Damascus, in southwestern Syria, is widely believed to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. Its historical importance has led to the Old City's designation as a World Heritage Site.
Westerners are perhaps best familiar with Damascus in relation to the Apostle Paul, who was baptized by Ananias on Straight Street. Damascus also has a connection with John the Baptist: his head is believed to be in a chapel within the great Umayyad Mosque, one of the oldest mosques in the world.
Damascus has always been an important religious center (the Umayyad Mosque stands on the site of a Roman temple and a Christian church) and it remains so today. Among its many religious places are numerous mosques, several churches, and an important Shia shrine.



Melihat kota Damascus ke bawah


Damascus or Dimashq, capital and chief city of Syria, in southwestern Syria, on the Baradá River, near the Anti-Lebanon Mountains in the southwestern part of the country. The greater part of Damascus, including the rectangular ancient city, is on the south bank of the Baradá modern suburbs extend from the north bank.

Damascus has long been an important commercial center. In former times it was famous for dried fruit, wine, wool, linens, and silks. Damask, a type of patterned fabric, was named for the silk fabrics woven in Damascus. The city was notable also for the manufacture and transshipment of damascened steel sword blades, which were exceptionally hard and resilient. Today the city is the trading center for figs, almonds, and other fruit produced in the surrounding region. Industries in Damascus include handicrafts, such as the weaving of silk cloth and the making of leather goods, filigreed gold and silver objects, and inlaid wooden, copper, and brass articles. Among the city's other manufactures are processed food, clothing, and printed material.


Along straight street


The streets of the city, with the exception of the "street called Straight" (mentioned in the Bible in Acts 9:11), on which Saint Paul is supposed to have lived, are crooked and narrow. The houses frequently combine a splendidly decorated interior with a plain and somber exterior. The walls fronting the street are usually without windows.


Great mosque


Mihrab, inside the mosque, the niche pointing to Mecca


Damascus has more than 200 mosques, of which 70 are still in use. Of these, the Umayyad Mosque, or Great Mosque, is the most important.


Mimbar, where the message at Friday prayers is said


The treasury, safest place to store valuables was thought to be in the courtyard of the mosque



Said to have been a heathen temple, it was converted into a Christian church at the end of the 4th century. It then contained what was believed to be the head of Saint John the Baptist and was named the Cathedral of Saint John.


Shrine where the head of Saint John the Baptist is said to be


Other noteworthy mosques are the Sinani-yah, with a striking green-tiled tower, and the Tekkeyah, which was founded in 1516 on the riverbank west of the city as a refuge for poor pilgrims. The National Library, the National Museum, and the University of Damascus (1923) are in the city.


Suku Bedouin


Damascus is one of the world's oldest continuously inhabited cities. According to 15th-century BC Egyptian inscriptions, Damascus was the capital of a city-state. During biblical times the city was subjugated by David, king of Judah and Israel (see 2 Samuel 8:5-6; 1 Chronicles 18:5), and later engaged in warfare with Israel. In 732 BC Damascus was conquered by the Assyrians, under Tiglath-pileser III, and in 333 and 332 BC it fell to Alexander the Great. After the death of Alexander in 323 BC, Damascus became part of the Seleucid Kingdom. It was conquered by Pompey the Great in 64 BC.


Saint Paul was early visitor
(commemorating his conversion to Christianity)


Christianity was introduced into Damascus during the 1st century AD, and the city became the seat of a bishop's diocese. In 635 it was taken by the Muslims, and for a time before the foundation of Baghdâd in 762, the city was the residence of the caliphs and was greatly adorned and fortified. In 1076 Damascus was seized by the Seljuk Turks, and in 1154 it fell to the Egyptians. Damascus was the headquarters of Saladin, sultan of Egypt and Syria, during the Third Crusade. In 1401 the Turkic conqueror Tamerlane pillaged and burned the city. It was soon rebuilt and in 1516 was wrested from Egypt by the Ottoman Turks. Damascus was returned to Egyptian rule by Ibrahim Pasha in 1832; in 1841 it was restored to the Ottoman Empire as part of Syria. An uprising of the Muslim population in 1860 resulted in the destruction of the Christian quarter and the massacre of many Christians.


Saint Paul was threatened and had to leave the city with a basket over the wall


The wall as it remains today


During World War I (1914-1918), Turkish and German troops, directing their operations against the Suez Canal, were based in Damascus. In 1918 the city was captured by combined forces under British Field Marshal Edmund Henry Allenby and the Arab leader who became Faisal I, king of Iraq. Faisal later attempted to make Damascus the capital of an independent Arab state, and in March 1920 he was proclaimed king of Syria by a Syrian congress meeting in Damascus. In July the French, who had been granted a mandate over Syria by the Supreme Council of the Allied Powers, occupied Damascus. Between 1925 and 1927, the French were driven out of Damascus twice during revolts by the Druze, a religious sect; each time, they reoccupied the city after heavy bombardments. Much of the city was ruined in the fighting, and many inhabitants were killed. Following the defeat of France by Germany in 1940, during World War II, the pro-German Vichy government of France established in Damascus a colonial regime favorable to Germany. In 1941 a combined Allied force attacked Syria and took Damascus, which became the capital of independent Syria in 1946. Population (1994) 1,394,322.



Crac de Chevaliers (Crusader's Castle)




Secular builders of the Middle Ages constructed great buildings in the years 1000 to 1400. The medieval castle is a romantic symbol of feudalism; one of the most impressive and best-preserved examples is the Krak des Chevaliers (1131) in Syria, built by the Knights Hospitalers at the time of the Crusades.




Members of the military religious order of the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem are most often referred to as Hospitalers. The Hospitalers were the oldest institution among the three great military orders of the Roman Church in Palestine, although they originally performed charitable rather than military functions. They were established before the First Crusade (1095-1099). In the 11th century the French nobleman Gerard founded an order to care for sick pilgrims near the Church of Saint John the Baptist in Jerusalem. In 1113 Pope Paschal II officially recognized the order, which limited membership to men of noble birth.

Chapel interior


Members of the order wore a black cloak with an eight-pointed Maltese cross on it, and the order’s organization was similar to that of the Templars. The Hospitalers had a grand master who presided over a centralized organization of knights, chaplains, and servants.The Hospitalers followed the popular monastic Rule of Saint Augustine, named for the Roman bishop, Augustine of Hippo, who had inspired many of its practices. These regulations, like those that Bernard of Clairvaux wrote for the Templars, governed the order’s daily rituals of prayer, study, and work. The Rule of Saint Augustine was frequently adopted by monks in the 12th century.


From the Muslim period









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