… Still Praying for Damascus
Reminiscing … a short while before the madness of war broke out, a dear friend, and myself made an incredibly vivid journey to Syria – Damascus in 2009. Encountered many beautiful people and places which helped shape memories, we shall carry always with much warmth in our hearts and a special light in your eyes, whenever the name of this awe inspiring city is mentioned.
Damascus commonly known as al-Shaam is also known as the “City of Jasmine” Arabic: (Madinatul Yasmin) It is the capital and largest city of Syria, as well as one of the country’s 14 governorates. Damascus, a major cultural and religious center of the Levant, is widely known as the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world.
Located in southwestern Syria, it is the center of a large metropolitan area of four million people. Damascus experiences a semi-arid climate due to the rain shadow effect.
The 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 from 661 to 750. The seat of Islamic power was moved to Baghdad after the
victory of the Abbasid dynasty. After a political decline throughout the Abbasid era, Damascus regained significant importance in the Ayyubid and Mamluk periods. During Ottoman rule, the city perished completely while maintaining a certain cultural prestige. Damascus was chosen as the
2008 Arab Capital of Culture.
On entering an old covered market (souk/bazaar) in Syria, you will realize that history is something living and tangible, something you can see, touch and smell. A journey through old Damascus is a journey into both the past and the present at the same time. Under a Roman arch, built centuries before Christ, you might find a shop selling the latest electronic gadgets. Or you may pass an Ottoman caravanserai, bustling under its evocative Arabesque designs with present-day commercial activity.
The journey to Damascus (Dimashq) had a profound and exceptionally poignant effect on me because of the strength of its history. It was thought-provoking to note that although most of the cities and towns from biblical times have fallen into ruin, and regular tourist attractions in other cities around world …. Damascus has endured the test of time and still enraptures all those who tread its soil. The radiant energy prevalent in Damascus was unique and such as I have not experienced elsewhere.