Damascus, Syria - Wontra Travels

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Welcome to Damascus

Damascus

Ancient City of Damascus (Arabic - Dimashq)

  • Land Area: 105 km2 (41 sq mi); Urban - 77 km2 (29.73 sq mi)
  • Elevation: 680 m (2,230 ft)
  • Currency: Syrian Pound (SYP)
  • Languages: Arabic
  • Population: About 4.5 million
  • Time Zone: EET (UTC +2)/EEST (UTC +3)

Praised for its lushness and natural beauty, Damascus is the federal capital of Syria and recently, the country's largest city replacing the war torn Aleppo. According to history, among the ancient cities of the world, Damascus is perhaps the oldest continuously inhabited. It has been called the ‘Pearl of the East’, nicknamed – al-Fayḥāʾ ('the Fragrant') and fondly called Ash-Sham by locals.

Located in the south-western part of Syria, Damascus is the seat of the central government and all of the government ministries. AUNESCO World Heritage site, the old city is divided into the market area, Muslim area, Christian area and the Jewish area.

Some of the most important landmarks in Damascus are: Umayyad Mosque, Azem Palace, St. Ananias Church, Damascus Citadel, Old Souqs like Al-Hamidieyeh and Midhat Pasha, Bimarstan Al-Nory, Saladin's Tomb, St. Paul Church, and Al-Takieh Al-Suleimaniyeh.

Information & Facts

Climate

Damascus has a cold semi-arid climate (BSk) in Köppen-Geiger system, 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 cool and somewhat rainy; snowfall is infrequent. Annual rainfall is around 130 mm (5 in), occurring from October to May.

Getting Around

  • Unlike most destinations, the best way to get around Damascus is by foot.
  • Micro buses, also known as servees, and Taxis are other sources of transportation.
  • Renting a car is not a very good idea in Damascus. Most times, especially in summer, there is always traffic jam and parking tends to be difficult too; although that isn't the situation in suburbs.

Language

Arabic is the official language of Syria. Several modern Arabic dialects are used in everyday life, most notably Levantine in the west and Mesopotamian in the northeast. Kurdish (in its Kurmanji form) is widely spoken in the Kurdish regions of Syria

Money

The Syrian Pound (SYP) is the official currency of Syria. It is issued by the Central Bank of Syria. The pound is subdivided into 100 qirsh, although coins in qirsh are no longer issued. ATM machines are available in small number across the town.

Night Life

Nightlife in Damascus is relatively quiet. 

Restaurants

Every year Syrian cuisine becomes more and more popular and attracts many new fans. The best way to enjoy delicious national dishes is to visit one of numerous restaurants in Damascus. Restaurants in Damascus are classified into Expensive, Moderate and Cheap pricing categories. These are some of the popular restaurants to exoplore when in the city – Gemini, Naranj, Club d'Orient, Al-Dar 111, Arabesque, Beit Jabri and Leila's.

Shopping

Shopaholics visiting Damascus will be pleasantly surprised by the sheer abundance and variety of goods on sale. Since stores are not dependent on the patronage of foreign clientele, customers are allowed to browse and window shop in peace, till they are ready to by.

Damascus is one of the better shopping spots in the Middle East as prices are much lower than most other tourist spots.

Sightseeing

THE GREAT MOSQUE OF DAMASCUS

The Great Umayyad Mosque is first monumental work of architecture in Islamic history; and it's as impressive today as it was when it was first built in the eighth century.

THE OLD CITY

Within walking distance of Four Seasons Hotel Damascus is the old walled city. Wander down its narrow streets and walk past centuries of history: Roman columns, spice-scented souks, mosques and the Christian quarter.

AZEM PALACE

Not to be missed, this former residence of an Ottoman governor is a treasure of Damascene architecture.

Time

Damascus is in the Eastern European Time Zone (UTC +2), the EET is 2 hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time. The zone uses daylight savings time during summer – the Easter European Summer Time (EEST) – UTC +03:00.

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