The courtyard of the Umayyad mosque in Damascus, Syria. The golden decorations make it a must-visit
Asia,  Destinations,  Syria

The BEST Things to do in Damascus, Syria (Updated 2024)

Right in the heart of Syria lies the enchanting city of Damascus. From its rich historical sites to its bustling markets and warm-hearted locals, there are many things to do in Damascus that promise an unforgettable experience.

If you want more to be persuaded, you can read my guide with 25+ compelling reasons to Visit Syria in 2024.

Traveling to Syria in 2024

If you haven’t done so, check out my piece on traveling to Syria. This Guide has everything you need to know before visiting this majestic Middle Eastern country!

A Little Bit of History

Before we dive into the best things to do in Damascus, let’s learn a bit about the city’s history. The capital of Syria boasts a rich history dating thousands years back. Founded in the 3rd millennium BCE, it has witnessed the rise and fall of numerous empires, including the Arameans, Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Arabs. 

It was a significant part of the ancient Silk Road, facilitating trade and cultural exchanges between East and West. Over the centuries, it continued to evolve under various dynasties and rulers, each leaving its mark on the city’s architecture and culture. 

Today, Damascus remains a living testament to its remarkable historical legacy despite the challenges posed by modern times and recent conflicts.

Is Damascus the Oldest City in the World?

A minaret with birds flying around in the centre of Damascus, Syria
Things to Do in Damascus: The Old Town

This is actually a question that many people have. Truth is, Damascus is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities on Earth, but it is not the oldest.

While the exact age of Damascus is a subject of historical debate, it is widely believed to have been settled for over 4,000 years, making it one of the oldest cities with a continuous history of habitation.

Several other ancient cities, such as Jericho in the West Bank and Aleppo in Syria, also get claim to being among the oldest continuously inhabited cities. The age of these cities is often determined by archaeological evidence, historical records, and the continuity of settlement over thousands of years.

While it’s difficult to know for sure the single oldest city, Damascus remains among the most ancient and historically significant cities in the world. We’ll be exploring the best things to do in Damascus later on!

Is It Possible To Visit Damascus?

In the last few years, Syria has opened its borders to foreign visitors. In fact, in 2023, more than 1 million foreign visitors and 1.2 million Syrians from abroad chose the Middle Eastern country for their vacation. This was also the first year the country welcomed American tourists. 

Americans had been banned from traveling to Syria for the past years years, but that’s no more the case.US citizens can now visit the country as tourists. So, to answer the question, yes, it is very possible to visit Damascus.

As I wrote in the Traveling To Syria article, since 2018, you must organize your trip with a local tour operator. 

We chose to do our trip with Golden Team Syria. They have one of the most reputable travel agencies in the country. They took care of everything for us before we arrived. They were excellent professionals and tried their best to fulfill every request that we had. 

A driver and guide were solely dedicated to our trip, and they eventually became our friends. Sally and Abo Azad, if you are reading this, thank you for making this trip unforgettable. 

I will definitely choose Golden Team again next time I will be traveling to Syria, and I would highly recommend them. You can find more information on their website. Just tell them the places you would like to visit and the days you have available, and they will try to make the best program possible. All the

Is It Safe to Visit Damascus?

This is one of the most common questions I got asked from everyone who knew about me traveling to Syria.

Damascus was the least affected city during the war. There had been some conflict, but it was mainly in the outskirts. The city itself has been out of the fighting for a long time, and little to no signs of destruction can be seen around the center and the old town.

During the entire time I was in Damascus, I felt as safe as everywhere else I’ve been. For me, it was no different from any other major Middle Eastern city. 

One of the first things that has to come to your mind when planning a trip is insurance.

Safetywing’s Nomad Insurance is one of the best options available out there. With a maximum coverage of 365 days, they are a great option whether you are a Nomad or not! They offer very low rates, but excellent coverage and immediate support (in a few minutes!). The best part? Nomad Insurance can be purchased even if you have left your home country already.

Lastly, they also cover extreme sports, something that can come in very handy if you are an adventurous soul.

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*please note that Nomad Insurance does not cover travel to Syria. However, they are an excellent option for the rest of your trips.

As long as you are with your guide and listen to what they advise you, you‘ll be alright. You will pass many checkpoints while entering the city and see a lot of soldiers around, but they are there to protect you. You’ll always be greeted with a smile and a warm “Welcome.”

Obviously, I cannot guarantee anyone’s safety when traveling to Damascus, or generally in Syria, and you always travel at your own risk. However, I can say that there was no place in the city where I felt insecure, even a tiny bit. So, you’ll safely enjoy the best things to do in Damascus!

When is the Best Time to Visit Damascus?

If you’re planning a trip, the absolute ideal time to explore Damascus is during the spring months of March to June. It’s when the city blooms with beautiful flowers. The weather is pleasant, with average temperatures hovering around the mid-20s (°C), making it a more than comfortable time to sightsee or enjoy various outdoors activities. Plus, the moderate weather reduces the dust in the air which gives you stunningly clear views of the scenic landscapes surrounding the city.

However, let’s not discount the autumn months of September to November. The sweltering heat of the Middle Eastern summer begins to ease off, leading to comfortable weather with temperatures often ranging between 15 to 25°C. The changing season gives Damascus an incredibly unique charm, with the leaves changing colors and creating a beautiful backdrop for photographs. Autumn in Damascus can feel like stepping into an entirely different world. 

Remember to avoid visiting in the peak summer months of July and August if you cannot handle the heat. The desert climate sends temperatures soaring into the high 30s, even touching 40°C sometimes. If you’re not accustomed to such extreme heat, sightseeing can become somewhat uncomfortable.

 Winter, on the other hand, can get quite chilly with temperatures dipping to single digits, especially at night. While Damascus rarely sees snowfall, the cold can indeed be biting. However, for those of you who enjoy a spot of winter charm, you might just find that the sight of Damascus awash in winter light is worth braving the cold for.

Ultimately, the best time to visit would depend on your personal preferences. Tie your visit with the city’s seasonal characteristics and you’re bound to have an unforgettable experience!

How to Get to Damascus

Most European countries have yet to resume direct commercial flights to Damascus. However, we were surprised to find out that on the same day we were arriving, there was indeed a direct flight from Athens. It was a very interesting (and a bit shocking, but in a good way) think to see before boarding on our own flight to Beirut. 

The most common way people visit Damascus is through Beirut, Lebanon. Once your flight arrives in Beirut, you’ll be greeted by a driver (arranged by the local tour operator of your choice) who will take you to the Lebanon-Syria border. The trip to the border lasted around one hour and a half, but it can take longer depending on the traffic.

Then, you will pass through customs on both the Lebanese and Syrian sides. This process is easy, and straightforward. You do not have to do anything, your driver will do the talking and take care of the procedure.

Once you pay the visa fee on the Syrian side and your passport gets stamped, another driver will be waiting for you to take you to Damascus. It took around 45 minutes to arrive to the capital city of Syria. Again, this whole procedure can take some time, depending on how many people are waiting to enter Syria and the traffic on the road.

Keep in mind as a general rule that this journey can last between 2.5 to 4 hours.

Is Damascus Expensive?

Damascus, and Syria in general are actually very affordable to visit. It is for sure the cheapest country I have been to so far. A full traditional meal for 3-4 people at a middle-to-high-end restaurant will set you back around 15-20$ in total. A sandwich will cost around 1-2$, and a soda 1$ tops. 

Small souvenirs like keychains etc., cost around 0.5$ per piece. As you can see, traveling to Syria on a budget can be very easy and you’ll be able to enjoy the best things to do in Damascus without a hustle. However, there are more expensive and high-end options if you are a person who likes luxury and more expensive stuff.

Where to Stay in Damascus

Before we get into the things to do in Damascus, let’s talk about hotels. There are many great hotel choices in Damascus to choose from. From old houses that have been renovated, to 5 star hotels, there are options for every budget and taste. 

The likeliest scenario is that your tour operator will pick the hotel for you, depending on your preferences. However, I do have a suggestion to make.

We stayed in Antique Khan hotel near the old town. The hotel interior was cozy and had a traditional style, while the rooms were big, comfortable and had anything we could have asked for (yes, that includes air conditioning). 

The highlight for me was their breakfast. It included a traditional Middle-Eastern feast which was delicious! It was so good, that I would start thinking of it the night before! 

What is the best way to get around Damascus?

In Damascus, there are primarily two ways to explore the city’s rich history and culture – walking and coordinated driving tours with your tourist agency. Walking allows for an up-close and personal view of the city, giving you the chance to truly immerse in Damascus’ timeless charm. 

As the city is quite compact, a walking tour is not just feasible, but highly recommended. Walking through the city’s narrow streets and ancient alleys, under the shade of old house arches, you will uncover the heart of Damascus. It’s a walk through history, with the city’s timeless character unchanged over years. 

Conversely, if you prefer a relaxed and convenient mode of sightseeing, coordinated driving tours with your tourism agency would be an excellent choice. These tours typically include knowledgeable guides, offering you valuable insights and tucking you into the city’s amazing stories and legends. Additionally,comfortable vehicles help to make the ride smoother, increasing the overall enjoyment of your exploration. 

Lastly, regardless of the mode, always remember to involve a local agency. Their stories, insights and personal experiences from their guides add a rich depth to your Damascus experience that cannot be replicated by guidebooks or online sources.

What are some common phrases to know when traveling to Damascus?

When meandering the historic streets of Damascus, it’s a good idea to be armed with a few essential Arabic phrases. Trust me, it will make your communication flow with locals much smoother. Arabic is a rich language, embodying the essence of centuries and cultures, but don’t worry, I’m here to guide you through some key phrases: 

  • “Marhaba”: Used for both ‘hello’ and ‘hi’, it’s a phrase you’re likely to use frequently.
  • “Min fadlak” (for men) / “Min fadlik” (for women): This phrase translates to ‘please’, a universal sign of politeness.
  • “Shukran”: An effortless way to express ‘thank you’, an essential for any traveler.
  • “Aiwa” / “La”: These simple words stand for ‘yes’ and ‘no’, respectively.
  • “Darak”: Not an uncommon phrase to use when asking for directions, it means ‘your road’.
  • “Al Hammam”: Literally, ‘the bathroom’ – because, let’s face it, you’ll need to know this one.

Of course, there’s no expectation for you to become fluent overnight. The Syrian people are known for their warmth and hospitality, and they’ll surely appreciate your efforts to communicate in their language.

Lastly, don’t shy away from using any language learning apps or carrying a phrasebook with you. Remember, the goal is not perfection, but connection. Happy learning, and here’s to adding a splash of authentic Arab culture to your trip!

What are the best souvenirs to bring back from Damascus?

If you’re to looking capture the essence of your trip to Damascus in a unique memento, you’re in luck. The city’s bustling bazaars and artisan shops offer a treasure trove of traditional Syrian items that make perfect keepsakes or gifts. So, it’s time to dive in and uncover the best items to tuck into your suitcase. 

Damascene Crafts: Whether it’s intricate metalwork or beautifully crafted textiles, Damascene crafts are recognized worldwide for their quality and design. Look out for intricate mosaic boxes, elegant silverware, and embroidered table linens. Each of these items embraces the craftsmanship of this ancient city and will undoubtedly add a touch of Syrian flair to your home. 

Local Spices: Syrian cuisine is renowned for its robust flavours, largely thanks to the myriad spices used in their recipes. Consider purchasing za’atar, a popular Levantine spice blend, or sumac, known for its tartness and deep red hue. Packing a selection of these aromatic seasonings not only allows you to recreate traditional dishes at home but also transports you back to the colourful food markets of Damascus with each meal. 

Handmade Soaps: Damascus is known for its olive oil soaps, painstakingly handmade using centuries-old techniques. These soaps are not only a delightful addition to any wellness routine but also embody the Syrian tradition of self-care and wellness. 

Syrian Sweets and Delicacies: If you have a sweet tooth, don’t miss the delicious selection of Syrian sweets. Candied nuts, luscious date-filled cookies, and the renowned baklava are especially popular. These locally crafted delicacies epitomize the rich gastronomic culture of Damascus, allowing you to savor a piece of your visit long after you’ve returned home. 

Remember, the idea is to choose souvenirs that resonate with you, reflecting your unique experiences within the city. After all, these keepsakes are more than just items – they’re symbolic of the memories you made during your travels in the heart of Syria.

My Favorite Things to Do in Damascus

1. Explore the Majestic Damascus Old Town

One of the old buildings with Ottoman windows in the centre of Damascus
©Elsa Nakhleh, Local Tour Guide and Operator

As I wrote above, the Old Town of Damascus is one of the world’s oldest continually inhabited areas. With a history of over 4,000 years, it has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site! 

The town consists of many parallel streets, connected through alleys. The most famous one would be the Straight Street.

The Straight Street dates back to Roman times and is believed to have been constructed during the 1st century AD. It was a vital part of the Roman city of Damascus, known as “Damascus Antiqua.”

It is approximately 1,500 meters long and stretches from the Eastern Gate of the old city to the Umayyad Mosque in the west. It runs in a straight line from east to west, thus it got its name.

The architecture of the Straight Street reflects various historical periods, with influences from Roman, Byzantine, and Islamic civilizations. You can see Roman columns and arches, as well as medieval and Islamic buildings along the way.

Every street, corner, every little detail of the Old Town of Damascus has a story to tell. I could literally spend hours wandering around, checking out shops, old houses, and street food vendors.There are so many things

2. Enjoy Local Delicacies at the Street Food Street

Traditional syrian dolma. Fresh street food is one of my favorite things to do in Damascus
Things to Do in Damascus: Enjoy mouthwatering street food!

In Damascus, The street food street is a must-visit for street food lovers. This bustling street is lined with vendors offering Middle Eastern favorites like shawarma, falafel, dolma, and delicious sweets like baklava and knafeh. 

It’s a vibrant food hub that captures the essence of Syrian cuisine and culture, where locals and tourists gather to enjoy delicious street eats and enjoy the lively atmosphere. If you love street food, this will be one of your favorite things to do in Damascus!

3. Wander, relax, and shop at the Al-Hamidiyah Souq

The crowded Al-Hamidiyeh Souk in Damascus, Syria with many people walking through it.
Things to Do in Damascus: The Al-Hamidiyah Souq

Imagine strolling through a market where people have been selling and purchasing goods for centuries. 

The Al-Hamidiyah Souq is like a time machine, a place where traditional charm meets centuries-old architecture. 

Wandering around, you’ll pass through hudrends of shops and vendors selling a great variety of goods, from clothes and spices to delicate handicrafts. It is maybe the best place to get your souvenirs, too!

The souk always buzzing with people, and its vibes are as traditional as it can get! I cannot even count the things I got from there, and I do not regret it one bit. The best thing? Some of the most amazing things to do in Damascus are located nearby!

Don’t forget to stop at the Ruins of the Jupiter Temple, right outside the Umayyad Mosque. They are located right in the entrance of the souk, and are just stunning!

4. Have an Ice Cream at Bakdash

The Delicious Ice Cream From Bakdash. A vanilla flavor with sprinkled nuts
Things to Do in Damascus: The Delicious Ice Cream From Bakdash

Attention ice cream lovers! This one is for you! Bakdash is a famous ice cream shop in the Al-Hamidiyah Souq. Established in 1895, it is known for serving some of the most delicious and traditional Syrian ice cream. 

What sets Bagdash ice cream apart is its unique texture, achieved by using mastic, an extract from the mastic tree, and sahlab, a flour made from the roots of the plant orchid. These ingredients give the ice cream a distinct chewy quality, making it quite different from the typical creamy texture ice creams. 

The most popular flavor is the “Arabic ice cream,” served with pistachios and sweet syrup.

Bagdash is a historic and charming shop that’s loved by locals and visitors. In fact, it is so famous and loved that, during the war, another branch was built in Amman to serve Syrian refugees! 

I can safely say that it ranks among the best ice creams I have ever had, and surely is one of the tastiest things to do in Damascus! I loved it so much that I asked our guide to go there a second time, just right before leaving Syria! It’s undoubtedly a must-visit place to enjoy a taste of traditional Syrian ice cream. 

5. Visit the Azem palace

 The beautiful courtyard of the Azem Palace. There is a fountain in the middle and many trees and flowers
Things to Do in Damascus: The Azem Palace

The Azem Palace is a stunning historic building in the center of Damascus. It was built in the 18th century by As’ad Pasha al-Azem, the Governor of Damascus and an important leader in the region at the time. 

It was not only the home of the Governor but a place where the elite would gather and spend their time. The palace was divided into two spaces, one for men and one for women. Both have now been turned into museums with exhibits that showcase how life was back in the Ottoman period.

The palace is a beautiful example of Ottoman architecture. It is now also a social hub for locals, as families gather there to spend their free time. The vibes there are amazing. Take your time to sit and reflect on your fantastic time in Syria’s Capital. One of the most calming things to do in Damascus!

6. Take a stop at the Khan As’ad Pasha

The Khan As'ad Pasha from above, decorated in a beautiful black and white Ottoman style
Things to Do in Damascus: The Khan As’ad Pasha

The Khan As’ad Pasha is a building located in the old city. It was built in the 18th century by As’ad Pasha al-Azem as well.

It served as a popular trading hub during the Ottoman period, where travelers and merchants would rest and do business before continuing their journey through the Silk Road.

 The Khan is famous for its beautiful architecture, lovely courtyard, mosaic decorations, and elegant rooms. The distinct black and white marble, a symbol of Ottoman architecture, is just majestic.

Today, it serves as both a museum and a social gathering place where locals enjoy their coffee or a refreshing beverage.

7. Explore the Stunning Umayyad Mosque

The courtyard of the Umayyad mosque, with its golden decorations.
Things to Do in Damascus: The Umayyad Mosque

Also called the Great Mosque of Damascus, The Umayyad Mosque is a stunning sight in the heart of Damascus. 

It was built in the 8th century and is one of the world’s oldest and most important mosques (It is considered to be the 4th holiest place in Islam!). Muslim tradition believes that the Umayyad Mosque is the place where Jesus Christ will return after the end of days. 

The mosque is famous for its beautiful mosaics and towers. The exterior is just majestic. It has to be one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. The feelings of serenity and peace that arise while walking around are unmatched. 

Inside the building, there’s a massive prayer area where locals gather to sit together and pray. While the space is very big, it can be packed with people during Islamic holidays.

The Umayyad Mosque is a symbol of Damascus and cannot be missed during your visit to Syria’s capital.

8. Visit The mausoleum of Salah al-Din

The mausoleum of Salah al-Din. His white marbel tomb
Things to Do in Damascus: The mausoleum of Salah al-Din

Salah al-Din, also known as Saladin, was a famous leader in the 12th century. He is best known for leading Muslim forces during the Crusades, a series of wars between Christians and Muslims. Saladin is mainly remembered for recapturing Jerusalem from the Crusaders in 1187.

He was known for his bravery and fair treatment of his enemies, and he ruled over a large area that included Egypt and parts of Syria. 

Saladin is admired for his efforts to unite Muslims and for his impact on Islamic culture and history. His story is still well-known today and has been featured in books and movies. His mausoleum is located in the Umayyad Mosque.

Inide the mausoleum, you’ll find Saladin’s tomb in a beautifully decorated room with Islamic art. It’s a peaceful spot, offering a quiet place for people to remember and respect this important historical figure. Saladin’s bravery and honor are celebrated here, making the mausoleum a meaningful reminder of his lasting impact on the world history.

9. See the St. John the Baptist tomb

The St. John the Baptist tomb, located inside the Umayyad mosque
Things to Do in Damascus: The St. John the Baptist tomb

The tomb of John the Baptist, known as Yahya in Islam, is a special place for both Christians and Muslims. 

Christian tradition believes John the Baptist was the one who baptized Jesus. In Islam, on the other hand, John the Baptist is also respected as a prophet. 

While there have been many proclaimed sites for St. John’s burial site, the Umayyad Mosque is a strong contender among them. The tomb is located in an impressive construction inside the praying area.

One thing is for sure, this just adds up to the historical and religious significance of the Umayyad Mosque.

10. Dive Into Syrian history at the National Museum

This one is a personal favorite! The National Museum of Damascus features a great collection of artifacts from every place and historical period of Syria. 

Established in 1919, the museum is the oldest cultural heritage institution in Syria. Among the museum’s many highlights, my favorites are the tombs, sculptures and textiles from Palmyra.

The museum space inside is very modern and well-preserved. Every historical era has its own room filled with the artifacts and every information you might need to immerse yourself in Syrian history. I found it really helpful (and quite unexpected to be completely honest).

However, the exhibition is not only limited inside the museum. The outside is just as impressive, featuring sculptures and artifacts carefully placed inside its lovely garden. 

I firmly believe that the National Museum of Damascus is a gem not to be missed. I had an amazing time there and I would gladly visit it again next time. For me, it is surely among the best things to do in Damascus.

11. Find About the Story of St. Paul at the St. Ananias church

The pictures inside  St. Ananias church, depicting the life of St. Paul
Things to Do in Damascus: The St. Ananias church

Did you know that the church where St. Paul was Baptized is located in the heart of Damascus?

The story of Saint Paul’s baptism is a very interesting one. It is about a man named Saul who used to persecute Christians. 

One day, while traveling to Damascus, he saw a bright light and heard Jesus speak to him. This experience made him go blind. During these three days, a Christian named Ananias received a vision from the Lord instructing him to go to Saul and lay his hands on him to restore his sight. And that’s what he did. 

Then, he baptized him, with Paul being his new name. Afterward, the Christians helped him escape the city as he had angered the Romans with what he had done. 

His baptism marked the beginning of his new life as a Christian and his mission to share his new religion with others.

The church on itself is mainly underground, which was very cool. It was a very nice way to conclude our trip to Damascus.

12. Sit, Relax, And Have a Coffee at the Al Nawfara Coffee House

A local cafe in Damascus. People have gathered to socialize end enjoy their morning
Things to Do in Damascus: A Cozy day at the Al Nawfara Cafe

Al Nawfara Coffee House is one of Damascus’s most well-known and historic cafes. It is situated within the walls of the Old City, near the Umayyad Mosque.

It is also one of the places that keep the tradition of the storyteller alive. The storyteller is a person who narrates tales, legends, and stories from history, folklore, or literature to the cafe guests. It is a unique and traditional experience. However, we did not get the chance to hear him, as he wasn’t present at the time we were in the café. Something for next time, that’s for sure!

The cafe’s interior and exterior decor make it a cultural and social hub for those seeking a taste of authentic Syrian hospitality. Their coffee was very nice as well. If you enjoy the more slow-paced and traditional experiences, this one is among the best things to do in Damascus!

The best thing about this place, however, were the vibes. To see locals gather in a busy morning, hanging out with friends and enjoying their coffee was as authentic as it gets. The feelings there were just unique, and I highly recommend going there. 

13. Enjoy a Traditional Syrian Feast

A traditional Syrian feast consisting of Kebabs, hummus, eggplant and kibbeh in the Darmisk restaurant in Damascus
Things to Do in Damascus: A Traditional Feast at Darmisk

I am not kidding when I say that Syrian food is the best I’ve ever had while traveling. Syrian cuisine is similar to the Lebanese one. It is a flavorful blend of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean influences, reflecting its rich history. 

There is an excellent variety of traditional dishes that you have to try! Popular dishes include shawarma, falafel, and kibbeh, while mezzes like hummus and tabbouleh are typical starters. It features fresh ingredients like olive oil, herbs, and spices, often combined with bulgur, rice, and grilled meats such as lamb and chicken. 

While in Damascus, we had the chance to dine in Darmisk restaurant and Mona Lisa. 

Darmisk is one of the most famous (and beloved) restaurants, located in the heart of the old town! The place was charming, the service was excellent, and the food was from another planet! I recommend it to everyone who wants to try his first authentic Syrian food experience!

Mona Lisa restaurant was also charming and cozy, offering fresh and delicious food! While significantly more expensive than Darmisk, we had a great time there, so it would also be highly recommended. Their fried kibbeh was just unbelievable!

Eating would surely rank among my favorite things to do in Damascus!

14. Have a Drink at a Local Bar

This might sound surprising, but Syria has a lively and diverse drinking culture. 

Influenced mainly by Syria’s Christian minority, Damascus is home to many bars and clubs, like those in Europe. These bars provide a relaxed atmosphere for socializing, making them a central part of Damascus’s vibrant nightlife scene.

Afamia, a beer produced in Syria, is surely one to be noticed! Local wines and arak (like the Greek ouzo) are also popular choices you must try during your time in Syria. 

What better way would be to conclude a full, exhausting day of exploring all the great things to do in Damascus than enjoying some local drinks in a cozy bar and relaxing with the new friends that you’ve made?

15. See the Damascus Sword Monument

The Damascene sword is a giant statue located on the Umayyad Square, a large and important square in the city that connects different parts of Damascus. The monument was erected in 1986 and stands as a symbol of the city’s historical and cultural heritage.

The monument itself is a large-scale representation of a sword, crafted from metal and standing at an impressive height of 24 meters (79 feet). The sword is held upright, with the hilt at the top and the blade pointing downwards. This design is said to symbolize the peaceful nature of the Syrian people, as a sword in this position is typically seen as a sign of peace.

Visitors to the monument will notice the intricate details on the sword, including Arabic inscriptions. These inscriptions are verses from the Quran, further emphasizing the cultural and religious significance of this monument. The monument is illuminated at night, making it a beautiful sight to behold.

16. Visit the Historic Hejaz Railway station

A prominent landmark in the heart of the city, this large building stands majestically in the middle of one of Damascus' bustling streets, offering a multitude of engaging things to do.
By Heretiq – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Visiting the Hejaz Railway station is a must when in Damascus. This historic station was part of the Hejaz Railway, which was a narrow-gauge railway that ran from Damascus to Medina, through the Hejaz region of Saudi Arabia. The railway was constructed at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, during the Ottoman Empire.

The Hejaz Railway station in Damascus is a significant historical site, as it was the northern terminus of this important railway. The station is a beautiful example of Ottoman architecture, with its intricate designs and grand arches. It’s a testament to the city’s rich history and its strategic importance in the region.

Today, the Hejaz Railway station serves as a museum, offering a taste of the past. The museum showcases a collection of vintage trains, carriages, and other railway memorabilia. It’s a fascinating place for history buffs and train enthusiasts alike.

17. See the views from Mount Qassioum

Mount Qassioun, a significant place in Damascus, is a mountain that overlooks the city from the northwest. It provides a panoramic view of the Syrian capital, making it a popular spot for both locals and tourists. The mountain is steeped in history and legend, adding to its allure.

The mountain is known for its historical and cultural significance. It is believed to be the site where Cain slew Abel, according to the Bible. It is also said to be the place where the Prophet Muhammad saw a vision of the city of Damascus. These stories contribute to the mountain’s spiritual significance and attract pilgrims from around the world.

Getting to Mount Qassioun is relatively easy. It’s accessible by car, and there’s a road that leads to the top. The city lights of Damascus spread out below create a stunning spectacle. It’s a perfect spot for photography enthusiasts or anyone who wants to see the city from a different perspective.

18. Explore The October War Panorama

The Syrian Panorama building with a statue in front of it, offering tourists an unmissable sight among the many things to do in Damascus.
By Jadd Haidar – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

The October War Panorama is one of the best things to do in Damascus, Syria. It’s a grand museum and monument dedicated to the October War of 1973, also known as the Yom Kippur War. The museum offers a comprehensive understanding of the war, its causes, and its outcomes.

The Panorama is a circular building with a large rotating platform in the middle. Visitors stand on this platform and are taken on a 360-degree journey through the war. The platform moves slowly around a circular painting that is 15 meters high and 120 meters in circumference, depicting various scenes from the war.

The painting is an interesting piece of art and history, created by a team of North Korean artists over five years. It is one of the largest circular paintings in the world, and the level of detail is astounding. The scenes are brought to life with the use of light and sound effects, making the experience immersive and impactful.

Alongside the painting, the Panorama also houses a collection of military equipment used in the war. This includes tanks, aircraft, and artillery pieces, many of which are displayed outdoors. There is also a hall of fame, showcasing the portraits and biographies of Syrian soldiers who fought in the war.

19. Visit the National Opera house

A visit to the National Opera House is a must when touring Damascus. This modern structure, located in the heart of the city, is a testament to Syria’s history of arts and culture. It’s not just an opera house, but a complex that includes a drama theater, a multipurpose hall, a cinema, and a library. The architecture alone is worth the visit, blending modern design with traditional Arabic influences.

Final Thoughts

A Syrian Local shop owner selling spices inside a souk
©Elsa Nakhleh, Local Tour Guide and Operator

Visiting Damascus is like stepping into a living history book. This ancient city, though it has faced some tough times, still shines with its unique charm. From the grand Umayyad Mosque to the bustling Al-Hamidiyah Souq and the winding streets of the Old Town, there are so many amazing things to do in Damascus.

Damascus a place where you can relive the past and make your own memories in the present. So, pack your bags, start your journey, and let Damascus amaze you with its stories and the warmth of its people. It’s surely a trip you’ll cherish for a lifetime.

Before I conclude this article, I’d like to say a massive thank you to my good friend Elsa Nakhleh for providing me with some amazing photos. Elsa is a Syrian Tour Guide and Operator and a Damascus local. If you are, or thinking about planning a trip to Syria, make sure to contact her for any information you might need!

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