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)), is an adjective which means "spacious". , motto = , image_flag = Flag of Damascus.svg , image_seal = Emblem of Damascus.svg , seal_type = Seal , map_caption = , pushpin_map = Syria#Mediterranean east#Arab world , pushpin_label_position = right , pushpin_mapsize = , pushpin_map_caption = Location of Damascus within Syria , pushpin_relief = 1 , coordinates = , subdivision_type = Country , subdivision_name = , subdivision_type1 =
Governorates A governorate is an administrative division of a country. It is headed by a governor. As English-speaking nations tend to call regions administered by governors either State (administrative division), states or provinces, the term ''governorate'' i ...
, subdivision_name1 =
Damascus Governorate Damascus Governorate ( ar, مُحافظة دمشق ') is one of the fourteen Governorates of Syria, governorates (provinces) of Syria. Completely surrounded by the Rif Dimashq Governorate, it consists only of the city of Damascus, the capital of S ...

Damascus Governorate
, Capital City , established_title = , established_date = , area_footnotes = , area_total_km2 = 105 , area_land_km2 = , area_water_km2 = , area_water_percent = , area_urban_km2 = 77 , area_urban_sq_mi = 29.73 , elevation_m = 680 , population_footnotes = , population_total = 2,079,000 , population_as_of = 2019 estimate , population_density_km2 = auto , population_density_sq_mi = auto , population_urban = 2.90 million , population_metro = , population_density_metro_km2 = , population_note = , population_demonyms = en, Damascene
ar, دمشقي, links=no, Dimaşki , blank3_name =
HDI The Human Development Index (HDI) is a statistic composite index of life expectancy Life expectancy is a statistical measure of the average time an organism is expected to live, based on the year of its birth, its current age, and ot ...
(2011) , blank3_info = 0.709 – high , timezone = EET , utc_offset = +2 , timezone_DST =
EEST Eastern European Summer Time (EEST) is one of the names of the UTC+03:00 time zone A time zone is an area that observes a uniform standard time for legal, Commerce, commercial and social purposes. Time zones tend to follow the boundaries ...
, utc_offset_DST = +3 , postal_code_type = , postal_code = , area_code = Country code: 963, City code: 11 , geocode = C1001 , blank_name =
Climate Climate is the long-term pattern of weather Weather is the state of the atmosphere, describing for example the degree to which it is hot or cold, wet or dry, calm or stormy, clear or cloud cover, cloudy. On Earth, most weather phenomena ...
, blank_info = BWk , website = , footnotes = Damascus ( , ; ar, دمشق, Dimašq, ,
Syrian Arabic Syrian Arabic is any of the Varieties of Arabic The varieties (or dialect The term dialect (from Latin , , from the Ancient Greek word , , "discourse", from , , "through" and , , "I speak") is used in two distinct ways to refer to two differe ...
:
; syc, ܕܰܪܡܣܘܩ, Darmswq) is the
capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller lowercase (or more formally ''minusc ...
of
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلسُّورِيَّةُ, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-S ...

Syria
, the oldest capital in the world and, according to some, the fourth holiest city in Islam. It is colloquially known in Syria as () and titled the "City of
Jasmine Jasmine ( taxonomic name ''Jasminum'' ) is a genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of extant taxon, living and fossil organisms as well as Virus classification# ...

Jasmine
" ( ). Damascus is a major cultural center of the
Levant The Levant () is an term referring to a large area in the region of . In its narrowest sense, it is equivalent to the , which included present-day , , , , and most of southwest of the middle . In its widest historical sense, the Levant ...

Levant
and the
Arab world The Arab world ( ar, العالم العربي '), formally the Arab homeland ( '), also known as the Arab nation ( '), the Arabsphere, or the Arab states, consists of the 22 Arab countries The Arab world ( ar, العالم العربي '), ...

Arab world
. The city had an estimated population of 2,079,000 in 2019. In southwestern Syria, Damascus is the center of a large metropolitan area. Its population in 2004 was estimated to be 2.7 million people. Embedded on the eastern foothills of the Anti-Lebanon mountain range inland from the eastern shore of the Mediterranean on a plateau
above sea level Above may refer to: * Above (artist), Tavar Zawacki (born 1981), contemporary urban artist * ''Above'' (magazine), an American environmental magazine 2009–2010 *Above (Mad Season album), ''Above'' (Mad Season album), 1995 *Above (Pillar album), ' ...
, Damascus experiences a dry climate because of the
rain shadow effect A rain shadow is an area of significantly reduced rainfall behind a mountainous region, on the side facing away from prevailing winds, known as its Windward and leeward#Meteorological significance, leeward side. Evaporation, Evaporated moistur ...

rain shadow effect
. The
Barada River
Barada River
flows through Damascus. Damascus is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. First settled in the second millennium BC, it was chosen as the capital of the
Umayyad Caliphate The Umayyad Caliphate (661–750 CE; , ; ar, ٱلْخِلَافَة ٱلْأُمَوِيَّة, al-Khilāfah al-ʾUmawīyah) was the second of the four major caliphate A caliphate ( ar, خِلَافَة, ) is an Islamic state under th ...
from 661 to 750. After the victory of the
Abbasid dynasty) , type = Banu Hashim of the Quraysh , image = File:Banu Abbas.png , image_size = 100 px , alt = , caption = Family tree depicting the ancestry of the Abbasid dynasty. , nisba = Abbasi , location = , descended ...
, the seat of Islamic power was moved to
Baghdad Baghdad (; ar, بَغْدَاد ) is the capital of and one of the in the , and compared to its large population it has a small area at just 673 square kilometers (260 sq mi). Located along the , near the ruins of the city of and the anc ...

Baghdad
. Damascus saw its importance decline throughout the Abbasid era, only to regain significant importance in the
Ayyubid The Ayyubid dynasty ( ar, الأيوبيون '; Kurdish: ئەیووبیەکان Eyûbiyan) was a Sunni Muslim Sunni Islam () is by far the largest branch of Islam Islam (;There are ten pronunciations of ''Islam'' in English, diffe ...

Ayyubid
and
Mamluk Mamluk ( ar, مملوك, mamlūk (singular), , ''mamālīk'' (plural), translated as "one who is owned", meaning "", also as ''Mameluke'', ''mamluq'', ''mamluke'', ''mameluk'', ''mameluke'', ''mamaluke'', or ''marmeluke'') is a term most commo ...

Mamluk
periods. Today, it is the seat of the central government of Syria. , eight years into the
Syrian Civil War#REDIRECT Syrian civil war The Syrian civil war ( ar, الْحَرْبُ الْأَهْلِيَّةُ السُّورِيَّةُ, ''al-ḥarb al-ʾahlīyah as-sūrīyah'') is an ongoing multi-sided civil war in Syria fought between the Syrian Ara ...

Syrian Civil War
, Damascus was named the least livable city out of 140 global cities in the
Global Liveability Ranking The Global Liveability Ranking is an annual assessment published by the Economist Intelligence Unit The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) is the research and analysis division of Economist Group providing forecasting and advisory services thro ...
.


Names and etymology

The name of Damascus first appeared in the geographical list of
Thutmose III Thutmose III (variously also spelt Tuthmosis or Thothmes) was the sixth pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt, Eighteenth Dynasty. Officially, Thutmose III ruled Egypt for almost 54 years and his reign is usually dated from 28 April 1479 ...

Thutmose III
as in the 15th century BC. The
etymology Etymology ()The New Oxford Dictionary of English ''The'' () is a grammatical article Article often refers to: * Article (grammar) An article is any member of a class of dedicated words that are used with noun phrases to mark the identif ...
of the ancient name is uncertain. It is attested as 𒀲𒋙 in
AkkadianAkkadian or Accadian may refer to: * The Akkadian language Akkadian ( ''akkadû'', ''ak-ka-du-u2''; logogram: ''URIKI'')John Huehnergard & Christopher Woods, "Akkadian and Eblaite", ''The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World's Ancient Languages' ...

Akkadian
, in
Egyptian Egyptian describes something of, from, or related to Egypt. Egyptian or Egyptians may refer to: Nations and ethnic groups * Egyptians, a national group in North Africa ** Egyptian culture, a complex and stable culture with thousands of years of r ...
, () in
Old Aramaic Old Aramaic refers to the earliest stage of the Aramaic language Aramaic ( Classical Syriac: ''Arāmāyā''; Old Aramaic: ; Aramaic alphabet, Imperial Aramaic: ; Hebrew alphabet, square script ) is a language that originated among the Aram ...
and ( he, דַּמֶּשֶׂק) in
Biblical Hebrew Biblical Hebrew ( ''Ivrit Miqra'it'' or ''Leshon ha-Miqra''), also called Classical Hebrew, is an archaic form of Hebrew language, Hebrew, a language in the Canaanite languages, Canaanite branch of Semitic languages, Semitic languages, spoken b ...
. A number of Akkadian spellings are found in the Amarna letters, from the 14th century BC: 𒁲𒈦𒋡 , 𒁲𒈦𒀸𒄀 , and 𒁲𒈦𒀸𒋡 . Later
Aramaic Aramaic (: ''Arāmāyā''; : ; : ; ) is a language that originated among the in the ancient , at the end of the , and later became one of the most prominent languages of the . During its three thousand years long history, Aramaic went thr ...
spellings of the name often include an intrusive ''
resh Resh is the twentieth letter Letter, letters, or literature may refer to: Characters typeface * Letter (alphabet) A letter is a segmental symbol A symbol is a mark, sign, or word that indicates, signifies, or is understood as represent ...

resh
'' (letter ''r''), perhaps influenced by the root , meaning "dwelling". Thus, the English and
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the dominant la ...

Latin
name of the city is "Damascus", which was imported from
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
and originated from "the
Qumran Qumran ( he, קומראן; ar, خربة قمران ') is an archaeological site in the managed by 's Qumran National Park. It is located on a dry about from the northwestern shore of the , near the and of . The settlement was construc ...
ic (), and () in
SyriacSyriac may refer to: *Syriac language, a dialect of Middle Aramaic * Syriac alphabet ** Syriac (Unicode block) ** Syriac Supplement * Neo-Aramaic languages also known as Syriac in most native vernaculars * Syriac Christianity, the churches using Syr ...

Syriac
", meaning "a well-watered land". In
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...

Arabic
, the city is called Dimashq ( ar, دمشق, Dimašq). The city is also known as by the citizens of Damascus, of Syria and other Arab neighbors and Turkey (). is an Arabic term for "
Levant The Levant () is an term referring to a large area in the region of . In its narrowest sense, it is equivalent to the , which included present-day , , , , and most of southwest of the middle . In its widest historical sense, the Levant ...

Levant
" and for "Syria"; the latter, and particularly the historical
region of Syria The region of Syria ( ar, ٱلشَّام, '; Hieroglyphic Luwian: ''Sura/i''; gr, Συρία), known in modern literature as Greater Syria (, '), "Syria-Palestine", or the Levant The Levant () is an approximate historical geographical ...
, is called ( / "land of the Levant").), was a Semitic sky-god in
Canaan A 1692 map of Canaan, by Philip Lea Canaan (; Northwest Semitic Northwest Semitic, known as Syro-Palestinian in dialect geography, is a division of the Semitic languages comprising the indigenous languages of the Levant. It would have ...

Canaan
/
Phoenicia Phoenicia () was an ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past eventsWordNet Search – 3.0 ...
and ancient
Palmyra Palmyra (; Palmyrene dialect, Palmyrene: 𐡶𐡣𐡬𐡥𐡴 () ''Tadmor''; ar, تَدْمُر ''Tadmur'') is an ancient Semitic people, Semitic city in present-day Homs Governorate, Syria. Archaeological finds date back to the Neolithic pe ...

Palmyra
. Hence, Sham refers to (''heaven'' or ''sky''). The latter term etymologically means "land of the left-hand side" or "the north", as someone in the
Hijaz The Hejaz (, also ; ar, ٱلْحِجَاز, al-Ḥijāz, lit=the Barrier, ) is a region in the west of Saudi Arabia (''Shahada The ''Shahada'' ( ar, ٱلشَّهَادَةُ ' , "the testimony"), also spelled Shahadah, is an Islami ...

Hijaz
facing east, oriented to the sunrise, will find the north to the left. This is contrasted with the name of
Yemen ) , image_map = File:Yemen on the globe (Yemen centered).svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = , capital = Sana'a (''Houthi takeover in Yemen, De jure'')Aden (Temporary capital Yemeni government, in exile) , coordinates = , capital_exile = ...

Yemen
( ), correspondingly meaning "the right-hand side" or "the south". The variation ('), of the more typical (), is also attested in
Old South Arabian Old South Arabianhttp://e-learning.tsu.ge/pluginfile.php/5868/mod_resource/content/0/dzveli_armosavluri_enebi_-ugarituli_punikuri_arameuli_ebrauli_arabuli.pdf (or Ṣayhadic or Yemenite) is a group of four closely related extinct language Ex ...
, (), with the same semantic development.


Geography

Damascus was built in a strategic site on a plateau
above sea level Above may refer to: * Above (artist), Tavar Zawacki (born 1981), contemporary urban artist * ''Above'' (magazine), an American environmental magazine 2009–2010 *Above (Mad Season album), ''Above'' (Mad Season album), 1995 *Above (Pillar album), ' ...
and about inland from the Mediterranean, sheltered by the Anti-Lebanon mountains, supplied with water by the Barada River, and at a crossroads between trade routes: the north–south route connecting Egypt with Asia Minor, and the east–west cross-desert route connecting Lebanon with the Euphrates river valley. The Anti-Lebanon mountains mark the border between Syria and Lebanon. The range has peaks of over 10,000 ft. and blocks precipitation from the Mediterranean sea, so that the region of Damascus is sometimes subject to droughts. However, in ancient times this was mitigated by the Barada River, which originates from mountain streams fed by melting snow. Damascus is surrounded by the
Ghouta A satellite view of Damascus in 2006 Ghouta ( ar, غُوطَةُ دِمَشْقَ / ALA-LC: ''Ḡūṭat Dimašq'') is a countryside and suburban area in southwestern Syria that surrounds the city of Damascus along its eastern and southern rim. ...
, irrigated farmland where many vegetables, cereals and fruits have been farmed since ancient times. Maps of Roman Syria indicate that the Barada river emptied into a lake of some size east of Damascus. Today it is called Bahira Atayba, the hesitant lake, because in years of severe drought it does not even exist. The modern city has an area of , out of which 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 , name_etymology = From ''barid'', meaning 'cold' in Semitic languages The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family Afroasiatic (Afro-Asiatic), also known as Afrasian or Hamito-Semitic or Semito-Hamitic, is a lar ...

Barada
which is almost dry ( left). To the south-east, north and north-east it is surrounded by suburban areas whose history stretches back to the Middle Ages:
Midan Al-Midan ( ar, حي الميدان) is a neighbourhood and Municipalities of Damascus, municipality in Damascus, Syria, just south of the old walled city and very near the modern city centre. In the 2004 census, it had a population of 177,456 ...

Midan
in the south-west, Sarouja and Imara in the north and north-west. These neighborhoods 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 neighborhood centered on the important shrine of medieval Andalusian Sheikh and philosopher
Ibn Arabi Ibn ʿArabi ( ar, ابن عربي) (1165 – 1240), full name ''Muhyī al-Dīn Abū ʿAbd Allāh Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī ibn Muḥammad ibn al-ʿArabī al-Ḥātimī al-Ṭāʾī al-Andalusī al-Mursī al-Dimashqī'' ( ar, links=no, محي الد ...

Ibn Arabi
. These new neighborhoods 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 north of the old city. From the late 19th century on, a modern administrative and commercial center began to spring up to the west of the old city, around the Barada, centered on the area known as al-Marjeh or "the meadow". Al-Marjeh soon became the name of what was initially the central square of modern Damascus, with the city hall in it. The courts of justice, post office and railway station stood on higher ground slightly to the south. A Europeanized residential quarter soon began to be built on the road leading between al-Marjeh and
al-Salihiyah Al-Salihiyah ( ar, ٱلصَّالِحِيَّة, aṣ-Ṣāliḥīyah) is a Municipalities of Damascus, municipality and a neighborhood of Damascus, Syria. It lies to the northwest of the old walled city of Damascus and about southeast the Citadel ...
. The commercial and administrative center 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 A satellite view of Damascus in 2006 Ghouta ( ar, غُوطَةُ دِمَشْقَ / ALA-LC: ''Ḡūṭat Dimašq'') is a countryside and suburban area in southwestern Syria that surrounds the city of Damascus along its eastern and southern rim. ...
oasis. In 1956–1957, the new neighborhood of Yarmouk 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 ( ar, ٱلْمَزَّة, al-Mazzah, also transcribed as al-Mazzah, el-Mezze, etc.) is a in , , due west of . It lies to the southwest of central Damascus, along the Mezzeh highway (also known as Fayez Mansour). It started gaining impor ...
neighborhood and most recently along the Barada valley in
Dummar , settlement_type = Municipal district , image_skyline = Dummar in 2019.jpg , image_alt = , image_caption = Residential homes in Dummar , image_flag = , flag_alt = , nickn ...
in the north west and on the slopes of the mountains at Barzeh 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 In geography, an oasis (, plural oases, ) is a fertile land in a desert or semi-desert environment.
, the Ghouta region ( ar, الغوطة, ''al-ġūṭä''), watered by the Barada river. The Fijeh spring, west along the Barada valley, used to provide the city with drinking water and various sources to the west are tapped by water contractors. The flow of the Barada has reduced with the rapid expansion of housing and industry in the city and it is almost dry. The lower aquifers are polluted by city's runoff from heavily used roads, industry and sewage.


Climate

Damascus has a cool arid climate (''BWk'') in the Köppen-Geiger system, due to the
rain shadow effect A rain shadow is an area of significantly reduced rainfall behind a mountainous region, on the side facing away from prevailing winds, known as its Windward and leeward#Meteorological significance, leeward side. Evaporation, Evaporated moistur ...

rain shadow effect
of the Anti-Lebanon mountains and the prevailing ocean currents. Summers are prolonged, dry and hot with less humidity. Winters are cool and somewhat rainy; snowfall is infrequent. Autumn is brief and mild, but has the most drastic temperature change, unlike spring where the transition to summer is more gradual and steady. Annual rainfall is around , occurring from October to May.


History


Early settlement

Carbon-14 Carbon-14 (14C), or radiocarbon, is a radioactive isotope A radionuclide (radioactive nuclide, radioisotope or radioactive isotope) is a nuclide that has excess nuclear energy, making it unstable. This excess energy can be used in one of three ...

Carbon-14
dating at
Tell Ramad Tell Ramad ( ar, تل رماد) is a prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is the description of humanity's past. It is informed by archaeol ...
, 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. Some of the earliest
Egyptian Egyptian describes something of, from, or related to Egypt. Egyptian or Egyptians may refer to: Nations and ethnic groups * Egyptians, a national group in North Africa ** Egyptian culture, a complex and stable culture with thousands of years of r ...

Egyptian
records are from the 1350 BC Amarna letters, when Damascus (called ''Dimasqu'') was ruled by king
Biryawaza Biryawaza was a powerful ruler in the area of Egyptian controlled Syria in the middle fourteenth century BC. He is often mentioned in the Amarna letters, although his title is never given clearly. Some scholars describe him as the king of Damascus, ...
. The Damascus region, as well as the rest of Syria, became a battleground circa 1260 BC, between the
Hittites The Hittites () were an Anatolian people who played an important role in establishing first a kingdom in Kussara before 1750 BC, then the Kanesh or Nesha kingdom (c. 1750–1650 BC), and next an empire centered on Hattusa Hattusa (also ...

Hittites
from the north and the
Egyptians Egyptians ( arz, المصريين, ; cop, ⲣⲉⲙⲛ̀ⲭⲏⲙⲓ, remenkhēmi) are an ethnic group of people originating from the country of Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a spanning t ...
from the south, ending with a signed treaty between Hattusili and
Ramesses II Ramesses II ( egy, rꜥ-ms-sw meaning "Ra is the one who bore him", ''Rīʿa-məsī-sū'', ; ) was the third pharaoh Pharaoh ( , ; cop, , Pǝrro) is the common title now used for the monarch A monarch is a head of state ...
where the former handed over control of the Damascus area to Ramesses II in 1259 BC. The arrival of the
Sea Peoples The Sea Peoples are a purported seafaring confederation A confederation (also known as a confederacy or league) is a union of sovereign groups or states united for purposes of common action. Usually created by a treaty A treaty is a f ...
, around 1200 BC, marked the end of the
Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric Periodization, period that was characterized by the use of bronze, in some areas proto-writing, and other early features of urban civilization. The Bronze Age is the second principal period of the Three-age sys ...
in the region and brought about new development of warfare. Damascus was only a peripheral part of this picture, which mostly affected the larger population centers of ancient Syria. However, these events contributed to the development of Damascus as a new influential center that emerged with the transition from the Bronze Age to the
Iron Age The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age division of the prehistory Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, or world history, is the narrative of Human, humanity's pa ...
. Damascus is mentioned in
Genesis Genesis may refer to: Literature and comics * Genesis (DC Comics), a 1997 DC Comics crossover * Genesis (Marvel Comics), a Marvel Comics villain * Genesis, a fictional character from the ''Preacher (comics), Preacher'' comic-book series * ''Genes ...

Genesis
14:15 as existing at the time of the War of the Kings. According to the 1st-century Jewish historian
Flavius Josephus Titus Flavius Josephus (; ; 37 – 100), born Yosef ben Matityahu ( he, יוסף בן מתתיהו ''Yōsef ben Matiṯyāhu''; grc-gre, Ἰώσηπος Ματθίου παῖς ''Iṓsēpos Matthíou paîs''), was a first-century Romano-Jewish ...
in his twenty-one volume ''
Antiquities of the Jews ''Antiquities of the Jews'' ( la, Antiquitates Iudaicae; el, Ἰουδαϊκὴ ἀρχαιολογία, ''Ioudaikē archaiologia'') is a 20-volume historiographical work, written in Greek, by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus in the 13th ye ...
'', Damascus (along with
Trachonitis The Lajat (/ALA-LC: ''al-Lajāʾ''), also spelled ''Lejat'', ''Lajah'', ''el-Leja'' or ''Laja'', is the largest lava field in southern Syria, spanning some 900 square kilometers. Located about southeast of Damascus, the Lajat borders the Hauran ...

Trachonitis
), was founded by Uz, the son of Aram. In Antiquities i. 7, Josephus reports:
Nicolaus of Damascus Nicolaus of Damascus ( Greek: , ''Nikolāos Damaskēnos''; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known ...
, in the fourth book of his History, says thus: "
Abraham Abraham, ''Ibrāhīm''; el, Ἀβραάμ, translit=Abraám, name=, group= (originally Abram) is the common patriarch of the Abrahamic religions, including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In Judaism, he is the founding father of the covenan ...

Abraham
reigned at Damascus, being a foreigner, who came with an army out of the land above
Babylon ''Bābili(m)'' * sux, 𒆍𒀭𒊏𒆠 * arc, 𐡁𐡁𐡋 ''Babil'' * grc-gre, Βαβυλών ''Babylṓn'' * he, בָּבֶל ''Bavel'' * peo, 𐎲𐎠𐎲𐎡𐎽𐎢 ''Bābiru'' * elx, 𒀸𒁀𒉿𒇷 ''Babili'' *Kassite The Kassites ...

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 A 1692 map of Canaan, by Philip Lea Canaan (; Northwest Semitic Northwest Semitic, known as Syro-Palestinian in dialect geography, is a division of the Semitic languages comprising the indigenous languages of the Levant. It would have ...

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 first documented as an important city during the arrival of the
Aramaeans The Arameans (: 𐤀𐤓𐤌𐤉𐤀; : Ἀραμαῖοι; : ܐܪ̈ܡܝܐ / Ārāmāyē) were an ancient people in the , first recorded in historical sources from the late 12th century . Aramean homeland was known as the land of , encompassing ...
, a
Semitic people Semitic most commonly refers to the Semitic languages The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family Afroasiatic (Afro-Asiatic), also known as Afrasian or Hamito-Semitic or Semito-Hamitic, is a large language family ...
, in the 11th century BC. By the start of the first 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 Aram-Damascus ( or ) was an Aramean The Arameans (Old Aramaic language, Old Aramaic: 𐤀𐤓𐤌𐤉𐤀; Greek language, Greek: Ἀραμαῖοι; Syriac language, Syriac: ܐܪ̈ܡܝܐ / Ārāmāyē) were an ancient Semitic languages, Semiti ...
, 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. The city would gain pre-eminence 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 ( he, בן הדד ; arc, בר הדד, ), son of Tabrimmon and grandson of Hezion, was king of Aram-Damascus between 885 BC and 865 BC. A figure known only from the Old Testament, Ben-Hadad I was reportedly a contemporary of kings Baash ...
(880–841 BC), and his successor
Hazael Hazael (; ; : חזאל, from the ''h-z-y'', "to see"; his full name meaning, "/God has seen"; akk, 𒄩𒍝𒀪𒀭, Ḫa-za-’-) was an who is mentioned in the . Under his reign, became an empire that ruled over large parts of and the Lan ...
, Damascus annexed
Bashan Bashan (; he, הַבָּשָׁן, ''ha-Bashan''; la, Basan or ''Basanitis'') is a term for the northernmost region of the Transjordan in the Bible, Transjordan, which is located in what is today known as Syria. Within it are present day Golan ...
(modern-day
Hauran The Hauran ( ar, حَوْرَان, ''Ḥawrān'') also spelled ''Hawran'' or ''Houran'') is a region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of th ...
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 Samaria, , also known as , 'Nablus Mountains' () is a historical and biblical name used for the central region of the Land of Israel, bordered by Galilee to the north and Judaea to the south. For the beginning of the Common Era, Josephus set t ...
. 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 The Neo-Assyrian Empire (Assyrian cuneiform Assyrian may refer to: * Assyria, a major Mesopotamian kingdom and empire * Assyrian people, an ethnic group indigenous to the Middle East * Assyrian Church (disambiguation) * Assyrian language (disam ...

Neo-Assyrian Empire
which was attempting to expand into the Mediterranean coast. In 853 BC, King
Hadadezer Hadadezer (; " he godHadad is help"); also known as Adad-Idri ( akk, 𒀭𒅎𒀉𒊑, Dingir, dIM-id-ri), and possibly the same as Bar-Hadad II (Aramaic language, Aram.) or Ben-Hadad II (Hebrew language, Heb.), was the king of Aram Damascus ...
of Damascus led a
Levant The Levant () is an term referring to a large area in the region of . In its narrowest sense, it is equivalent to the , which included present-day , , , , and most of southwest of the middle . In its widest historical sense, the Levant ...

Levant
ine coalition, that included forces from the northern Aram-Hamath kingdom and troops supplied by
King Ahab Ahab (; akk, , Aḫabbu; grc-koi, ''Achaáb''; la, Achab) was the seventh king of the King of the Romans (variant used in the early modern period) File:Nezahualpiltzintli.jpg">Aztec King Nezahualpiltzintli of Texcoco King is the ...
of Israel, in the
Battle of Qarqar The Battle of Qarqar (or Ḳarḳar) was fought in 853 BCE when the army of the Neo-Assyrian Empire led by Emperor Shalmaneser III encountered an allied army of eleven kings at Qarqar led by Hadadezer, called in Assyrian ''Adad-idir'' and possibly ...
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, 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 led by
Tiglath-Pileser III Tiglath-Pileser III (Neo-Assyrian cuneiform Cuneiform is a logo up Chiswick_Press.html"_;"title="Coat_of_arms_of_the_Chiswick_Press">Coat_of_arms_of_the_Chiswick_Press_ A_logo_(abbreviation_of_logotype,_from__el.html" ;"title="Chiswick_ ...
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 The Arabian Peninsula (; ar, شِبْهُ الْجَزِيرَةِ الْعَرَبِيَّة, , "Arabian Peninsula" or , , "Island of the Arabs") is a peninsula of Western Asia, situated northeast of Africa on the Arabian Plate. At , the ...

Arabia
. In 694 BC, the town was called ''Šaʾimerišu'' (Akkadian: 𒐼𒄿𒈨𒊑𒋙𒌋) and its governor was named ''Ilu-issīya''. However, Assyrian authority was dwindling by 609–605 BC, and Syria-Palestine was falling into the orbit of Pharaoh
Necho II Necho II (sometimes Nekau, Neku, Nechoh, or Nikuu; Greek: Νεκώς Β'; ) of Ancient Egypt, Egypt was a king of the 26th Dynasty (610–595 BC), which ruled out of Sais, Egypt, Sais. Necho undertook a number of construction projects across his ki ...
's Egypt. In 572 BC, all of Syria had been conquered by
Nebuchadnezzar II Nebuchadnezzar II (Babylonian cuneiform: ''Nabû-kudurri-uṣur'', meaning "Nabu, watch over my heir"; Biblical Hebrew: ''Nəḇūḵaḏneʾṣṣar''), also spelled Nebuchadrezzar II, was the second king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, ruling f ...
of the
Neo-Babylonian The Neo-Babylonian Empire, also known as the Second Babylonian Empire and historically known as the Chaldean Empire, was the last of the Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن '; grc, Μεσοποταμία; S ...
s, but the status of Damascus under
Babylon ''Bābili(m)'' * sux, 𒆍𒀭𒊏𒆠 * arc, 𐡁𐡁𐡋 ''Babil'' * grc-gre, Βαβυλών ''Babylṓn'' * he, בָּבֶל ''Bavel'' * peo, 𐎲𐎠𐎲𐎡𐎽𐎢 ''Bābiru'' * elx, 𒀸𒁀𒉿𒇷 ''Babili'' *Kassite The Kassites ...

Babylon
is relatively unknown.


Greco-Roman period

Damascus was conquered by
Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc-gre, Αλέξανδρος}, ; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king (''basileus ''Basileus'' ( el, βασιλεύς) is a Greek term and title A title ...

Alexander the Great
. After the death of Alexander in 323 BC, Damascus became the site of a struggle between the
Seleucid The Seleucid Empire (; grc, Βασιλεία τῶν Σελευκιδῶν, ''Basileía tōn Seleukidōn'') was a Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hell ...
and Ptolemaic empires. The control of the city passed frequently from one empire to the other.
Seleucus I Nicator Seleucus I Nicator (; ; grc-gre, Σέλευκος Νικάτωρ, Séleukos Nikátōr, Seleucus the Victorious) was a Ancient Macedonians, Macedonian Greek general, a Diadochi of Alexander the Great and ultimately king who fought for control over ...
, one of Alexander's generals, made
Antioch Antioch on the Orontes (; grc, Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐπὶ Ὀρόντου, ''Antiókheia hē epì Oróntou''; also Syrian Antioch) grc-koi, Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐπὶ Ὀρόντου; or Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐπὶ Δάφνῃ ...
the capital of his vast empire, which led to the decline of Damascus' importance compared with new Seleucid cities such as
Latakia Latakia ( ar, ٱللَّاذْقِيَّة \ ٱللَّاذِقِيَّة, '; Syrian Arabic, Syrian pronunciation: ) is the principal port city of Syria, as well as the capital of the Latakia Governorate. Historically, it has also been known as L ...
in the north. Later, Demetrius III Philopator rebuilt the city according to the Greek hippodamian system and renamed it "Demetrias". In 64 BC, the Ancient Rome, Roman general Pompey annexed the western part of Syria. The Romans occupied Damascus and subsequently incorporated it into the league of ten cities known as the Decapolis which themselves were incorporated into the province of Syria and granted autonomy. The city of Damascus was entirely redesigned by the Romans after Pompey conquered the region. Still today the Old Town of Damascus retains the rectangular shape of the Roman city, with its two main axes: the Decumanus Maximus (east-west; known today as the ''Via Recta'') and the Cardo (north-south), the Decumanus being about twice as long. The Romans built a monumental gate which still survives at the eastern end of Decumanus Maximus. The gate originally had three arches: the central arch was for chariots while the side arches were for pedestrians.romeartlover
"Damascus: the ancient town"
In 23 BC, Herod the Great was given lands controlled by Zenodorus son of Lysanias, Zenodorus by Augustus, Caesar Augustus and some scholars believe that Herod was also granted control of Damascus as well. The control of Damascus reverted to Syria either upon the death of Herod the Great or was part of the lands given to Herod Philip which were given to Syria with his death in 33/34 AD. It is speculated that control of Damascus was gained by Aretas IV Philopatris of Nabataean kingdom, Nabatea between the death of Herod Philip II., Herod Philip in 33/34 AD and the death of Aretas in 40 AD but there is substantial evidence against Aretas controlling the city before 37 AD and many reasons why it could not have been a gift from Caligula between 37 and 40 AD. In fact, all these theories stem not from any actual evidence outside the New Testament but rather "a certain understanding of 2 Corinthians 11:32" and in reality "neither from archaeological evidence, secular-historical sources, nor New Testament texts can Nabatean sovereignty over Damascus in the first century AD be proven." Roman emperor Trajan who annexed the Nabataean Kingdom, creating the province of Arabia Petraea, had previously been in Damascus, as his father Marcus Ulpius Traianus (father of Trajan), Marcus Ulpius Traianus served as governor of Syria from 73 to 74 AD, where he met the Nabatean architect and engineer, Apollodorus of Damascus, who joined him in Rome when he was a consul in 91 AD, and later built several monuments during the 2nd century AD. 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. During the ''Pax Romana'', 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 Arabian Peninsula, Arabia,
Palmyra Palmyra (; Palmyrene dialect, Palmyrene: 𐡶𐡣𐡬𐡥𐡴 () ''Tadmor''; ar, تَدْمُر ''Tadmur'') is an ancient Semitic people, Semitic city in present-day Homs Governorate, Syria. Archaeological finds date back to the Neolithic pe ...

Palmyra
, Petra, and the silk routes from China all converging on it. The city satisfied the Roman demands for eastern luxuries. Circa 125 AD the Roman emperor Hadrian promoted the city of Damascus to "Metropolis of Coele-Syria". 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 , 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 below the modern city. The old borough of Bab Tuma was developed at the end of the Roman/Byzantine era by the local Eastern Orthodox Church, Eastern Orthodox community. According to the Acts of the Apostles, Saint Paul and Thomas the Apostle, Saint Thomas both lived in that neighborhood. Roman Catholic historians also consider Bab Tuma to be the birthplace of several Popes such as Pope John V, John V and Pope Gregory III, Gregory III. Accordingly, there was a community of Jewish Christians who converted to Christianity with the advent of Saint Paul's proselytisation. During the Byzantine–Sasanian War of 602–628, the city was besieged and captured by Shahrbaraz in 613, along with a large number of Byzantine troops as prisoners, and was in Sasanian hands until near the end of the war.


Early Islamic Arab period

Muhammad's first indirect interaction with the people of Damascus was when he sent a letter to Expedition of Zaid ibn Haritha (Hisma), Shiya bin Wahab to Haris bin Ghasanni, the king of Damascus. In his letter, Muhammad stated: "Peace be upon him who follows true guidance. Be informed that my religion shall prevail everywhere. You should accept Islam, and whatever under your command shall remain yours."Akbar Shāh Ḵẖān Najībābādī
History of Islam, Volume 1
, p. 194. Quote: "Again, the Holy Prophet "P sent Dihyah bin Khalifa Kalbi to the Byzantine king Heraclius, Hatib bin Abi Baltaeh to the king of Egypt and Alexandria; Allabn Al-Hazermi to Munzer bin Sawa the king of Bahrain; Amer bin Aas to the king of Oman. Salit bin Amri to Hozah bin Ali— the king of Yamama; Shiya bin Wahab to Haris bin Ghasanni to the king of Damascus"
After most of the Syrian countryside was conquered by the Rashidun Caliphate during the reign of Caliph Umar, Damascus itself was Siege of Damascus (634), conquered by the Muslim-Arab general Khalid ibn al-Walid in August - September 634 AD. His Rashidun army, army 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, 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 sides met along the Yarmouk River where they fought a Battle of Yarmouk, major battle which ended in a decisive Muslim victory, solidifying Muslim rule in Syria and Palestine. While the Muslims administered the city, the population of Damascus remained mostly Christian—Eastern Orthodox and Monophysite—with a growing community of Muslims from Mecca, Medina, and the Syrian Desert. The governor assigned to the city which had been chosen as the capital of Bilad al-Sham, Islamic Syria was Mu'awiya I. After the death of Caliph Ali in 661, Mu'awiya was chosen as the caliph of the expanding Islamic empire. Because of the vast amounts of assets his clan, the Umayyads, owned in the city and because of its traditional economic and social links with the
Hijaz The Hejaz (, also ; ar, ٱلْحِجَاز, al-Ḥijāz, lit=the Barrier, ) is a region in the west of Saudi Arabia (''Shahada The ''Shahada'' ( ar, ٱلشَّهَادَةُ ' , "the testimony"), also spelled Shahadah, is an Islami ...

Hijaz
as well as the Christian Arab tribes of the region, Mu'awiya established Damascus as the capital of the entire Caliphate. With the ascension of Caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan, 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 (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...

Arabic
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 ibn Marwan, 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. 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, 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 as his residence and later Hisham chose Resafa. 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 in 744, the capital of the empire was relocated to Harran in the northern Al Jazira, Mesopotamia, Jazira region. On 25 August 750, the Abbasids, having already beaten the Umayyads in the Battle of the Zab in Iraq, conquered Damascus after facing little resistance. With the heralding of the Abbasid Caliphate, Damascus became eclipsed and subordinated by
Baghdad Baghdad (; ar, بَغْدَاد ) is the capital of and one of the in the , and compared to its large population it has a small area at just 673 square kilometers (260 sq mi). Located along the , near the ruins of the city of and the anc ...

Baghdad
, 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 ostracised, and army generals from the city were dismissed. Afterwards, 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, 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 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 and the
Baghdad Baghdad (; ar, بَغْدَاد ) is the capital of and one of the in the , and compared to its large population it has a small area at just 673 square kilometers (260 sq mi). Located along the , near the ruins of the city of and the anc ...

Baghdad
-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 Fatimids 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, Alptakin drove out the Fatimids five years later, and through diplomacy, prevented the Byzantines during the Syrian campaigns of John Tzimiskes 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, 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 bi-Amr Allah, al-Hakim (996–1021). In 998, hundreds of Damascus' citizens 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-Dizbari, 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 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 periods

With the arrival of the Seljuq Turks in the late 11th century, Damascus again became the capital of independent states. It was ruled by Tutush I, Abu Sa'id Taj ad-Dawla Tutush I starting in 1079 and he was succeeded by his son Duqaq (Seljuk ruler of Damascus), Abu Nasr Duqaq 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''), Toghtekin, took control of Damascus and the Burid Dynasty, Burid line 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. While the rulers of Damascus were preoccupied in conflict with their fellow Seljuqs in Aleppo and Diyarbakir, the Crusaders, who arrived in the
Levant The Levant () is an term referring to a large area in the region of . In its narrowest sense, it is equivalent to the , which included present-day , , , , and most of southwest of the middle . In its widest historical sense, the Levant ...

Levant
in 1097, conquered Jerusalem, Mount Lebanon and Palestine. 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, the Beqaa Valley, Hauran, and the Golan Heights as part of its territories. With military support from Sharaf al-Din Mawdud of Mosul, 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. In 1126, the Crusader army led by Baldwin II of Jerusalem, Baldwin II fought Burid forces led by Toghtekin at Battle of Marj al-Saffar (1126), Marj al-Saffar near Damascus; however, despite their tactical victory, the Crusaders failed in their objective to capture Damascus. Following Toghtekin's death in 1128, his son, Taj al-Muluk Buri, became the nominal ruler of Damascus. Coincidentally, the Seljuq prince of Mosul, Imad ad-Din Zengi, Imad al-Din Zengi, took power in Aleppo and gained a mandate from the Abbasids to extend his authority to Damascus. In 1129, around 6,000 Isma'ili, 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 Banias, to aid the Crusaders in capturing Damascus in return for control of Tyre, Lebanon, Tyre. Soon after the massacre, the Crusaders aimed to take advantage of the unstable situation and launch an Crusade of 1129, assault against Damascus with nearly 2,000 knights and 10,000 infantry. 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, Zumurrud Khatun, 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'' ("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 to resist Zengi's forces. Consequently, Zengi withdrew his army and focused on campaigns against northern Syria. In 1144, Zengi Siege of Edessa (1144), conquered Edessa, a crusader stronghold, which led to Second Crusade, a new crusade from Europe in 1148. In the meantime Zengi was assassinated and his territory was divided among his sons, one of whom, Nur ad-Din Zangi, 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. Siege of Damascus (1148), Their siege, 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 of Jerusalem Crusader invasions of Egypt, invaded Fatimid Egypt, which requested help from Nur ad-Din. The Nur ad-Din sent his general Shirkuh, and in 1166 Amalric was defeated at the Battle of al-Babein. When Shirkuh died in 1169, he was succeeded by his nephew Yusuf, better known as Saladin, who defeated a joint crusader-Byzantine siege of Damietta. 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, despite his numerical superiority. Saladin also siege of Kerak, besieged Kerak 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 in July. Acre, Israel, Acre fell to Saladin soon after, and Jerusalem itself siege of Jerusalem (1187), was captured in October. These events shocked Europe, resulting in the Third Crusade in 1189, led by Richard I of England, Philip II of France and Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor, though the last drowned en route. The surviving crusaders, joined by new arrivals from Europe, put Acre to a Siege of Acre (1189–1191), lengthy siege which lasted until 1191. After re-capturing Acre, Richard defeated Saladin at the Battle of Arsuf in 1191 and the Battle of Jaffa (1192), Battle of Jaffa 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 Jaffa in 1192. Saladin allowed pilgrimages to be made to Jerusalem, allowing the crusaders to fulfil their vows, after which they all returned home. Local 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 dynasty, Ayyubid sultans 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. During the internecine wars fought by the Ayyubid rulers, Damascus was besieged repeatedly. The patterned Byzantine and Chinese silks available through Damascus, one of the Western termini of the Silk Road, gave the English language "damask".


Mamluk period

Ayyubid rule (and independence) came to an end with the Mongol invasion of Syria in 1260, in which the Mongols led by Kitbuqa entered the city on 1 March 1260, along with the King of Armenia, Hethum I, King of Armenia, Hethum I, and the Prince of Antioch, Bohemond VI of Antioch, Bohemond VI; hence, the citizens of Damascus saw for the first time for six centuries three Christian potentates ride in triumph through their streets. However, following the Mongol defeat at Battle of Ain Jalut, Ain Jalut on 3 September 1260, Damascus was captured five days later and became the provincial capital of the Mamluk Sultanate (Cairo), Mamluk Sultanate, ruled from Egypt, following the Mongol withdrawal. Following their victory at the Battle of Wadi al-Khaznadar, the Mongols led by Ghazan besieged the city for ten days, which surrendered between December 30, 1299, and January 6, 1300, though its Citadel resisted. Ghazan then retreated with most of his forces in February, probably because the Mongol horses needed fodder, and left behind about 10,000 horsemen under the Mongol general Mulay. Around March 1300, Mulay returned with his horsemen to Damascus, then followed Ghazan back across the Euphrates. In May 1300, the Egyptian Mamluks returned from Egypt and reclaimed the entire area without a battle. In April 1303, the Mamluks managed to defeat the Mongol army led by Kutlushah and Mulay along with their Armenian allies at the Battle of Marj al-Saffar (1303), Battle of Marj al-Saffar, to put an end to Mongol invasions of the Levant. Later on, the Black Death of 1348–1349 killed as much as half of the city's population. In 1400, Timur, the Turco-Mongol conqueror, Siege of Damascus (1400), besieged Damascus. The Mamluk sultan dispatched a deputation from Cairo, including Ibn Khaldun, who negotiated with him, but after their withdrawal Timur sacked the city on 17 March 1401. The Umayyad Mosque 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. 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'' (between modern-day Al-Qassaa and Bab Tuma), originally "the tower of heads". Rebuilt, Damascus continued to serve as a Mamluk provincial capital until 1516.


Ottoman period

In early 1516, the Ottoman Empire, Ottoman Turks, 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 in the Umayyad mosque was pronounced in the name of Selim I. 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, Khanqah, tekkiye and mausoleum at the shrine of Shaikh Ibn Arabi, Muhi al-Din ibn Arabi in
al-Salihiyah Al-Salihiyah ( ar, ٱلصَّالِحِيَّة, aṣ-Ṣāliḥīyah) is a Municipalities of Damascus, municipality and a neighborhood of Damascus, Syria. It lies to the northwest of the old walled city of Damascus and about southeast the Citadel ...
. This was to be the first of Damascus' great Ottoman monuments. During this time, according to an Ottoman census, Damascus had 10,423 households. The Ottomans remained for the next 400 years, except for a brief occupation by Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt from 1832 to 1840. Because of its importance as the point of departure for one of the two great Hajj caravans to Mecca, Damascus was treated with more attention by the Ottoman Porte, Porte than its size might have warranted—for most of this period, Aleppo was more populous and commercially more important. In 1560 the Tekkiye Mosque, Tekkiye al-Sulaimaniyah, a mosque and caravanserai, khan for pilgrims on the road to Mecca, was completed to a design by the famous Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan, and soon afterwards a Al-Salimiyah Madrasa, madrasa was built adjoining it. Early in the nineteenth century, Damascus was noted for its shady cafes along the banks of the Barada. A depiction of these by William Henry Bartlett was published in 1836, along with a poetical illustration by Letitia Elizabeth Landon, see . Under Ottoman rule, Christians and Jews were considered dhimmis and were allowed to practice their religious precepts. During the Damascus affair of 1840 the false accusation of ritual murder was brought against members of the Jewish community of Damascus. The 1860 Druze-Christian conflict in Lebanon, massacre of Christians in 1860 was also one of the most notorious incidents of these centuries, when fighting between Druze and Maronites in Mount Lebanon spilled over into the city. Several thousand Christians were killed in June 1860, with many more being saved through the intervention of the Algerian exile Abd al-Qadir al-Jaza'iri, 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 of Damascus. 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 Al-Midan ( ar, حي الميدان) is a neighbourhood and Municipalities of Damascus, municipality in Damascus, Syria, just south of the old walled city and very near the modern city centre. In the 2004 census, it had a population of 177,456 ...

Midan
district outside the walls (mostly Orthodox) were, however, protected by their Muslim neighbors. American Missionary E.C. Miller records that in 1867 the population of the city was 'about' 140,000, of whom 30,000 were Christians, 10,000 Jews and 100,000 'Mohammedans' with fewer than 100 Protestant Christians. In the meantime, American writer Mark Twain visited Damascus, then wrote about his travel in ''The Innocents Abroad'', in which he mentioned: "Though old as history itself, thou art fresh as the breath of spring, blooming as thine own rose-bud, and fragrant as thine own orange flower, O Damascus, pearl of the East!". In November 1898, German emperor Wilhelm II, German Emperor, Wilhelm II toured Damascus, during his trip to the Ottoman Empire.


Modern period


20th century

In the early years of the 20th century, nationalist sentiment in Damascus, initially cultural in its interest, began to take a political coloring, largely in reaction to the turkicisation program of the Committee of Union and Progress 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 and the British Imperial forces approached, residents fired on the retreating Turkish troops. On 1 October 1918, T.E. Lawrence Capture of Damascus, entered Damascus, the third arrival of the day, the first being the Australian 3rd Light Horse Brigade, led by Major A.C.N. 'Harry' Olden. Two days later, 3 October 1918, Sharifian Army, the forces of the Arab revolt led by Faisal I of Iraq, Prince Faysal also entered Damascus. A military government under Shukri Pasha was named and Faisal I of Iraq, Faisal ibn Hussein was proclaimed Arab Kingdom of Syria, king of Syria. Political tension rose in November 1917, when the new Bolshevik government in Russia revealed the Sykes-Picot Agreement 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 in March adopted a democratic constitution. However, the Versailles Conference had granted France a League of Nations mandate, mandate over Syria, and in 1920 a French army commanded by the General Mariano Goybet crossed the Anti-Lebanon Mountains, defeated a small Syrian defensive expedition at the Battle of Maysalun and Capture of Damascus (1920), entered Damascus. The French made Damascus capital of their League of Nations French Mandate of Syria and the Lebanon, Mandate for Syria. When in 1925 the Great Syrian Revolt in the
Hauran The Hauran ( ar, حَوْرَان, ''Ḥawrān'') also spelled ''Hawran'' or ''Houran'') is a region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of th ...
spread to Damascus, the French suppressed with heavy weaponry, bombing and shelling the city on 9 May 1926. As a result, the area of the old city between Al-Hamidiyah Souq and Medhat Pasha Souq was burned to the ground, with many deaths, and has since then been known as ''al-Hariqa'' ("the fire"). The old city was surrounded with barbed wire to prevent rebels infiltrating from the
Ghouta A satellite view of Damascus in 2006 Ghouta ( ar, غُوطَةُ دِمَشْقَ / ALA-LC: ''Ḡūṭat Dimašq'') is a countryside and suburban area in southwestern Syria that surrounds the city of Damascus along its eastern and southern rim. ...
, and a new road was built outside the northern ramparts to facilitate the movement of armored cars. On 21 June 1941, 3 weeks into the Allied Syria-Lebanon campaign, Battle of Damascus (1941), Damascus was captured from the Vichy French forces by a mixed British Indian and Free French force. The French agreed to withdraw in 1946, following the British intervention during the Levant Crisis, thus leading to the full independence of Syria. Damascus remained the capital.


21st century

By January 2012, Rif Dimashq Governorate campaign, clashes between the regular army and rebels reached the outskirts of Damascus, reportedly preventing people from leaving or reaching their houses, especially when security operations there intensified from the end of January into February. By June 2012, bullets and shrapnel shells smashed into homes in Damascus overnight as troops battled the Free Syrian Army in the streets. At least three tank shells slammed into residential areas in the central Damascus neighborhood of Qaboun, according to activists. Intense exchanges of assault-rifle fire marked the clash, according to residents and amateur video posted online. The Damascus suburb of
Ghouta A satellite view of Damascus in 2006 Ghouta ( ar, غُوطَةُ دِمَشْقَ / ALA-LC: ''Ḡūṭat Dimašq'') is a countryside and suburban area in southwestern Syria that surrounds the city of Damascus along its eastern and southern rim. ...
suffered heavy bombing in December 2017 and a further wave of bombing started in February 2018, also known as Rif Dimashq offensive (February–April 2018), Rif Dimashq Offensive. On 20 May 2018, Damascus and the entire Rif Dimashq Governorate came fully under government control for the first time in 7 years after the evacuation of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, IS from Yarmouk Camp. In September 2019, Damascus entered the ''Guinness World Records'' as the least liveable city, scoring 30.7 points on the Economist Intelligence Unit, Economist's Global Liveability Ranking, Global Liveability Index in 2019, based on factors such as: stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure. However, the trend of being the least liveable city on Earth started in 2017, and continued as of 2020.


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 has also held an annual Damascus International Fair, international trade exposition every fall, since 1954. The tourism industry in Damascus has a lot of potential, however the civil war has hampered these prospects. 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.
In 2009 new office space was built and became available on the real estate market. The real-estate sector is stopped due to the terrorism and exodus of the population. Damascus is home to a wide range of industrial activity, such as textile, food processing, cement and various chemical industries. The majority of factories are run by the state, however limited privatization in addition to economic activities led by the private sector, were permitted starting in the early 2000s with the liberalization of trade that took place. Traditional handcrafts and artisan copper engravings are still produced in the old city. The Damascus Securities Exchange, Damascus stock exchange formally opened for trade in March 2009, and the exchange is the only stock exchange in Syria. It is 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 2011 was 1,711,000. Damascus is the center of a crowded metropolitan area with an estimated population of 5 million. The metropolitan area of Damascus includes the cities of Douma, Syria, Douma, Harasta, Darayya, Al-Tall (Syria), Al-Tall and Jaramana. The city's growth rate is higher than Syria as a whole, primarily due to Urbanization, rural-urban migration and the influx of young Syrian migrants drawn by employment and educational opportunities. The migration of Syrian youths to Damascus has resulted in an average age within the city that is below the national average. Nonetheless, the population of Damascus is thought to have decreased in recent years as a result of the ongoing
Syrian Civil War#REDIRECT Syrian civil war The Syrian civil war ( ar, الْحَرْبُ الْأَهْلِيَّةُ السُّورِيَّةُ, ''al-ḥarb al-ʾahlīyah as-sūrīyah'') is an ongoing multi-sided civil war in Syria fought between the Syrian Ara ...

Syrian Civil War
.


Ethnicity

The vast majority of Damascenes are Syrian Arabs. The Kurds in Syria, Kurds are the largest ethnic minority, with a population of approximately 300,000. They reside primarily in the neighborhoods of Wadi al-Mashari ("Zorava" or "Zore Afa" in Kurdish) and Rukneddine, Rukn al-Din. Other minorities include Syrian Turkmen, Armenians, Assyrians, Circassians and a small Greek community. Among the city's minorities is a small Palestinian people, Palestinian community.


Religion

Islam is the dominant religion. The majority of Muslims are Sunni while Alawites and Twelver Shi'a comprise sizeable minorities. Alawites live primarily in the
Mezzeh Mezzeh ( ar, ٱلْمَزَّة, al-Mazzah, also transcribed as al-Mazzah, el-Mezze, etc.) is a in , , due west of . It lies to the southwest of central Damascus, along the Mezzeh highway (also known as Fayez Mansour). It started gaining impor ...
districts of Mezzeh 86 and Sumariyah. Twelvers primarily live near the Shia holy sites of Sayyidah Ruqayya Mosque, Sayyidah Ruqayya and Sayyidah Zaynab Mosque, Sayyidah Zaynab. It is believed that there are more than 200 mosques in Damascus, the most well-known being the Umayyad Mosque. Christians represent about 15%–20% of the population. Several Eastern Christian rites have their headquarters in Damascus, including the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Syriac Catholic Church, and the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch. The Christian districts in the city are Bab Tuma, Qassaa and Ghassani. Each have many churches, most notably the ancient Chapel of Saint Paul and Cathedral of Saint George, Damascus, St Georges Cathedral in Bab Tuma. At the suburb of Our Lady of Soufanieh, Soufanieh a series of apparitions of the Virgin Mary have reportedly been observed between 1982 and 2004. A smaller Druze minority inhabits the city, notably in the mixed Christian-Druze suburbs of Tadamon, Syria, Tadamon, Jaramana, and Sahnaya. The Patriarchal See of the Syriac Orthodox is based in Damascus, Bab Toma. This church is independent of the Middle Eastern-based Syriac Orthodox Church in Damascus and has its own leadership and structure in India, although both practice the same or similar denomination of Christianity. There are 700,000 Antiochian Greeks, members of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch in Syria, who are the bulk of the Christian population alongside 400,000 Assyrians in Syria, Assyrians/Syriacs and 30-100,000 Armenians in Syria, Armenians and 350,000 Catholics. There was a small Syrian Jews, Jewish community namely in what is called ''Haret al-Yahud'' the Jewish quarter. They are the remnants of an ancient and much larger Syrian Jews, Jewish presence in Syria, dating back at least to Roman times, if not before to the time of King David.


Gallery

Melkite Greek Catholic Church, Damascus, Syria.jpg, The Cathedral of the Dormition of Our Lady, Damascus, Greek-Melkite Patriarchal Cathedral of the Dormition of Our Lady Syriac Catholic Church, Damascus 01.jpg, The Syriac Catholic Cathedral of Saint Paul Damascus-Bab Kisan.jpg, The Chapel of Saint Paul Takiyya as-Süleimaniyya Mosque 01.jpg, The Tekkiye Mosque File:Syria, Damascus, The Umayyad Mosque, The Great Mosque of Damascus.jpg, The Umayyad Mosque Sayyidah Ruqayya Mosque 03.jpg, The Sayyidah Ruqayya Mosque


Sufism

Sufism throughout the second half of the 20th century has been an influential current in the Sunni religious practises, particularly in Damascus. The largest women-only and girls-only Muslim movement in the world happens to be Sufi-oriented and is based in Damascus, led by Munira al-Qubaysi. Syrian Sufism has its stronghold in urban regions such as Damascus, where it also established political movements such as Zayd, with the help of a series of mosques, and clergy such as Abd al-Ghani al-Nabulsi, Sa'id Hawwa, Abd al-Rahman al-Shaghouri and Muhammad al-Yaqoubi.


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 below the modern level. The Citadel of Damascus is in the northwest corner of the Old City. The ''Damascus Straight Street'' (referred to in the account of the Conversion of Saint Paul, conversion of Paul of Tarsus, St. Paul in Acts of the Apostles, Acts 9:11), also known as the ''Via Recta'', was the Decumanus Maximus, decumanus (east–west main street) of Roman Damascus, and extended for over . Today, it consists of the street of Bab Sharqi and the Souk Medhat Pasha, a covered market. The Bab Sharqi street is filled with small shops and leads to the old Christian quarter of Bab Tuma (St. Thomas's Gate). Medhat Pasha Souq 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 Saint Ananias, House of Ananias, an underground chapel that was the cellar of Ananias of Damascus, Ananias's house. The Umayyad Mosque, 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 of Saladin, mausoleum where Saladin was buried is located in the gardens just outside the mosque. Sayyidah Ruqayya Mosque, the shrine of the youngest daughter of Husayn ibn Ali, can also be found near the Umayyad Mosque. The ancient district of Amara District, Amara is also within a walking distance from these sites. Another heavily visited site is Sayyidah Zaynab Mosque, where the tomb of Zaynab bint Ali is located. Shias, Fatemids and Dawoodi Bohras believe that after the battle of Karbala (680 AD), in Iraq, the Umayyad Caliph Yezid brought Imam Husain's head to Damascus, where it was first kept in the courtyard of Yezid Mahal, now part of Umayyad Mosque complex. All other remaining members of Imam Husain's family (left alive after Karbala) along with heads of all other companions, who were killed at Karbala, were also brought to Damascus. These members were kept as prisoners on the outskirts of the city (near Bab al-Saghir), where the other heads were kept at the same location, now called Ru’ûs ash-Shuhadâ-e-Karbala or ganj-e-sarha-e-shuhada-e-Karbala. There is a qibla (place of worship) marked at the place, where devotees say Ali ibn Husayn, Imam Ali-Zain-ul-Abedin used to pray while in captivity. The Harat Al Yehud or Jewish Quarter is a recently restored historical tourist destination popular among Europeans before the outbreak of civil war.


Walls and gates of Damascus

The Old City of Damascus with an approximate area of 86.12 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-Faradis ("the gate of the orchards", or "of the paradise") * Bab al-Salam ("the gate of peace"), all on the north boundary of the Old City * Bab Tuma ("Touma" or "Thomas's Gate") in the north-east corner, leading into the Christian quarter of the same name, * Bab Sharqi ("eastern gate") in the east wall, the only one to retain its Roman plan * Bab Kisan 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 has been closed and turned into Chapel of Saint Paul marking this event, * Bab al-Saghir (The Small Gate) * Bab al-Jabiya 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 (Damascus), Bab al-Faraj, Bab Mousalla and Bab Sreija, both to the south-west of the walled city.


Churches in the old city

* Chapel of Saint Paul * House of Saint Ananias * Mariamite Cathedral of Damascus * Cathedral of the Dormition of Our Lady, Damascus, Cathedral of the Dormition of Our Lady * Saint John the Damascene Church * Saint Paul's Laura * Cathedral of Saint George, Damascus, Saint George's Syriac Orthodox Cathedral


Islamic sites in the old city

* Umayyad Mosque, also known as the Great Mosque of Damascus * Sayyidah Ruqayya Mosque * Bab Saghir Cemetery * Mausoleum of Saladin * Nabi Habeel Mosque


Madrasas

* Al-Adiliyah Madrasa * Az-Zahiriyah Library * Nur al-Din Madrasa


Khans

* Khan Jaqmaq * Khan As'ad Pasha * Khan Sulayman Pasha


Old Damascene houses

* Azm Palace, originally built in 1750 as the residence for the Ottoman Empire, Ottoman governor of Damascus As'ad Pasha al-Azm, housing the Museum of Arts and Popular Traditions. * Bayt al-Aqqad. * Maktab Anbar, a mid-19th-century Jewish private mansion, restored by the Ministry of Culture (Syria), Ministry of Culture in 1976 to serve as a library, exhibition center, museum and craft workshops. * Beit al-Mamlouka Hotel, Beit al-Mamlouka, a 17th-century Damascene house, serving as a luxury boutique hotel within the old city since 2005.


Threats to the future of the old City

Due to the rapid decline of the population of Old Damascus (between 1995 and 2009 about 30,000 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 stretch of rampart walls as part of a redevelopment scheme. These factors resulted in the Old City being placed by the World Monuments Fund 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.


State of old Damascus

In spite of the recommendations of the UNESCO World Heritage Center: * Souq al-Atiq, 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 Ancient City of Damascus, Old City of Damascus and notably the district of Bab Tuma have been recognized by The World Monument Fund as one of the most endangered sites in the world. In October 2010, Global Heritage Fund named Damascus one of 12 Cultural heritage, cultural heritage sites most "on the verge" of irreparable loss and destruction.


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 higher institutions, several new universities were established in the city and in the surrounding area, including: * Syrian Virtual University * International University for Science and Technology * Syrian Private University * Arab International University * University of Kalamoon * Yarmouk Private University * Wadi International University * Al-Jazeera University * European University Damascus The institutes play an important rule in the education, including: * Higher Institute of Business Administration * Higher Institute for Applied Science and Technology * Higher Institute for Dramatic Arts * National Institute of Administration


Transportation

The main airport is Damascus International Airport, approximately away from the city, with connections to a few Middle Eastern cities. Before the beginning of the Syrian civil war, the Airport had connectivity to many Asian, European, African, and, 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 stops, 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. Served by Chemins de Fer Syriens, the former main railway station of Damascus was Hejaz Railway, al-Hejaz railway station, about 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. 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 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.


Museums

* National Museum of Damascus * Azem Palace * Military Museum * October War Panorama Museum * Museum of Arabic Calligraphy * Nur al-Din Bimaristan


Sports and leisure

Popular sports include association football, football, basketball, swimming, tennis, table tennis, Equestrianism, equestrian and chess. Damascus is home to many football clubs that participate in the Syrian Premier League including Al-Jaish SC (Syria), al-Jaish, Al-Shorta SC (Syria), al-Shorta, Al-Wahda SC (Syria), Al-Wahda and Al-Majd SC, Al-Majd. Many Other sport clubs are located in several districts of the city: Barada SC, Al-Nidal SC, Al-Muhafaza SC, Al-Muhafaza, Qasioun SC, al-Thawra SC, Maysalun SC, al-Fayhaa SC, Dummar SC, al-Majd SC and al-Arin SC. The 1976 Pan Arab Games, fifth and the 1992 Pan Arab Games, seventh Pan Arab Games were held in Damascus in 1976 and 1992 respectively. The now modernized Al-Fayhaa Sports City features a basketball court and a hall that can accommodate up to 8,000 people. In late November 2021, Syria's national basketball team played there against Kazakhstan men's national basketball team, Kazakhstan, making Damascus host of Syria's first international basketball tournament in almost two decades. The city also has a modern golf course located near the Ebla Cham Palace Hotel at the southeastern outskirts of Damascus. Damascus has busy nightlife. Coffeehouses offer Arabic coffee, Arabic tea, tea and nargileh (water pipes). Card games, Tables (board game), tables (backgammon variants), and chess are activities frequented in cafés. These coffeehouses have had in the past an international reputation, as indicated by Letitia Elizabeth Landon's poem, ''Cafes in Damascus'', of 1836. Current movies can be seen at Cinema City which was previously known as Cinema Dimashq. Tishreen Park is one of the largest parks in Damascus. It is home to the annual Damascus Flower Show. Other parks include: al-Jahiz, al-Sibbki, al-Tijara, al-Wahda, etc.. The city's famous
Ghouta A satellite view of Damascus in 2006 Ghouta ( ar, غُوطَةُ دِمَشْقَ / ALA-LC: ''Ḡūṭat Dimašq'') is a countryside and suburban area in southwestern Syria that surrounds the city of Damascus along its eastern and southern rim. ...
oasis is also a weekend-destination for recreation. Many recreation centers operate in the city including sport clubs, swimming pools and golf courses. The Syrian Arab Horse Association in Damascus offers a wide range of activities and services for horse breeders and riders.


Nearby attractions

* Madaya, Syria, Madaya: a small mountainous town well known holiday resort. * Bloudan: a town located 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. * Zabadani: 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. * Saidnaya: a city located in the mountains, Above mean sea level, above sea level, it was one of the episcopal cities of the ancient Patriarchate of Antioch.


Twin towns – sister cities

* Ankara, Turkey * Bucharest, Romania * Buenos Aires, Argentina * Córdoba, Spain, Córdoba, Spain * Dubai, United Arab Emirates * Istanbul, Turkey * Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan * Toledo, Spain, Toledo, Spain * Yerevan, Armenia


Notable people from Damascus


See also

*Damascus Document *List of World Heritage in Danger


Notes


References


Bibliography

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *


External links

*
Map of Damascus, 1929
Eran Laor Cartographic Collection, The National Library of Israel

{{Authority control Damascus, Cities in Syria Levant Sufi Muslim communities in Syria Capitals in Asia Damascus Governorate Amarna letters locations Archaeological sites in Rif Dimashq Governorate Capitals of caliphates Populated places along the Silk Road Populated places established in the 7th millennium BC World Heritage Sites in Danger New Testament cities