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Things to see in Damascus

Tourist Offices

Tourist Information Office

Address: , Cham Palace Hotel, Damascus,
Telephone:
Opening times: Website: http://www.syriatourism.org

Attractions

The Christian Quarter and Straight Street

Straight Street, the Via Recta, has been the main east-west thoroughfare since Roman/Hellenistic times. Just off the street are the grand Damascene houses of the Christian Quarter, now often turned into bars and restaurants. At the end is the Roman gate of Bab Sharqi, and nearby the underground Chapel of St Ananias, where it is believed that Ananias sheltered St Paul after his blinding conversion. St Paul's Chapel marks the spot where St Paul was lowered over the city walls to escape his Roman persecutors.

Address: , Straight Street, Damascus,
Telephone:
Opening times: Website:
Admission Fees: Disabled Access: No
UNESCO: Yes

Souk al-Hamidiyeh

Located within the old city walls, Souk al-Hamidiyeh is Damascus's most famous souk (market). Built in stages during the Ottoman era - the eastern section in 1780 and the western section in 1883 - the souk has undergone numerous renovations, but it retains its old-world charm. You can find traditional Syrian silver and gold jewellery, and intricately carved wooden furniture. Be prepared to bargain.

Address: , Old City, Damascus,
Telephone:
Opening times: Website:
Admission Fees: Disabled Access: No
UNESCO: Yes

The Old City

Some 5km (3 miles) of walls surround the well-preserved medieval city of Damascus, with the Great Umayyad Mosque at its heart. It is a place for strolling through the labyrinthine alleys and busy souks, admiring the fine palaces, madrasas (Quranic schools), caravanserais and mosques on the way, or whiling time away in one of the many cafés.

Address: , Old City, Damascus,
Telephone:
Opening times: Website:
Admission Fees: Disabled Access: No
UNESCO: Yes

The National Museum

The museum has many treasures from Syria's amazing archaeological sites. Highlights include the sculpture and jewellery from Palmyra, the second-century interior of the Dura Europos synagogue, the world's first alphabet on the Ugarit tablets and the eerie priest statues of Mari.

Address: , Sharia Shoukri al-Quwatly, Damascus, ,
Telephone:
Opening times: Website:
Admission Fees: Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

The Great Umayyad Mosque

The splendid early eighth-century Umayyad Mosque was built on a site that has been sacred for thousands of years. It has been an Aramaic temple, a Roman temple and a Byzantine cathedral. The shrine, said to contain St John the Baptist's head, is still an important pilgrimage spot, as is the tomb of Salah ad-Din (Saladin) just outside the courtyard. More than 12,000 workmen helped to create the superb golden mosaics that once surrounded the entire courtyard, but only the Paradise Panel is left, representing paradise, or Damascus itself.

Address: , Bab al-Amara, Old City, Damascus,
Telephone:
Opening times: Website:
Admission Fees: Disabled Access: No
UNESCO: Yes

Tekkiye as-Sulaymaniyye

This exquisite mosque was commissioned by the Ottoman Sultan Sulayman the Magnificent and built by his master architect Sinan in a mixed Turkish and Syrian style. Next door is a tekke or monastery, now strangely filled with army planes from the Army Museum, and the Selimiye Madrasa, a centre for traditional crafts.

Address: , Sharia Shoukri al-Quwatly, Damascus,
Telephone:
Opening times: Website:
Admission Fees: Disabled Access: No
UNESCO: No

Maristan Nur ad-Din

The Maristan Nur ad-Din, a 12th-century lunatic asylum, was used until the 19th century. Patients were soothed by music and the splashing waters of fountains. Now an interesting museum of medicine, it shows just how advanced the Arabs were on that front.

Address: , Sharia al-Mu'awiya, Old City, Damascus,
Telephone:
Opening times: Website:
Admission Fees: Disabled Access: No
UNESCO: No

Azem Palace

One of the most beautiful palaces of the old city, the 18th-century palace of the Ottoman governor Assad Pasha al-Azem has several rooms illustrating traditional crafts and culture. 

Address: , , Damascus,
Telephone:
Opening times: Website:
Admission Fees: Disabled Access: No
UNESCO: No

Featured Hotels

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Four Seasons Hotel Damascus

The Four Seasons Hotel is the top hotel in town, and with 23 storeys it has become a landmark on the Damascus skyline. Set in a landscaped park, opposite the National Museum, it is only a short walk from the old city. The rooms are sumptuously decorated and have great views over Damascus and the Barada River.

Cham Palace

The Cham Palace, located right in the heart of the city, is one of the oldest luxury hotels in Damascus. The rooms command great views over the city and Mount Qassioun and the lobby is a popular meeting point for Syrian businessmen. The hotel has five good restaurants, including the Étoile d'Or, the city's only revolving restaurant, on the top floor.

Omayad Hotel Damascus

Centrally located, Omayad Hote Damascus is a popular four-star business hotel in Damascus. The hotel has a grand lobby and spacious soundproofed rooms with air conditioning, satellite TV and a free Wi-Fi internet connection.

Sultan Hotel

For many years now the best budget option in Damascus, the Sultan is popular with travellers for its excellent location near the old city, its friendly and helpful staff and the basic, but clean rooms with an unchanged motel-style1960s décor. It is advisable to book ahead.

Beit al-Mamlouka

Damascus's first boutique hotel is in a grand 17th-century city house, built around a central courtyard with fragrant citrus trees and a fountain. The eight luxurious bedrooms are each decorated in a particular style reflecting a period of history and using traditional Syrian furniture and crafts.

Beit Rumman

Beit Rumman is a recent addition to Damascus's burgeoning boutique hotel scene. Located in Bab Touma, Beit Rumman is a converted, 17th-century house complete with its own cellar and courtyard. It offers six bedrooms, each uniquely decorated.