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Damascus Region

Maalula
معلولا

The small scenic town of Maalula (معلولا) is one of the most picturesque in Syria, nestled on the slopes of a rocky mountain canyon. Best known for its Aramaic-speaking Christian community (one of few remaining in the Middle East), the town has become a center for the preservation and revitalization of the language. The Western dialect of Aramaic spoken here is considered to be the …

Seidnaya
صيدنايا

Seidnaya (صيدنايا), a small town located in the mountains north of Damascus (دمشق), has long been a significant place of pilgrimage for Christians in the region. While more notable as a place of religious pilgrimage than for any outstanding archaeological remains, the town has ancient origins and the monastery here, easily mistaken for a castle, is quite impressive. A visit to Seidnaya (صيدنايا) is definitely …

Deir Mar Musa
دير مار موسى

Deir Mar Musa (دير مار موسى), a monastery located in the desert mountains east of the town of al-Nabk (النبك), is one of the most spectacular sites in Syria. Originally built in the middle of the 6th century, the monastery was mostly in ruin until the 1980s when a major restoration project was undertaken. This eventually led to the establishment of a new monastic community in …

Jebel Seis
جبل سيس

Jebel Seis (جبل سيس) is perhaps the most dramatic site in the entire country of Syria. Located in the far southeast corner of the Damascus Region (ريف دمشق), it may also be the most remote site in the country. The historic remains are composed of an Umayyad-era fortress and settlement at the location of an extinct volcano.   Getting There: Getting to Jebel Seis (جبل سيس) without private …

al-Seida Zeinab
السيدة زينب

al-Seida Zeinab (السيدة زينب) is the most important Shia shrine in Syria, and a major site of pilgrimage for Shia Muslims from across the Middle East. It is roughly ten kilometers southeast of Damascus (دمشق) in a predominantly Shia suburb that carries the same name. Non-Muslims are not supposed to approach the tomb itself, but are allowed inside the shrine. Officially, photography is not permitted inside, though …

Yabrud
يبرود

Yabrud (يبرود), located north of Maalula (معلولا) and southwest of al-Nabk (النبك) in the Damascus region (ريف دمشق), has evidence of tens of thousands of years of settlement and numerous historic attractions. The town itself is situated in a fertile valley, surrounded by rocky mountains. The contrast between the lush vegetation in the valley and the harsh, barren mountains is beautiful, and Yabrud (يبرود) could be …

Bludan & al-Zabadani
بلودان و الزبداني

Bludan & al-Zabadani (بلودان و الزبداني) are two neighboring towns in the mountains northwest of Damascus (دمشق). Perhaps the most popular local holiday destination for Damascenes, the area is known for its beautiful nature and its mild summer climate. In the summer, the mountains provide an escape from the heat of Damascus (دمشق), while the winter often brings snow. Most of the homes here are …

Souq Wadi Barada
سوق وادي بردى

During the Roman period, an extensive network of roads was constructed to connect Syria’s major urban centers. Two of the most important cities in the region were Damascus (دمشق) and Heliopolis, modern Baalbek (Lebanon). The village of Souq Wadi Barada (سوق وادي بردى), then the Roman settlement of Abila, was located along the route that linked these two cities. Considerable remains from the Roman period …

Qara
قارة

Qara (قارة) is a nondescript town located on the main highway between Damascus (دمشق) and Homs (حمص). It has a couple sites of historic interest, making it worth a stop if traveling through the area. Of primary interest are the well-preserved frescoes from the 10th century that are located in the Greek Orthodox Church of Saint Sergius and Bacchus. Though some of the frescoes have been moved to the …

Deir Mar Yaqoub
دير مار يعقوب

Deir Mar Yaqoub (دير مار يعقوب), a monastery dedicated to Saint Jacob, was in nearly complete ruin until the mid-90s when a restoration project began under the leadership of Lebanese and Syrian Roman Catholic nuns. Today, it is almost completely rebuilt and houses a convent. The monastery dates back to the fifth century, when the Byzantine empire controlled Syria, and it was built on the …