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Damascus Cultural Tour

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Key Information:
Tour Duration: 3 - 8 day(s)
Group Size: 1 - 10 people
Destination(s): Syria  
Specialty Categories: Cultural Journey  
Season: January - December
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: No
Minimum Per Person Price: 185 US Dollar (USD)
Maximum Per Person Price: 1295 US Dollar (USD)

After a short stop in Chtaura, we proceed to Damascus where we visit the Omayyad Mosque, Azm Palace and National Museum. Lunch then in the afternoon, we visit Anania's house and the Via Recta. Then free time for shopping. Damascus is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. It has occupied a position of importance in the fields of science, culture, politics, art, commerce, and industry from the earliest times. It has been called 'al-Fayha' (the 'Fragrant city'), al-Sham, Jollaq, and ‘Pearl of the Orient’ as the Emperor Julian named it. It was mentioned in the Holy Qur'an as 'the many-columned city of Aram'. Damascus became the capital of the first Arab state at the time of the Omayyad in 661 A.D.

This marked the beginning of its golden epoch, and for a whole century it was the center of the youthful Islamic Empire. This reached its peak of expansion during this period, and came to stretch from the shores of the Atlantic and the Pyrenees in the west, to the river Indus and China in the east. Following the decline and fall of the Omayyad, Damascus went through a period of neglect and deterioration. It suffered disaster and destruction, seeing only temporary prosperity, depending on whose domination it was subjected to. However, when Independence was achieved in 1946, the city started to regain its importance as a significant cultural and political center in the Arab world.

The National Museum:

The National Museum of Damascus is generally recognized as one of the finest of its kind in the world. Visitors can see artifacts of the great civilizations that emerged and flourished in Syria. There are thousands of statues, stamps, pieces of jewelry, weapons, precious stones; sculpture, masks, tablets, textiles, mosaics, glass-work and earthenware, coins, and manuscripts from the ancient Syrian kingdoms of Ebla, Ugarit, Palmyra, Tel Sukas, Mari, Doura Europos, Bosra, Shahba and others.

The Walls and the Gates:

The Wall was built in the Roman era with large, tapered stones. It was oblong in shape, designed in the manner of Roman military camps, cities, and fortifications. There are seven gates: Bab Sharqi, Bab al-Jabieh, Bab Keissan, Bab al-Saghir, Bab Tuma, Bab al-Jeniq, and Bab al-Faradiss. The main thoroughfare traversed the city from Bab al-Jabieh to Bab Sharqi; on both sides there were Corinthian columns, and across it numerous triumphal arches.

The Omayyad Mosque:

This great Mosque stands at the heart of the Old City at the end of Souq al-Hamidiyeh. It was built by the Omayyad Caliph al-Walid ibn Abdul Malek in 705 A.D. when Damascus was the capital of the Arab Islamic Empire. When al-Walid decided to erect an impressive mosque suited to the grandeur of the Arab state 'whose like was never built before, nor will ever be built after' as he is reported to have said, he negotiated with the Christian community of Damascus, and undertook to construct a new church for them (St. John's) and allot several pieces of land for other churches, if they relinquished their right to their part of the Mosque. They agreed. It took ten years and eleven million gold dinars, as well as a huge number of masons, artists, builders, carpenters, marble-layers, and painters to complete. It became an architectural model for hundreds of mosques throughout the Islamic world.

The Azm Palace:

This also stands at the heart of the Old City, on the southern side of the Omayyad Mosque, and very close to it. It is an astonishing example of a Damascene house, where the simple, almost primitive, exterior contrasts rather sharply with the beauty and sophistication of the interior. Here one finds a sense of space, a wealth of polychrome stone, splendid marble, cascading fountains, and fragrant flowers. The palace was built in the mid-eighteenth century for the Governor of Damascus.

The Souqs:

The old covered souqs of Damascus have a unique flavor you can savor with eyes closed. As you walk about in the warm darkness of these streets with their fragrant scents, spices, and colourful merchandise spilling out of the shops onto the pavements, you enter the strange world of exotic legends. Most prominent of these souqs are:

Souq Al Hamidiyeh:

Follows a straight line from the west (where Bab al-Nasr used to be) to the Omayyad Mosque. It dates back to 1863, to the rule of the Ottoman Sultan Abdul-Hamid, after whom the souq was called. It is covered with high iron vaulting, so old that sun rays filter through it into the darkness of the souq. The
shops here sell everything from tissues to leather-work, from sweets and ice-cream to exquisite handmade brocades, mosaic, and copper inlaid with silver.

Souq Midhat Basha:

The Long Souq: Founded by the governor of Damascus Midhat Pasha in 1878. It stands above the Roman 'Street Called Straight' which used to traverse the city from Bab al-Jabieh to Bab Sharqi, and runs parallel to souq al-Hamidiyeh, with numerous side-souqs separating them.

Souq Al Harir:

Founded by Darwish Pasha in 1574.Its entrance is at the end of souq al-Hamidiyeh just outside the Omayyad Mosque. Its shops are filled with local embroidered cloths, perfume essence, and tailoring and sewing requisites. Here, too, a number of old khans have been converted into shops, best known for their cloaks, capes, mantles, shawls, and 'galabiyas'.

Souq Al Bzourieh:

Extends between Souq Midhat Pasha and the Omayyad Mosque and is famous for its quaint little fruit, medicinal herbs, and confectionery. In the middle of this souq stands a bath (one of the two hundred public baths) which has been in
continuous use from the twelfth century.

- 2 nights:
* 3 star: 185
* 3 star superior: 200
* 4 star: 250
* 4 star superior: 305
* 5 star: 335
* 5 star superior (bed only): 390

- 3 nights:
* 3 star: 295
* 3 star superior: 315
* 4 star: 390
* 4 star superior: 475
* 5 star: 520
* 5 star superior (bed only): 600

- 4 nights:
* 3 star: 390
* 3 star superior: 425
* 4 star: 520
* 4 star superior: 630
* 5 star: 695
* 5 star superior (bed only): 805

- 5 nights:
* 3 star: 430
* 3 star superior: 470
* 4 star: 590
* 4 star superior: 730
* 5 star: 805
* 5 star superior (bed only): 945

- 6 nights:
* 3 star: 540
* 3 star superior: 585
* 4 star: 735
* 4 star superior: 900
* 5 star: 990
* 5 star superior (bed only): 1155

- 7 nights:
* 3 star: 580
* 3 star superior: 630
* 4 star: 805
* 4 star superior: 995
* 5 star: 1105
* 5 star superior (bed only): 1295

- Single supplement (per night):
* 3 star: 40
* 3 star superior: 55
* 4 star: 70
* 4 star superior: 85
* 5 star: 100
* 5 star superior (bed only): 150.

Note: The package rates are in US dollars per person sharing a double room.

Airfare is not included in the tour price.