat Pasha, the Ottoman governor of Syria who renovated the Souk. At the end of the Bab Sharqi street, one reaches the House of Ananias
House of Saint Ananias
The House of Saint Ananias is the ancient alleged house of Saint Ananias, in the old Christian quarter of Damascus, Syria. It is said by some to be the house where Ananias baptized Saul ....

, an underground chapel that was the cellar of Ananias
Ananias of Damascus
Ananias , was a disciple of Jesus at Damascus mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles in the Bible, which describes how he was sent by Jesus to restore the sight of "Saul, of Tarsus" and provide him with additional instruction in the way of the...

's house.
The Umayyad Mosque
Umayyad Mosque
The Umayyad Mosque, also known as the Great Mosque of Damascus or formerly the Basilica of Saint John the Baptist , is located in the old city of Damascus, is one of the largest and oldest mosques in the world...

, also known as the Grand Mosque of Damascus, is one of the largest mosques in the world and also one of the oldest sites of continuous prayer since the rise of Islam. A shrine in the mosque is said to contain the body of St. John the Baptist. The mausoleum
Mausoleum of Saladin
The Mausoleum of Saladin holds the resting place and grave of the medieval Ayyubid Sultan Saladin. It is located next to the northwest corner of the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, Syria. The mausoleum was built in 1196, three years after the death of Saladin...

 where Saladin
Saladin
Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb , better known in the Western world as Saladin, was an Arabized Kurdish Muslim, who became the first Sultan of Egypt and Syria, and founded the Ayyubid dynasty. He led Muslim and Arab opposition to the Franks and other European Crusaders in the Levant...

 was buried is located in the gardens just outside the mosque. Sayyidah Ruqayya Mosque
Sayyidah Ruqayya Mosque
Sayyidah Ruqayya Mosque is a shrine located in Damascus, Syria, that contains the grave of Sukayna , the infant daughter of Husayn ibn ‘Alī....

, the shrine of the youngest daughter of Husayn ibn Ali
Husayn ibn Ali
Hussein ibn ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib ‎ was the son of ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib and Fātimah Zahrā...

, can also be found near the Umayyad Mosque. The ancient district of Amara
Amara District
Amara District is a district of the Maysan Governorate, Iraq....

 is also within a walking distance from these sites. Another heavily visited site is Sayyidah Zaynab Mosque
Sayyidah Zaynab Mosque
Sayyidah Zaynab Mosque is a shrine located in Damascus, Syria, that contains the grave of Zaynab daughter of ‘Alī and Fātimah, and granddaughter of Muhammad ....

, where the tomb of Zaynab bint Ali
Zaynab bint Ali
Zaynab bint Ali was the daughter of the Rashid Caliph and first Shi'i Imam, Ali and granddaughter of the Islamic prophet Muhammad through his daughter Fatimah....

 is located.

Shia/fatemid/dawoodi bohra believe that after Karbala battle(680) Ummayad caliph Yazid brought Imam Husain 's head in Damascus, it was first buried in the courtyard of Umayyad Mosque
Umayyad Mosque
The Umayyad Mosque, also known as the Great Mosque of Damascus or formerly the Basilica of Saint John the Baptist , is located in the old city of Damascus, is one of the largest and oldest mosques in the world...

 yezid mahal,shrine of the same still exist(see photo of the renovated shrine at right) . All other remaining member of husain's Family (left live after Karbala battle)along with heads of all other companions, who were killed at Karbala were also brought to Damascus,sham. These members were kept as prisoner at outskirt of city (Near Bab al-Saghir),the other heads were buried at the same location, now called "Raous-us-sohda-e-karbala " (photo placed at right), now visited by all shia.There is qibla( place of worship) marked at place, where Imam Ali-Zain-ul-Abedin use to pray under this captivity (pl.see photo,right). These are very important Islamic historical incident related with Damascus.

The walls and gates of Damascus



The Old City of Damascus with an approximate area of 128 hectares is surrounded by ramparts on the northern and eastern sides and part of the southern side. There are seven extant city gates, the oldest of which dates back to the Roman period. These are, clockwise from the north of the citadel:
  • Bab al-Saghir (The Small Gate)
  • Bab al-Faradis
    Bab al-Faradis
    Bab al-Faradis or Bab al-Amara is one of the eight ancient city-gates of Damascus, Syria. One of the city's northern gates, it was named "the paradise gate" in the Roman age because it was surrounded by numerous water sources and gardens...

     ("the gate of the orchards", or "of the paradise")
  • Bab al-Salam
    Bab al-Salam
    Bab al-Salam is one of the eight ancient city-gates of Damascus, Syria.-External links:*...

     ("the gate of peace"), all on the north boundary of the Old City
  • Bab Tuma
    Bab Tuma
    Bab Tuma is a borough of Old Damascus in Syria, one of the gates inside the historical walls of the city, and a geographic landmark of Early Christianity...

     ("Touma" or "Thomas's Gate") in the north-east corner, leading into the Christian quarter of the same name,
  • Bab Sharqi
    Bab Sharqi
    Bab Sharqi , also known as the Gate of the Sun, is one of the eight ancient city gates of Damascus, Syria, and the only original Roman gate still standing. Its modern name comes from its location in the eastern side of the city. The gate also gives its name to the christian quarter surrounding it...

     ("eastern gate") in the east wall, the only one to retain its Roman plan
  • Bab Kisan
    Bab Kisan
    Bab Kisan is one of the eight ancient city-gates of Damascus, Syria. The gate, which is now located in the southeastern part of the Old City, was named in memory of a slave who became famous during a conquest by the Caliph Mu'awiya. The wall was built during the Roman era and was dedicated to Saturn...

     in the south-east, from which tradition holds that Saint Paul made his escape from Damascus, lowered from the ramparts in a basket; this gate is now closed and a chapel marking the event has been built into the structure,
  • Bab al-Jabiya
    Bab al-Jabiya
    Bab al-Jabiya or the Gate of Jupiter is one of the eight ancient city-gates of Damascus, Syria. Bab al-Jabiya was the main entrance on the city's west side. The gate opens on Medhat Pasha Souq, which is the modern western half of the Street Called Straight, the Roman east-west artery, which still...

     at the entrance to Souk Midhat Pasha, in the south-west.


Other areas outside the walled city also bear the name "gate": Bab al-Faraj
Bab al-Faraj (Damascus)
Bab al-Faraj is one of the seven ancient city-gates of Damascus, Syria. It is situated in the northern side of the city. It consists of a geminate gate which had two functions; the first was economic and the second was to mislead the enemies attacking the city.-External links:*...

, Bab Mousalla and Bab Sreija, both to the south-west of the walled city.

Churches in the old city

  • Chapel of Saint Paul
    Chapel of Saint Paul
    The Chapel of Saint Paul is a modern stone chapel in Damascus that incorporates materials from the Bab Kisan, the ancient city gate through which Paul was lowered out of a window in Acts 9:25.-History:...

  • House of Saint Ananias
    House of Saint Ananias
    The House of Saint Ananias is the ancient alleged house of Saint Ananias, in the old Christian quarter of Damascus, Syria. It is said by some to be the house where Ananias baptized Saul ....

  • Mariamite Cathedral of Damascus
    Mariamite Cathedral of Damascus
    Mariamite Cathedral of Damascus is one of the oldest Greek Orthodox churches in Damascus, Syria and holds the seat of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch. The church complex is located on the Street Called Straight.-History:...

  • The Roman Catholic Cathedral in Zaitoon (Olive) Alley
  • Saint Johnn the Damascene Church
  • Saint Paul's Laura
  • Saint George's Syriac Orthodox Church


Islamic sites in the old city

  • Umayyad Mosque
    Umayyad Mosque
    The Umayyad Mosque, also known as the Great Mosque of Damascus or formerly the Basilica of Saint John the Baptist , is located in the old city of Damascus, is one of the largest and oldest mosques in the world...

  • Sayyidah Ruqayya Mosque
    Sayyidah Ruqayya Mosque
    Sayyidah Ruqayya Mosque is a shrine located in Damascus, Syria, that contains the grave of Sukayna , the infant daughter of Husayn ibn ‘Alī....

  • Bab Saghir
    Bab Saghir
    Bāb Saghīr , also called "Goristan-e-Ghariban", is an ancient cemetery and street in Damascus, Syria, with tombs on either side of the road...

     Cemetery
  • Saladin
    Saladin
    Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb , better known in the Western world as Saladin, was an Arabized Kurdish Muslim, who became the first Sultan of Egypt and Syria, and founded the Ayyubid dynasty. He led Muslim and Arab opposition to the Franks and other European Crusaders in the Levant...

     Shrine


Old Damascene houses

  • Azm Palace
    Azm Palace
    Azem Palace is a palace in Damascus, Syria which was originally built in 1750 as a residence for the Ottoman governor of Damascus As'ad Pasha al-Azm. The palace now houses the Museum of Arts and Popular Traditions.-Architecture:...

  • Bayt al-Aqqad
    Bayt al-Aqqad
    Bayt al-Aqqad is an old Damascene house that hosts the Danish Institute in Damascus, Syria. The history of the building is more than 2000 years: Remains of the theatre of Herod the Great were found in the outer walls and now forms a part of the wall in the secretary’s office...

     (Danish Institute in Damascus)
  • Maktab Anbar
    Maktab Anbar
    Maktab Anbar is an old house in the center of Old Damascus near the Umayyad Mosque and a short distance from the Street Called Straight. The house was built as a private residence by a local Jewish notable Mr. Anbar in the mid 19th century...

  • Beit al-Mamlouka
    Beit al-Mamlouka Hotel
    Beit al-Mamlouka is a luxury boutique hotel located in the old city of Damascus, Syria. The first boutique hotel in Syria, it was established in 2005 in the city's oldest borough, the Christian quarter of Bab Touma Beit al-Mamlouka is a luxury boutique hotel located in the old city of Damascus,...

     (Boutique Hotel)

Threats to the future of the old City



Due to the rapid decline of the population of Old Damascus (between 1995–2005 more than 20,000 people moved out of the old city for more modern accommodation), a growing number of buildings are being abandoned or are falling into disrepair. In March 2007, the local government announced that it would be demolishing Old City buildings along a 1400 metres (4,593.2 ft) stretch of rampart walls as part of a redevelopment scheme. These factors resulted in the Old City being placed by the World Monuments Fund
World Monuments Fund
World Monuments Fund is a private, international, non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of historic architecture and cultural heritage sites around the world through fieldwork, advocacy, grantmaking, education, and training....

 on its 2008 Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites in the world. It is hoped that its inclusion on the list will draw more public awareness to these significant threats to the future of the historic Old City of Damascus.

Current state of old Damascus


In spite of the recommendations of the UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 World Heritage Center:
  • Souk El Atik, a protected buffer zone, was destroyed in three days in November 2006;
  • King Faysal Street, a traditional hand-craft region in a protected buffer zone near the walls of Old Damascus between the Citadel and Bab Touma, is threatened by a proposed motorway.
  • In 2007, the Old City of Damascus and notably the district of Bab Tuma
    Bab Tuma
    Bab Tuma is a borough of Old Damascus in Syria, one of the gates inside the historical walls of the city, and a geographic landmark of Early Christianity...

     have been recognized by The World Monument Fund as one of the most endangered sites in the world.


In October 2010, Global Heritage Fund
Global Heritage Fund
Global Heritage Fund is a non-profit organization that operates internationally. Its mission statement says that it exists to protect and preserve significant and endangered cultural heritage sites in the developing world, through scientific excellence and community development...

 named Damascus one of 12 cultural heritage sites
Cultural heritage
Cultural heritage is the legacy of physical artifacts and intangible attributes of a group or society that are inherited from past generations, maintained in the present and bestowed for the benefit of future generations...

 most "on the verge" of irreparable loss and destruction.

Subdivisions



Damascus is divided into many districts. Among them there are:
  • Abbasiyyin
  • Abu Rummaneh
    Abu Rummaneh
    Abu Rummaneh is an upscale neighborhood west of Damascus, Syria. The quarter is centered around the palm-tree-lined Abu Rummaneh boulevard, known officially as al-Jalaa Boulevard, named for the evacuation of French mandate troops from Syria. The neighborhood serves as Damascus' diplomatic quarter,...

  • Al-Afif
  • Al-Jisr Al-Abyad
  • Amara
  • Bahsa
  • Baramkah
  • Barzeh
  • Dummar
    Dummar
    Dummar is a suburb of Damascus. Its construction began in the 1970s and the first residents moved in during the mid 1980s. Dummar is located 5 km west of Damascus....

  • Ibn Asaker
  • Jobar
    Jobar
    Jobar also spelled Jawbar, historically a village on the outskirts of Damascus, Syria, is now a suburb of the capital city. It lies 2 km northeast of the old city walls...

  • Kafar Souseh
  • Malki
  • Mazraa
  • Mezzeh
    Mezzeh
    Mezzeh is a relatively new neighborhood of Damascus, Syria. It lies to the southwest of central Damascus, along the Mezzeh highway. It started gaining importance when the French constructed the Mezzeh military airport there, which was the main airport in Damascus until Damascus International...

  • Al-Midan
    Al-Midan
    Al-Midan is a neighborhood located in Damascus, Syria. It lies just south of the old walled city of Damascus very to close to the modern city center. It's streets and alleys are full of heritage and history due to the age of the neighborhood...

  • Muhajreen
  • Qanawat
  • Qassaa'
  • Rukn Eddeen
  • Al-Salihiyah
    Al-Salihiyah
    Al-Salihiyah is a neighborhood of Damascus, Syria. It lies to the north and northwest of the old walled city of Damascus about from the Citadel at the foot of Mount Qasioun. The quarter is famous for its cemetery of holy men. It houses the Parliament building. It has also has the Hanabila Mosque....

  • Sarouja
    Sarouja
    Sarouja is a subdivision of Damascus, Syria....

  • Sha'alan
    Sha'alan
    Sha'alan is a neighbourhood of Damascus, Syria.When the Abu Nidal Organization moved its operations into Syria in the 1980s, it established its head office in Sha'alan. The organization expanded the facility so it included a prison, a technical unit that forged passports, and the Intelligence...

  • Al-Shaghour
    Al-Shaghour
    Al-Shaghour is a neighborhood located in the old walled city of Damascus, Syria. Al-Shaghour is one of the oldest recorded neighborhoods in the city. Parts of the neighborhood made up the Jewish quarter, as it had the largest Jewish community in the city. The neighborhood is also home for many of...

  • Tijara
  • Zablatani


Education



Damascus is the main center of education in Syria. It is home to Damascus University, which is the oldest and largest university in Syria. After the enactment of legislation allowing private secondary institutions, several new universities were established in the city and in the surrounding area, including:
  • Syrian Virtual University
    Syrian Virtual University
    The Syrian Virtual University is a Syrian educational institution established by the Syrian Ministry of Higher Education. It provides virtual education to students from around the world. It was established on the 2nd of September 2002 and is the first virtual education institution in the region,...

  • International University for Science and Technology
    International University for Science and Technology
    International University for Science and Technology is a private university located in Oum El Qusur, thirty five kilometers away from the center of Damascus, Syria.-Faculties:IUST includes six faculties:*Business and Finance*Information Technology...

  • Higher Institute of Business Administration
  • Higher Institute for Applied Science and Technology
    Higher Institute for Applied Science and Technology
    The Higher Institute for Applied Science and Technology is an engineering and technology institute in Damascus, Syria.It was founded in 1983 and offers the degrees of Graduate Diploma, Master and Doctorate....

  • University of Kalamoon
    University of Kalamoon
    The University of Kalamoon is a private higher education institution, located 80 km north of the Syrian capital Damascus, within the city of Deir Atieh in the Kalamoon Zone...

  • Arab International University
    Arab International University
    The Arab International University is a private university that was founded in 2005 by a number of Academics, Arab, Syrian and foreign Business men and trade unions. It was created under Presidential Decree No. 193 Date 06/05/2005. Located on the road between Damascus and Daraa, at about 37...

  • National Institute of Administration

Transportation


The main airport is Damascus International Airport
Damascus International Airport
Damascus International Airport is a public airport located in Damascus, the capital of Syria. Officially opened in the mid 1970s, DAM is Syria's busiest international airport. The airport is experiencing significant annual passenger growth rates...

, approximately 20 kilometres (12.4 mi) away from the city vijayawada, with connections to many Asian, European, African, and recently, South American cities.
Streets in Damascus are often narrow, especially in the older parts of the city, and speed bumps are widely used to limit the speed of vehicles.

Public transport in Damascus depends extensively on minibuses. There are about one hundred lines that operate inside the city and some of them extend from the city center to nearby suburbs. There is no schedule for the lines, and due to the limited number of official bus stop
Bus stop
A bus stop is a designated place where buses stop for passengers to board or leave a bus. These are normally positioned on the highway and are distinct from off-highway facilities such as bus stations. The construction of bus stops tends to reflect the level of usage...

s, buses will usually stop wherever a passenger needs to get on or off. The number of buses serving the same line is relatively high, which minimizes the waiting time. Lines are not numbered, rather they are given captions mostly indicating the two end points and possibly an important station along the line and Taxicab
Taxicab
A taxicab, also taxi or cab, is a type of vehicle for hire with a driver, used by a single passenger or small group of passengers, often for a non-shared ride. A taxicab conveys passengers between locations of their choice...

.

Served by Chemins de Fer Syriens
Chemins de Fer Syriens
Chemins de Fer Syriens is the national railway operator for the state of Syria, headquartered in Aleppo.-History:The first railway in Syria opened when the country was part of the Ottoman Empire, with the gauge line from Damascus to the port city of Beirut in present day Lebanon opened in 1895...

, the former main railway station of Damascus was al-Hejaz railway station, about 1 km west of the old city. The station is now defunct and the tracks have been removed, but there still is a ticket counter and a shuttle to Damacus Kadam station in the south of the city, which now functions as the main railway station.
In 2008, the government announced a plan to construct a Damascus Metro
Damascus Metro
The Damascus Metro is a proposed Metro line network in Damascus, Syria scheduled to open in early 2016. The Green Line will be the first step of development of the future public transport network....

 with opening time for the green line scheduled for 2015. The green line will be an essential West-East axis for the future public transportation network, serving Moadamiyeh, Sumariyeh, Mezzeh, Damascus University, Hijaz, the Old City, Abbassiyeen and Qaboun Pullman bus station. A four-line metro network is expected be in operation by 2050.

Culture



Damascus was chosen as the 2008 Arab Capital of Culture. The Arab Capital of Culture is an initiative undertaken by UNESCO, under the Cultural Capitals Program to promote and celebrate Arab culture and encourage cooperation in the Arab region. The preparation for the festivity began in February 2007 with the establishing of the Administrative Committee for "Damascus Arab Capital of Culture" by a presidential decree.

Syrian Cuisine



The Syrian cuisine is rich and varies in its ingredients which is linked to the region of Syria where a specific dish has originated. The main dishes are kibbeh
Kibbeh
Kibbeh or kibbe is an Arab dish made of bulgur or rice and chopped meat. The best-known variety is a torpedo-shaped fried croquette stuffed with minced beef or lamb. Other types of kibbeh may be shaped into balls or patties, and baked or cooked in broth.Kibbeh is a popular dish in Levantine...

, hummus
Hummus
Hummus is high in iron and vitamin C and also has significant amounts of folate and vitamin B6. The chickpeas make it a good source of protein and dietary fiber; the tahini consists mostly of sesame seeds, which are an excellent source of the amino acid methionine, complementing the proteins in the...

, tabbouleh, fattoush
Fattoush
Fattoush is a Levantine bread salad made from toasted or fried pieces of pita bread combined with mixed greens and other vegetables. Fattoush belongs to the family of dishes known as fattat or fatta, which are made in the Levant by Arab cooks using stale flatbread as a base...

, labneh
Strained yoghurt
Strained yoghurt, yoghurt cheese, labneh, or Greek yoghurt is yoghurt which has been strained in a cloth or paper bag or filter to remove the whey, giving a consistency between that of yoghurt and cheese, while preserving yoghurt's distinctive sour taste...

, mujaddara
Mujaddara
Mujaddara consists of cooked lentils together with groats, generally rice, and garnished with roasted onions that have been sauteed in olive oil or butter.-Name and origin:...

, shanklish
Shanklish
Shanklish , also known as shinklish, shankleesh, sorke, or sürke, is a type of cow's milk or sheep milk cheese in Levantine. It is typically formed into balls of approximately 6 cm diameter, which are often covered in za'atar and Aleppo pepper, and then aged and dried...

 and ba'lawa
Baklava
Baklava is a rich, sweet pastry made of layers of filo pastry filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey. It is characteristic of the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire and much of central and southwest Asia....

. Ba'lawa
Baklava
Baklava is a rich, sweet pastry made of layers of filo pastry filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey. It is characteristic of the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire and much of central and southwest Asia....

 is made of filo pastry filled with chopped nuts and soaked in honey
Honey
Honey is a sweet food made by bees using nectar from flowers. The variety produced by honey bees is the one most commonly referred to and is the type of honey collected by beekeepers and consumed by humans...

. Syrians often serve selections of appetizers, known as meze
Meze
Meze or mezze is a selection of small dishes served in the Mediterranean and Middle East as dinner or lunch, with or without drinks. In Levantine cuisines and in the Caucasus region, meze is served at the beginning of all large-scale meals....

, before the main course. za'atar
Za'atar
Za'atar is a generic name for a family of related Middle Eastern herbs from the genera Origanum , Calamintha , Thymus vulgaris and Satureja . It is also the name for a condiment made from the dried herb, mixed together with sesame seeds, dried sumac, and often salt, as well as other spices...

, minced beef, and cheese manakish
Manakish
Manakish, also manaqish, manaeesh or manakeesh or in singular form man'ousheh is a popular Levantine food consisting of dough topped with thyme, cheese, or ground meat. Similar to a pizza, it can be sliced or folded, and it can either be served for breakfast or lunch...

 are popular hors d'œuvres. The Arabic flatbread khubz
Khubz
Khubz, khoubz or khobz , an Arabic word for bread, but usually used by non-Arabic speakers to refer to a flatbread that forms a staple of the local diet in Arabic-speaking countries from the Arabian Peninsula to Morocco....

 is always eaten together with meze
Meze
Meze or mezze is a selection of small dishes served in the Mediterranean and Middle East as dinner or lunch, with or without drinks. In Levantine cuisines and in the Caucasus region, meze is served at the beginning of all large-scale meals....

. Syrians are also well known for their cheese
Syrian cheese
There are numerous different kinds of Syrian cheese. Some of the most common are:*Baladi , soft-white, smooth, creamy cheese has a mild flavor. The cheese tastes delicious spread on fresh bread or crackers. It is eaten for breakfast or snacks....

. The very popular string cheese jibbneh mashallale is made of curd cheese and is pulled and twisted together. Syrians also make cookies to usually accompany their cheese called ka'ak
Ka'ak
Ka'ak or Kahqa is the Arabic word for "cake", and can refer to several different types of baked goods produced throughout the Arab world and the Near East.-Bread rings:...

. These are made of farina
Farina (food)
Farina is a cereal food, frequently described as mild-tasting, usually served warm, made from cereal grains. In contemporary American English use, the word usually refers to Cream of Wheat made from soft wheat. Wheat farina is a carbohydrate-rich food, often cooked in boiling water and served warm...

 and other ingredients, rolled out, shaped into rings and baked. Another form of a similar cookie is to fill with crushed dates mixed with butter to accompany their jibbneh mashallale. Drinks in Syria vary depending on the time of the day and the occasion. Arabic coffee
Arabic coffee
Arabic coffee is a general name that refers to the way coffee is prepared in many Arab Gulf countries.There are two main ways of preparing Arabic coffee. Traditional coffee brewing, more common in Najd and Hijaz, is flavor-rich with cardamom, and sometimes other spices like saffron , cloves, and...

, also known as Turkish coffee
Turkish coffee
Turkish coffee is a method of preparing coffee where finely powdered roast coffee beans are boiled in a pot , with sugar according to taste, before being served into a cup where the dregs settle...

 is the most well-known hot drink usually prepared in the morning at breakfast or in the evening. it is usually served for guests or after food. Alcoholic drink Arak
Arak (distilled beverage)
Arak or Araq , is a highly alcoholic spirit from the anis drinks family. It is a clear, colorless, unsweetened anise-flavoured distilled alcoholic drink...

 is also a well-known beverage served mostly in occasions. more examples of Syrian beverages include Ayran
Ayran
Ayran or laban is a cold beverage of yogurt mixed with cold water and sometimes salt; it is popular in many Central Asian, Middle Eastern and South-eastern European countries....

, Jallab
Jallab
Jallab is a type of syrup popular in the Middle East made from carob, dates, grape molasses and rose water.In Syria, Palestine and Lebanon Jallab is very popular. It is made mainly of grape molasses and artificial coloring, then smoked with Arabic incense. It is usually sold with crushed ice and...

, and White coffee
White coffee
White coffee can refer to any of a number of coffee or herbal tea beverages worldwide.- Coffee with whitener :In many English-speaking countries, "white coffee" is used to refer to regular black coffee that has had milk, cream or some other "whitener" added to it, though the term is almost entirely...

. There is also a locally manufactured beer called Barada.

Museums


  • National Museum of Damascus
    National Museum of Damascus
    The National Museum of Damascus is a large museum in the heart of Damascus, Syria. The most popular part of the museum is the reconstruction of the 2nd century CE Dura-Europos synagogue.- Location :...

  • Azem Palace
  • Military Museum
  • October war Panorama Museum
  • Museum of Arabic Calligraphy
  • Nur al-Din Bimaristan
    Nur al-Din Bimaristan
    Nur al-Din Bimaristan is a large medieval bimaristan in Damascus, Syria. It is located in the al-Hariqa quarter in the old walled city, to the southwest of the Umayyad Mosque. It was built and named after the Zengid Sultan Nur ad-Din in 1154...


Sports



Popular sports include football, basketball
Basketball
Basketball is a team sport in which two teams of five players try to score points by throwing or "shooting" a ball through the top of a basketball hoop while following a set of rules...

, swimming
Swimming (sport)
Swimming is a sport governed by the Fédération Internationale de Natation .-History: Competitive swimming in Europe began around 1800 BCE, mostly in the form of the freestyle. In 1873 Steve Bowyer introduced the trudgen to Western swimming competitions, after copying the front crawl used by Native...

 and table tennis
Table tennis
Table tennis, also known as ping-pong, is a sport in which two or four players hit a lightweight, hollow ball back and forth using table tennis rackets. The game takes place on a hard table divided by a net...

. Damascus is home to many sports clubs, including Al Jaish, Al Wahda and Al Majd.

The fifth
1976 Pan Arab Games
The 5th Pan Arab Games were held in Damascus, Syria between October 6 and October 21, 1976. 2174 athletes from 11 countries participated in events in 18 sports.- Medals won by country :...

 and the seventh
1992 Pan Arab Games
The 7th Pan Arab Games were held in Damascus, Syria between October 4 and October 18, 1992. 2611 athletes from 18 countries participated in events in 14 sports....

 Pan Arab Games
Pan Arab Games
The Arab Games are a regional multi-sport event held between nations from the Arab World. They are organized by the Union of Arab National Olympic Committees. The first Games took place in 1953 in Alexandria, Egypt. Intended to be held every four years since, political turmoil as well as financial...

 were held in Damascus in 1976 and 1992, respectively.

Leisure activities


Coffeehouses, where—in addition to Arabic coffee
Arabic coffee
Arabic coffee is a general name that refers to the way coffee is prepared in many Arab Gulf countries.There are two main ways of preparing Arabic coffee. Traditional coffee brewing, more common in Najd and Hijaz, is flavor-rich with cardamom, and sometimes other spices like saffron , cloves, and...

 and tea—nargileh (water pipes) are served, proliferate Damascus. Card game
Card game
A card game is any game using playing cards as the primary device with which the game is played, be they traditional or game-specific. Countless card games exist, including families of related games...

s, tables
Tables (board game)
Tables is a general name given to a class of board games similar to backgammon, played on a board with two rows of 12 vertical markings called "points". Players roll dice to determine the movement of pieces...

 (backgammon
Backgammon
Backgammon is one of the oldest board games for two players. The playing pieces are moved according to the roll of dice, and players win by removing all of their pieces from the board. There are many variants of backgammon, most of which share common traits...

 variants), and chess
Chess
Chess is a two-player board game played on a chessboard, a square-checkered board with 64 squares arranged in an eight-by-eight grid. It is one of the world's most popular games, played by millions of people worldwide at home, in clubs, online, by correspondence, and in tournaments.Each player...

 are activities frequented in cafes.

Tishreen Park is by far the largest park in Damascus. It is home to the yearly held Damascus Flower Show. Other parks include Aljahiz, Al sibbki, Altijara and Alwahda. Damascus' Ghouta
Ghouta
Ghouta , is a collection of farms in Rif Dimashq close to the eastern part of Damascus, Syria.The Damascus Ghouta is a green agricultural belt surrounding the city of Damascus in the South and East. Separating the city from the Syrian Steppe, it has provided its inhabitants with a variety of...

 (Oasis) is also a popular destination for recreation. There are several recreation centers in Damascus including several stadiums, swimming pools and golf courses. Also, The Syrian Arab Horse Association in Damasacus offers a wide range of activities and services for horse breeders and riders.

Nearby attractions


List of mosques
  • Madaya
    Madaya, Syria
    Madaya is a small mountainous town in Syria, located at an altitude of 1,608 meters. It is a well known holiday resort. It is located about 40 km northwest of Damascus in the Rif Dimashq Governorate and is home to Lake Barada...

    : a small mountainous town well known holiday resort.
  • Bloudan
    Bloudan
    Bloudan is a Syrian town located 51 kilometers north-west of the Damascus Governorate, in the Rif Dimashq Governorate and has an altitude of about 1500 meters....

    : a town located 51 km north-west of the Damascus, its moderate temperature and low humidity in summer attracts many visitors from Damascus and throughout Syria, Lebanon and the Persian Gulf
    Persian Gulf
    The Persian Gulf, in Southwest Asia, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.The Persian Gulf was the focus of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers...

    .
  • Zabadani
    Zabadani
    Zabadani is a city in southwestern Syria in the Rif Dimashq Governorate, close to the border with Lebanon. It is located in the center of a green valley surrounded by high mountains at an elevation of around 1,100 m....

    : a city in close to the border with Lebanon. Its mild weather along with the scenic views, made the town a popular resort both for tourists and for visitors from other Syrian cities.
  • Maaloula: a town dominated by speakers of Western Neo-Aramaic
    Western Neo-Aramaic
    Western Neo-Aramaic is a modern Aramaic language. Today, it is spoken in three villages in the Anti-Lebanon mountains of western Syria. Western Neo-Aramaic is the only modern living Aramaic language drawn from the branch of Western Aramaic languages...

    .
  • Saidnaya
    Saidnaya
    Saidnaya is a city located in the mountains, 1500 metres above sea level, north of the city of Damascus in Syria and was one of the episcopal cities of the ancient Patriarchate of Antioch...

    : a city located in the mountains, 1500 metres (4,921 ft) above sea level
    Above mean sea level
    The term above mean sea level refers to the elevation or altitude of any object, relative to the average sea level datum. AMSL is used extensively in radio by engineers to determine the coverage area a station will be able to reach...

    , it was one of the episcopal cities of the ancient Patriarchate of Antioch.

Twin towns and sister cities


Dubai
Dubai
Dubai is a city and emirate in the United Arab Emirates . The emirate is located south of the Persian Gulf on the Arabian Peninsula and has the largest population with the second-largest land territory by area of all the emirates, after Abu Dhabi...

, United Arab Emirates
United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates, abbreviated as the UAE, or shortened to "the Emirates", is a state situated in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia on the Persian Gulf, bordering Oman, and Saudi Arabia, and sharing sea borders with Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and Iran.The UAE is a...

 Toledo, Spain
Toledo, Spain
Toledo's Alcázar became renowned in the 19th and 20th centuries as a military academy. At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 its garrison was famously besieged by Republican forces.-Economy:...

 Tripoli, Lebanon
Tripoli, Lebanon
Tripoli is the largest city in northern Lebanon and the second-largest city in Lebanon. Situated 85 km north of the capital Beirut, Tripoli is the capital of the North Governorate and the Tripoli District. Geographically located on the east of the Mediterranean, the city's history dates back...

Córdoba, Spain
Córdoba, Spain
-History:The first trace of human presence in the area are remains of a Neanderthal Man, dating to c. 32,000 BC. In the 8th century BC, during the ancient Tartessos period, a pre-urban settlement existed. The population gradually learned copper and silver metallurgy...

 São Paulo
São Paulo
São Paulo is the largest city in Brazil, the largest city in the southern hemisphere and South America, and the world's seventh largest city by population. The metropolis is anchor to the São Paulo metropolitan area, ranked as the second-most populous metropolitan area in the Americas and among...

, Brazil Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

, Turkey Yerevan
Yerevan
Yerevan is the capital and largest city of Armenia and one of the world's oldest continuously-inhabited cities. Situated along the Hrazdan River, Yerevan is the administrative, cultural, and industrial center of the country...

, Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

, since 1997 Fars Province, Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 Ningxia
Ningxia
Ningxia, formerly transliterated as Ningsia, is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China. Located in Northwest China, on the Loess Plateau, the Yellow River flows through this vast area of land. The Great Wall of China runs along its northeastern boundary...

 Region, People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 Ankara
Ankara
Ankara is the capital of Turkey and the country's second largest city after Istanbul. The city has a mean elevation of , and as of 2010 the metropolitan area in the entire Ankara Province had a population of 4.4 million....

, Turkey since 2010 Medan
Medan
- Demography :The city is Indonesia's fourth most populous after Jakarta, Surabaya, and Bandung, and Indonesia's largest city outside of Java island. Much of the population lies outside its city limits, especially in Deli Serdang....

, Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

,since August 2011

Popular Culture


Damascus is one of the settings for the 2007 Ubisoft
Ubisoft
Ubisoft Entertainment S.A. is a major French video game publisher and developer, with headquarters in Montreuil, France. The company has a worldwide presence with 25 studios in 17 countries and subsidiaries in 26 countries....

 game Assassin's Creed
Assassin's Creed
Assassin's Creed is an award-winning historical third person, stealth action-adventure video game developed by Ubisoft for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows. The bulk of the game takes place during the Third Crusade, with the plot revolving around a sect known as the Secret Order of...

.

External links