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)), is an adjective which means "spacious". , motto = , image_flag = Flag of Damascus.svg , image_seal = Emblem of Damascus.svg , seal_type = Seal , map_caption = , pushpin_map = Syria#Mediterranean east#Arab world#Asia , pushpin_label_position = right , pushpin_mapsize = , pushpin_map_caption = Location of Damascus within Syria , pushpin_relief = 1 , coordinates = , subdivision_type = Country , subdivision_name = , subdivision_type1 = Governorate , subdivision_name1 =
Damascus Governorate
Damascus Governorate
, Capital City , government_footnotes = , government_type = , leader_title = Governor , leader_name = Mohammad Tariq Kreishati , parts_type = Municipalities , parts = 16 , established_title = , established_date = , area_footnotes = , area_total_km2 = 105 , area_land_km2 = , area_water_km2 = , area_water_percent = , area_urban_km2 = 77 , area_urban_sq_mi = 29.73 , elevation_m = 680 , population_total = 2,503,000 , population_as_of = 2022 estimate , population_metro = , population_density_metro_km2 = , population_density_km2 = auto , population_note = , population_demonyms = en, Damascene
ar, دمشقي, links=no, Dimaşqiyy , blank3_name = HDI (2011) , blank3_info = 0.714 – high , blank_name_sec2 =
International airport
International airport
, blank_info_sec2 =
Damascus International Airport
Damascus International Airport
, timezone = , utc_offset = +3 , timezone_DST = , utc_offset_DST = , postal_code_type = , postal_code = , area_code = Country code: 963, City code: 11 , geocode = C1001 , iso_code = SY-DI , blank_name = Climate , blank_info = BWk , website = , footnotes = Damascus ( , ;
Arabic Arabic (, ' ; , ' or ) is a Semitic languages, Semitic language spoken primarily across the Arab world.Semitic languages: an international handbook / edited by Stefan Weninger; in collaboration with Geoffrey Khan, Michael P. Streck, Janet C ...

Arabic
: , ) is the capital of
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or سُورِيَة, translit=Sūriyā), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, الجمهورية العربية السورية, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-Sūrīyah), is a Western Asian country loc ...

Syria
, the oldest capital in the world and, according to some, the fourth holiest city in Islam. Colloquially known in Syria as () and titled the "City of
Jasmine Jasmine (Taxonomy (biology), taxonomic name: ''Jasminum''; , ) is a genus of shrubs and vines in the olive family (Oleaceae). It contains around 200 species native to Tropical climate, tropical and warm Temperate climate, temperate regions of E ...

Jasmine
" ( ), Damascus is a major cultural center of the
Levant The Levant () is an approximation, approximate historical geography, historical geographical term referring to a large area in the Eastern Mediterranean region of Western Asia. In its narrowest sense, which is in use today in archaeology an ...

Levant
and the
Arab world The Arab world ( ar, اَلْعَالَمُ الْعَرَبِيُّ '), formally the Arab homeland ( '), also known as the Arab nation ( '), the Arabsphere, or the Arab states, refers to a vast group of countries, mainly located in Western A ...

Arab world
. The city had an estimated population of 2,503,000 in 2022. In southwestern Syria, Damascus is the center of a large metropolitan area. Its population in 2004 was estimated to be 2.7 million people. Embedded on the eastern foothills of the
Anti-Lebanon The Anti-Lebanon Mountains ( ar, جبال لبنان الشرقية, Jibāl Lubnān ash-Sharqiyyah, Eastern Mountains of Lebanon; Lebanese Arabic: , , "Eastern Mountains") are a southwest–northeast-trending mountain range that forms most of th ...
mountain range inland from the eastern shore of the Mediterranean on a plateau
above sea level Height above mean sea level is a measure of the Vertical position, vertical distance (height, elevation or altitude) of a location in reference to a historic mean sea level taken as a vertical datum. In geodesy, it is formalized as ''orthometric h ...
, Damascus experiences a dry climate because of the
rain shadow effect A rain shadow is an area of significantly reduced rainfall behind a mountainous region, on the side facing away from prevailing winds, known as its Windward and leeward#Meteorological significance, leeward side. Evaporation, Evaporated moistu ...

rain shadow effect
. The
Barada River
Barada River
flows through Damascus. Damascus is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. First settled in the 3rd millennium BC, it was chosen as the capital of the
Umayyad Caliphate The Umayyad Caliphate (661–750 CE; , ; ar, ٱلْخِلَافَة ٱلْأُمَوِيَّة, al-Khilāfah al-ʾUmawīyah) was the second of the four major caliphates established after the death of Muhammad. The caliphate was ruled by the ...
from 661 to 750. After the victory of the
Abbasid dynasty The Abbasid dynasty or Abbasids ( ar, بنو العباس, Banu al-ʿAbbās) were an Arabs, Arab dynasty that ruled the Abbasid Caliphate between 750 and 1258. They were from the Quraysh, Qurayshi Banu Hashim, Hashimid clan of Banu Abbas, descen ...
, the seat of Islamic power was moved to
Baghdad Baghdad (; ar, بَغْدَاد , ) is the capital of Iraq and the list of largest cities in the Arab world, second-largest city in the Arab world after Cairo. It is located on the Tigris near the ruins of the ancient city of Babylon and the ...

Baghdad
. Damascus saw its importance decline throughout the Abbasid era, only to regain significant importance in the
Ayyubid The Ayyubid dynasty ( ar, الأيوبيون '; ) was the founding dynasty of the medieval Sultan of Egypt, Sultanate of Egypt established by Saladin in 1171, following his abolition of the Fatimid Caliphate, Fatimid Caliphate of Egypt. A Sunni ...

Ayyubid
and
Mamluk Mamluk ( ar, مملوك, mamlūk (singular), , ''mamālīk'' (plural), translated as "one who is owned", meaning "History of slavery in the Muslim world, slave", also Arabic transliteration, transliterated as ''Mameluke'', ''mamluq'', ''mamluke ...

Mamluk
periods. Today, it is the seat of the central government of Syria. , eight years into the
Syrian Civil War
Syrian Civil War
, Damascus was named the least livable city out of 140 global cities in the
Global Liveability Ranking The Global Livability Ranking is a yearly assessment published by the Economist Intelligence Unit The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) is the research and analysis division of the Economist Group, providing forecasting and advisory services t ...
.


Names and etymology

The name of Damascus first appeared in the geographical list of
Thutmose III Thutmose III (variously also spelt Tuthmosis or Thothmes), sometimes called Thutmose the Great, was the sixth pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty. Officially, Thutmose III ruled Egypt for almost 54 years and his reign is usually dated from 2 ...

Thutmose III
as () in the 15th century BC. The
etymology Etymology ()The New Oxford Dictionary of English (1998) – p. 633 "Etymology /ˌɛtɪˈmɒlədʒi/ the study of the class in words and the way their meanings have changed throughout time". is the study of the history of the Phonological chan ...
of the ancient name is uncertain. It is attested as () in
Akkadian
Akkadian
, () in Egyptian, () in
Old Aramaic Old Aramaic refers to the earliest stage of the Aramaic language, known from the Canaanite and Aramaic inscriptions, Aramaic inscriptions discovered since the 19th century. Emerging as the language of the city-states of the Arameans in the Levan ...

Old Aramaic
and () in
Biblical Hebrew Biblical Hebrew (, or , ), also called Classical Hebrew, is an wikt:archaic, archaic form of the Hebrew language, a language in the Canaanite languages, Canaanite branch of Semitic languages spoken by the Israelites in the area known as the ...
. A number of Akkadian spellings are found in the
Amarna letters The Amarna letters (; sometimes referred to as the Amarna correspondence or Amarna tablets, and cited with the abbreviation EA, for "El Amarna") are an archive, written on clay tablets, primarily consisting of diplomatic correspondence between t ...
, from the 14th century BC: (), (), and (). Later
Aramaic Aramaic ( syc, ܐܪܡܝܐ, Arāmāyā; oar, 𐤀𐤓𐤌𐤉𐤀; arc, 𐡀𐡓𐡌𐡉𐡀; tmr, אֲרָמִית) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic languages, Semitic language that originated in the ancient Syria (regio ...

Aramaic
spellings of the name often include an intrusive ''
resh Resh is the twentieth Letter (alphabet), letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician alphabet, Phoenician Rēsh , Hebrew alphabet, Hebrew Rēsh , Aramaic alphabet, Aramaic Rēsh , Syriac alphabet, Syriac Rēsh ܪ, and Arabic script, Arabic ...

resh
'' (letter ''r''), perhaps influenced by the root , meaning "dwelling". Thus, the English and
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through ...

Latin
name of the city is , which was imported from
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece, a country in Southern Europe: *Greeks, an ethnic group. *Greek language, a branch of the Indo-European language family. **Proto-Greek language, the assumed last common ancestor ...
and originated from the
Qumran Qumran ( he, קומראן; ar, خربة قمران ') is an archaeological site An archaeological site is a place (or group of physical sites) in which evidence of past activity is preserved (either prehistoric or recorded history, histor ...
ic (), and () in
Syriac Syriac may refer to: *Syriac language, an ancient dialect of Middle Aramaic *Sureth, one of the modern dialects of Syriac spoken in the Nineveh Plains region * Syriac alphabet ** Syriac (Unicode block) ** Syriac Supplement * Neo-Aramaic languages a ...

Syriac
", meaning "a well-watered land". In
Arabic Arabic (, ' ; , ' or ) is a Semitic languages, Semitic language spoken primarily across the Arab world.Semitic languages: an international handbook / edited by Stefan Weninger; in collaboration with Geoffrey Khan, Michael P. Streck, Janet C ...

Arabic
, the city is called Dimashq ( ). The city is also known as by the citizens of Damascus, of Syria and other Arab neighbors and Turkey (). is an Arabic term for "
Levant The Levant () is an approximation, approximate historical geography, historical geographical term referring to a large area in the Eastern Mediterranean region of Western Asia. In its narrowest sense, which is in use today in archaeology an ...

Levant
" and for "Syria"; the latter, and particularly the historical
region of Syria Syria (Hieroglyphic Luwian: 𔒂𔒠 ''Sura/i''; gr, Συρία) or Sham ( ar, ٱلشَّام, ash-Shām) is the name of a historical region located east of the Mediterranean Sea in Western Asia, broadly synonymous with the Levant. Other s ...
, is called (, ).), was a Semitic sky-god in
Canaan Canaan (; Phoenician language, Phoenician: 𐤊𐤍𐤏𐤍 – ; he, כְּנַעַן – , in pausa – ; grc-bib, Χανααν – ;The current scholarly edition of the Septuagint, Greek Old Testament spells the word without any accents, c ...

Canaan
/
Phoenicia Phoenicia () was an ancient Semitic-speaking peoples, ancient thalassocracy, thalassocratic civilization originating in the Levant region of the eastern Mediterranean, primarily located in modern Lebanon. The territory of the Phoenician city-st ...
and ancient
Palmyra Palmyra (; Palmyrene dialect, Palmyrene: () ''Tadmor''; ar, تَدْمُر ''Tadmur'') is an ancient city in present-day Homs Governorate, Syria. Archaeological finds date back to the Neolithic period, and documents first mention the city i ...

Palmyra
. Hence, Sham refers to (''heaven'' or ''sky''). The latter term etymologically means "land of the left-hand side" or "the north", as someone in the
Hijaz The Hejaz (, also ; ar, ٱلْحِجَاز, al-Ḥijāz, lit=the Barrier, ) is a region in the west of Saudi Arabia. It includes the cities of Mecca, Medina, Jeddah, Tabuk, Saudi Arabia, Tabuk, Yanbu, Taif, and Baljurashi. It is also known as ...

Hijaz
facing east, oriented to the sunrise, will find the north to the left. This is contrasted with the name of
Yemen Yemen (; ar, ٱلْيَمَن, al-Yaman), officially the Republic of Yemen,, ) is a country in Western Asia. It is situated on the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula, and borders Saudi Arabia to the Saudi Arabia–Yemen border, north and ...

Yemen
( ), correspondingly meaning "the right-hand side" or "the south". The variation ('), of the more typical (), is also attested in
Old South Arabian Old South Arabian (or Ṣayhadic or Yemenite) is a group of four closely related extinct languages spoken in the far southern portion of the Arabian Peninsula. They were written in the Ancient South Arabian script. There were a number of o ...
, (), with the same semantic development.


Geography

Damascus was built in a strategic site on a plateau
above sea level Height above mean sea level is a measure of the Vertical position, vertical distance (height, elevation or altitude) of a location in reference to a historic mean sea level taken as a vertical datum. In geodesy, it is formalized as ''orthometric h ...
and about inland from the Mediterranean, sheltered by the
Anti-Lebanon Mountains The Anti-Lebanon Mountains ( ar, جبال لبنان الشرقية, Jibāl Lubnān ash-Sharqiyyah, Eastern Mountains of Lebanon; Lebanese Arabic: , , "Eastern Mountains") are a southwest–northeast-trending mountain range that forms most of th ...
, supplied with water by the
Barada River
Barada River
, and at a crossroads between trade routes: the north–south route connecting Egypt with
Asia Minor Anatolia (also Asia Minor), is a large peninsula in Western Asia and is the western-most extension of continental Asia. The land mass of Anatolia constitutes most of the territory of contemporary Turkey. Geographically, the Anatolian region i ...

Asia Minor
, and the east–west cross-desert route connecting
Lebanon Lebanon ( , ar, لُبْنَان, translit=lubnān, ), officially the Republic of Lebanon () or the Lebanese Republic, is a country in Western Asia. It is located between Syria to Lebanon–Syria border, the north and east and Israel to Blue ...

Lebanon
with the
Euphrates The Euphrates () is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Tigris–Euphrates river system, Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia ( ''the land between the rivers'') ...
river valley. The Anti-Lebanon Mountains mark the border between Syria and Lebanon. The range has peaks of over and blocks precipitation from the Mediterranean sea, so that the region of Damascus is sometimes subject to droughts. However, in ancient times this was mitigated by the Barada River, which originates from mountain streams fed by melting snow. Damascus is surrounded by the
Ghouta Ghouta ( ar, غُوطَةُ دِمَشْقَ / ALA-LC: ''Ḡūṭat Dimašq'') is a countryside and suburban area in southwestern Syria that surrounds the city of Damascus along its eastern and southern rim. Name Ghouta is the Arabic term (''gh ...
, irrigated farmland where many vegetables, cereals and fruits have been farmed since ancient times. Maps of Roman Syria indicate that the Barada river emptied into a lake of some size east of Damascus. Today it is called Bahira Atayba, the hesitant lake, because in years of severe drought it does not even exist. The modern city has an area of , out of which is urban, while Jabal Qasioun occupies the rest. The old city of Damascus, enclosed by the city walls, lies on the south bank of the river
Barada , name_etymology = From ''barid'', meaning 'cold' in Semitic languages The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family. They are spoken by more than 330 million people across much of West Asia, the Horn of Africa, and ...

Barada
which is almost dry ( left). To the south-east, north and north-east it is surrounded by suburban areas whose history stretches back to the Middle Ages: in the south-west, Sarouja and Imara in the north and north-west. These neighborhoods originally arose on roads leading out of the city, near the tombs of religious figures. In the 19th century outlying villages developed on the slopes of Jabal Qasioun, overlooking the city, already the site of the al-Salihiyah neighborhood centered on the important shrine of medieval Andalusian Sheikh and philosopher
Ibn Arabi Ibn ʿArabī ( ar, ابن عربي, ; full name: , ; 1165–1240), nicknamed al-Qushayrī (, ) and Sulṭān al-ʿĀrifīn (, , 'Sultan of the Knowers'), was an Arab al-Andalus, Andalusian Muslim scholar, Mysticism, mystic, poet, and philosopher ...

Ibn Arabi
. These new neighborhoods were initially settled by Kurdish soldiery and Muslim refugees from the regions of the
Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire, * ; is an archaic version. The definite article forms and were synonymous * and el, Оθωμανική Αυτοκρατορία, Othōmanikē Avtokratoria, label=none * info page on book at Martin Luther University) ...

Ottoman Empire
which had fallen under Christian rule. Thus they were known as ''al-Akrad'' ''(the Kurds)'' and ''al-Muhajirin'' ''(the migrants)''. They lay north of the old city. From the late 19th century on, a modern administrative and commercial center began to spring up to the west of the old city, around the Barada, centered on the area known as al-Marjeh or "the meadow". Al-Marjeh soon became the name of what was initially the central square of modern Damascus, with the city hall in it. The courts of justice, post office and railway station stood on higher ground slightly to the south. A Europeanized residential quarter soon began to be built on the road leading between al-Marjeh and al-Salihiyah. The commercial and administrative center of the new city gradually shifted northwards slightly towards this area. In the 20th century, newer suburbs developed north of the Barada, and to some extent to the south, invading the
Ghouta Ghouta ( ar, غُوطَةُ دِمَشْقَ / ALA-LC: ''Ḡūṭat Dimašq'') is a countryside and suburban area in southwestern Syria that surrounds the city of Damascus along its eastern and southern rim. Name Ghouta is the Arabic term (''gh ...
oasis. In 1956–1957, the new neighborhood of Yarmouk became a second home to thousands of
Palestinian Palestinians ( ar, الفلسطينيون, ; he, פָלַסְטִינִים, ) or Palestinian people ( ar, الشعب الفلسطيني, label=none, ), also referred to as Palestinian Arabs ( ar, الفلسطينيين العرب, label=non ...

Palestinian
refugees. City planners preferred to preserve the Ghouta as far as possible, and in the later 20th century some of the main areas of development were to the north, in the western Mezzeh neighborhood and most recently along the Barada valley in Dummar in the north west and on the slopes of the mountains at Barzeh in the north-east. Poorer areas, often built without official approval, have mostly developed south of the main city. Damascus used to be surrounded by an
oasis In ecology, an oasis (; ) is a fertile area of a desert or semi-desert environment'ksar''with its surrounding feeding source, the palm grove, within a relational and circulatory nomadic system.” The location of oases has been of critical im ...

oasis
, the Ghouta region ( ar, الغوطة, ''al-ġūṭä''), watered by the Barada river. The Fijeh spring, west along the Barada valley, used to provide the city with drinking water and various sources to the west are tapped by water contractors. The flow of the Barada dropped with the rapid expansion of housing and industry in the city and it is almost dry. The lower aquifers are polluted by the city's runoff from heavily used roads, industry and sewage.


Climate

Damascus has a cool arid climate (''BWk'') in the Köppen-Geiger system, due to the
rain shadow effect A rain shadow is an area of significantly reduced rainfall behind a mountainous region, on the side facing away from prevailing winds, known as its Windward and leeward#Meteorological significance, leeward side. Evaporation, Evaporated moistu ...

rain shadow effect
of the Anti-Lebanon Mountains and the prevailing ocean currents. Summers are prolonged, dry and hot with less humidity. Winters are cool and somewhat rainy; snowfall is infrequent. Autumn is brief and mild, but has the most drastic temperature change, unlike spring where the transition to summer is more gradual and steady. Annual rainfall is around , occurring from October to May.


History


Early settlement

Carbon-14 Carbon-14, C-14, or radiocarbon, is a radioactive isotope of carbon with an atomic nucleus containing 6 protons and 8 neutrons. Its presence in organic materials is the basis of the radiocarbon dating method pioneered by Willard Libby and colle ...

Carbon-14
dating at
Tell Ramad Tell Ramad ( ar, تل رماد) is a prehistoric, Neolithic Tell (archaeology), tell at the foot of Mount Hermon, about southwest of Damascus in Syria. The tell was the site of a small village of , which was first settled in the late 8th millenniu ...
, on the outskirts of Damascus, suggests that the site may have been occupied since the second half of the seventh millennium BC, possibly around 6300 BC. However, evidence of settlement in the wider Barada basin dating back to 9000 BC exists, although no large-scale settlement was present within Damascus' walls until the second millennium BC. Some of the earliest records are from the 1350 BC
Amarna letters The Amarna letters (; sometimes referred to as the Amarna correspondence or Amarna tablets, and cited with the abbreviation EA, for "El Amarna") are an archive, written on clay tablets, primarily consisting of diplomatic correspondence between t ...
, when Damascus (called ''Dimasqu'') was ruled by king Biryawaza. The Damascus region, as well as the rest of Syria, became a battleground circa 1260 BC, between the
Hittites The Hittites () were an Anatolian peoples, Anatolian people who played an important role in establishing first a kingdom in Kussara (before 1750 BC), then the Kültepe , Kanesh or Nesha kingdom (c. 1750–1650 BC), and next an empire centere ...

Hittites
from the north and the
Egyptians Egyptians ( arz, المَصرِيُون, translit=al-Maṣriyyūn, ; arz, المَصرِيِين, translit=al-Maṣriyyīn, ; cop, ⲣⲉⲙⲛ̀ⲭⲏⲙⲓ, remenkhēmi) are an ethnic group native to the Nile Valley in Egypt. Egyptian ident ...
from the south, ending with a signed treaty between Hattusili and
Ramesses II Ramesses II ( egy, wikt:rꜥ-ms-sw, rꜥ-ms-sw ''Rīʿa-məsī-sū'', , meaning "Ra is the one who bore him"; ), commonly known as Ramesses the Great, was the third pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt. Along with Thutmose III he is oft ...
where the former handed over control of the Damascus area to Ramesses II in 1259 BC. The arrival of the
Sea Peoples The Sea Peoples are a hypothesized seafaring confederation that attacked ancient Egypt and other regions in the Eastern Mediterranean, East Mediterranean prior to and during the Late Bronze Age collapse (1200–900 Common Era, BCE).. Quote: ...
, around 1200 BC, marked the end of the
Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a historic period, lasting approximately from 3300 BC to 1200 BC, characterized by the use of bronze Bronze is an alloy consisting primarily of copper, commonly with about 12–12.5% tin and often with the addition of ...
in the region and brought about new development of warfare. Damascus was only a peripheral part of this picture, which mostly affected the larger population centers of ancient Syria. However, these events contributed to the development of Damascus as a new influential center that emerged with the transition from the Bronze Age to the
Iron Age The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age division of the prehistory and protohistory of humanity. It was preceded by the Stone Age (Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic) and the Bronze Age (Chalcolithic). The concept has been mostly appl ...
. Damascus is mentioned in 14:15 as existing at the time of the War of the Kings. According to the 1st-century Jewish historian
Flavius Josephus Flavius Josephus (; grc-gre, Ἰώσηπος, ; 37 – 100) was a first-century Romano-Jewish historian A historian is a person who studies and writes about the past and is regarded as an authority on it. Historians are concerned with t ...
in his twenty-one volume ''
Antiquities of the Jews ''Antiquities of the Jews'' ( la, Antiquitates Iudaicae; el, Ἰουδαϊκὴ ἀρχαιολογία, ''Ioudaikē archaiologia'') is a 20-volume Historiography, historiographical work, written in Greek language, Greek, by historian Josephus, F ...
'', Damascus (along with
Trachonitis The Lajat (/ALA-LC: ''al-Lajāʾ''), also spelled ''Lejat'', ''Lajah'', ''el-Leja'' or ''Laja'', is the largest lava field in southern Syria, spanning some 900 square kilometers. Located about southeast of Damascus, the Lajat borders the Hauran ...

Trachonitis
), was founded by Uz, the son of Aram. In Antiquities i. 7, Josephus reports:
Nicolaus of Damascus Nicolaus of Damascus (Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece, a country in Southern Europe: *Greeks, an ethnic group. *Greek language, a branch of the Indo-European language family. **Proto-Greek language, the ...
, in the fourth book of his History, says thus: "
Abraham Abraham, ; ar, , , name=, group= (originally Abram) is the common Hebrews, Hebrew patriarch of the Abrahamic religions, including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In Judaism, he is the founding father of the Covenant (biblical), special ...
reigned at Damascus, being a foreigner, who came with an army out of the land above
Babylon ''Bābili(m)'' * sux, 𒆍𒀭𒊏𒆠 * arc, 𐡁𐡁𐡋 ''Bāḇel'' * syc, ܒܒܠ ''Bāḇel'' * grc-gre, Βαβυλών ''Babylṓn'' * he, בָּבֶל ''Bāvel'' * peo, 𐎲𐎠𐎲𐎡𐎽𐎢 ''Bābiru'' * elx, 𒀸𒁀𒉿𒇷 ''Babi ...
, called the land of the Chaldeans: but, after a long time, he got him up, and removed from that country also, with his people, and went into the land then called the land of
Canaan Canaan (; Phoenician language, Phoenician: 𐤊𐤍𐤏𐤍 – ; he, כְּנַעַן – , in pausa – ; grc-bib, Χανααν – ;The current scholarly edition of the Septuagint, Greek Old Testament spells the word without any accents, c ...

Canaan
, but now the land of Judea, and this when his posterity were become a multitude; as to which posterity of his, we relate their history in another work. Now the name of Abraham is even still famous in the country of Damascus; and there is shown a village named from him, The Habitation of Abraham.


Aram-Damascus

Damascus is first documented as an important city during the arrival of the
Aramaeans The Arameans ( oar, 𐤀𐤓𐤌𐤉𐤀; arc, 𐡀𐡓𐡌𐡉𐡀; syc, ܐܪ̈ܡܝܐ, Ārāmāyē) were an ancient Semitic-speaking people in the Near East The ''Near East''; he, המזרח הקרוב; arc, ܕܢܚܐ ܩܪܒ; fa, خاو ...
, a
Semitic people Semites, Semitic peoples or Semitic cultures is an obsolete term for an ethnic, cultural or racial group.Aram-Damascus The Kingdom of Aram-Damascus () was an Aramean The Arameans ( oar, 𐤀𐤓𐤌𐤉𐤀; arc, 𐡀𐡓𐡌𐡉𐡀; syc, ܐܪ̈ܡܝܐ, Ārāmāyē) were an ancient Semitic languages, Semitic-speaking people in the Near East, first recorde ...
, centered on its capital Damascus. The Aramaeans who entered the city without battle, adopted the name "Dimashqu" for their new home. Noticing the agricultural potential of the still-undeveloped and sparsely populated area, they established the water distribution system of Damascus by constructing canals and tunnels which maximized the efficiency of the river Barada. The same network was later improved by the Romans and the Umayyads, and still forms the basis of the water system of the old part of the city today. The Aramaeans initially turned Damascus into an outpost of a loose federation of Aramaean tribes, known as
Aram-Zobah Zobah or Aram-Zobah ( ʾ''Ărām-Ṣōḇāʾ'') was an early Aramean state mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, which extended north-east of biblical King David's realm. Alexander Kirkpatrick, A. F. Kirkpatrick, in the Cambridge Bible for Schools an ...
, based in the
Beqaa Valley The Beqaa Valley ( ar, links=no, وادي البقاع, ', Lebanese Arabic, Lebanese ), also Romanization of Arabic, transliterated as Bekaa, Biqâ, and Becaa and known in classical antiquity as Coele-Syria, is a fertile valley in eastern L ...
. The city would gain pre-eminence in southern Syria when Ezron, the claimant to Aram-Zobah's throne who was denied kingship of the federation, fled Beqaa and captured Damascus by force in 965 BC. Ezron overthrew the city's tribal governor and founded the independent entity of Aram-Damascus. As this new state expanded south, it prevented the Kingdom of Israel from spreading north and the two kingdoms soon clashed as they both sought to dominate trading hegemony in the east. Under Ezron's grandson, Ben-Hadad I (880–841 BC), and his successor
Hazael Hazael (; he, חֲזָאֵל, translit=Ḥazaʾēl, or , romanized as: ; oar, 𐡇𐡆𐡀𐡋, translit= , from the triliteral Semitic root ''h-z-y'', "to see"; his full name meaning, "El (deity), El/God has seen"; akk, 𒄩𒍝𒀪𒀭, Ḫa ...
, Damascus annexed
Bashan Bashan (; he, הַבָּשָׁן, translit=ha-Bashan; la, Basan or ''Basanitis'') is the ancient, Hebrew Bible, biblical name used for the northernmost region of the Transjordan in the Bible, Transjordan during the Iron Age. It is situated in ...
(modern-day
Hauran The Hauran ( ar, حَوْرَان, ''Ḥawrān''; also spelled ''Hawran'' or ''Houran'') is a region that spans parts of southern Syria and northern Jordan. It is bound in the north by the Ghouta oasis, eastwards by the al-Safa (Syria), al-Safa ...
region), and went on the offensive with Israel. This conflict continued until the early 8th century BC when Ben-Hadad II was captured by Israel after unsuccessfully besieging
Samaria Samaria (; he, שֹׁמְרוֹן, translit=Šōmrōn, ar, السامرة, translit=as-Sāmirah) is the historic and Hebrew Bible, biblical name used for the central region of Palestine (region), Palestine, bordered by Judea to the south and ...
. As a result, he granted Israel trading rights in Damascus. Another possible reason for the treaty between Aram-Damascus and Israel was the common threat of the
Neo-Assyrian Empire The Neo-Assyrian Empire was the fourth and penultimate stage of ancient Assyrian history and the final and greatest phase of Assyria as an independent state. Beginning with the accession of Adad-nirari II in 911 BC, the Neo-Assyrian Empire grew t ...
which was attempting to expand into the Mediterranean coast. In 853 BC, King
Hadadezer Hadadezer (; " he godHadad Hadad ( uga, ), Haddad, Adad (Akkadian language, Akkadian: Wiktionary:𒀭𒅎, 𒀭𒅎 ''DINGIR, DIM'', pronounced as ''Adād''), or Iškur (Sumerian language, Sumerian) was the Weather god, storm and rain god ...
of Damascus led a
Levant The Levant () is an approximation, approximate historical geography, historical geographical term referring to a large area in the Eastern Mediterranean region of Western Asia. In its narrowest sense, which is in use today in archaeology an ...

Levant
ine coalition, that included forces from the northern Aram-Hamath kingdom and troops supplied by King Ahab of Israel, in the
Battle of Qarqar The Battle of Qarqar (or Ḳarḳar) was fought in 853 BC when the army of the Neo-Assyrian Empire led by Emperor Shalmaneser III encountered an allied army of eleven kings at Qarqar led by Hadadezer, called in Assyrian ''Adad-idir'' and possibly ...
against the Neo-Assyrian army. Aram-Damascus came out victorious, temporarily preventing the Assyrians from encroaching into Syria. However, after Hadadzezer was killed by his successor, Hazael, the Levantine alliance collapsed. Aram-Damascus attempted to invade Israel, but was interrupted by the renewed Assyrian invasion. Hazael ordered a retreat to the walled part of Damascus while the Assyrians plundered the remainder of the kingdom. Unable to enter the city, they declared their supremacy in the Hauran and Beqa'a valleys. By the 8th century BC, Damascus was practically engulfed by the Assyrians and entered a Dark Age. Nonetheless, it remained the economic and cultural center of the Near East as well as the Arameaen resistance. In 727, a revolt took place in the city, but was put down by Assyrian forces. After Assyria led by
Tiglath-Pileser III Tiglath-Pileser III (Neo-Assyrian cuneiform: , meaning "my trust belongs to the son of Ešarra"), was the king of the Neo-Assyrian Empire from 745 BC to his death in 727. One of the most prominent and historically significant Assyrian kings, Tig ...
went on a wide-scale campaign of quelling revolts throughout Syria, Damascus became totally subjugated by their rule. A positive effect of this was stability for the city and benefits from the spice and incense trade with
Arabia The Arabian Peninsula, (; ar, شِبْهُ الْجَزِيرَةِ الْعَرَبِيَّة, , "Arabian Peninsula" or , , "Island of the Arabs") or Arabia, is a peninsula of Western Asia, situated northeast of Africa on the Arabian Plate. ...
. In 694 BC, the town was called ''Šaʾimerišu'' (Akkadian: 𒐼𒄿𒈨𒊑𒋙𒌋) and its governor was named ''Ilu-issīya''. However, Assyrian authority was dwindling by 609–605 BC, and Syria-Palestine was falling into the orbit of Pharaoh
Necho II Necho II (sometimes Nekau, Neku, Nechoh, or Nikuu; Greek: Νεκώς Β'; ) of Egypt Egypt ( ar, مصر , ), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country spanning the North Africa, ...
's Egypt. In 572 BC, all of Syria had been conquered by
Nebuchadnezzar II Nebuchadnezzar II (Babylonian cuneiform: ''Nabû-kudurri-uṣur'', meaning "Nabu, watch over my heir"; Biblical Hebrew: ''Nəḇūḵaḏneʾṣṣar''), also spelled Nebuchadrezzar II, was the second king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, ruling ...
of the
Neo-Babylonian The Neo-Babylonian Empire or Second Babylonian Empire, historically known as the Chaldean Empire, was the last polity ruled by monarchs native to Mesopotamia. Beginning with the coronation of Nabopolassar as the List of kings of Babylon, King of B ...
s, but the status of Damascus under
Babylon ''Bābili(m)'' * sux, 𒆍𒀭𒊏𒆠 * arc, 𐡁𐡁𐡋 ''Bāḇel'' * syc, ܒܒܠ ''Bāḇel'' * grc-gre, Βαβυλών ''Babylṓn'' * he, בָּבֶל ''Bāvel'' * peo, 𐎲𐎠𐎲𐎡𐎽𐎢 ''Bābiru'' * elx, 𒀸𒁀𒉿𒇷 ''Babi ...
is relatively unknown.


Greco-Roman period

Damascus was conquered by
Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc, wikt:Ἀλέξανδρος, Ἀλέξανδρος, Alexandros; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king of the Ancient Greece, ancient Greek kingdom of Maced ...
. After the death of Alexander in 323 BC, Damascus became the site of a struggle between the
Seleucid The Seleucid Empire (; grc, Βασιλεία τῶν Σελευκιδῶν, ''Basileía tōn Seleukidōn'') was a Ancient Greece, Greek state in West Asia that existed during the Hellenistic period from 312 BC to 63 BC. The Seleucid Empire was ...
and Ptolemaic empires. The control of the city passed frequently from one empire to the other.
Seleucus I Nicator Seleucus I Nicator (; ; grc-gre, Σέλευκος Νικάτωρ , ) was a Ancient Macedonians, Macedonian Greek general who was an officer and successor (Diadochi, ''diadochus'') of Alexander the Great. Seleucus was the founder of the eponymou ...
, one of Alexander's generals, made
Antioch Antioch on the Orontes (; grc-gre, Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐπὶ Ὀρόντου, ''Antiókheia hē epì Oróntou'', Koine Greek phonology#Learned pronunciation, 4th century BC until early Roman period, Learned ; also Syrian Antioch) grc-koi ...
the capital of his vast empire, which led to the decline of Damascus' importance compared with new Seleucid cities such as
Latakia Latakia or Lattakia ( ar, ٱللَّاذْقِيَّة/ ٱللَّاذِقِيَّة, '; Syrian Arabic, Syrian pronunciation: ) is the principal port city of Syria and capital city of the Latakia Governorate located on the Mediterranean coast. Hi ...
in the north. Later, Demetrius III Philopator rebuilt the city according to the Greek hippodamian system and renamed it "Demetrias". In 64 BC, the
Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *Roman people, the people of ancient Rome *''Epistle to the Romans'', shortened to ''Romans'', a letter ...
general
Pompey Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (; 29 September 106 BC – 28 September 48 BC), known in English as Pompey or Pompey the Great, was a leading Roman Republic, Roman general and statesman. He played a significant role in the tr ...
annexed the western part of Syria. The Romans occupied Damascus and subsequently incorporated it into the league of ten cities known as the Decapolis which themselves were incorporated into the province of Syria and granted autonomy. The city of Damascus was entirely redesigned by the Romans after
Pompey Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (; 29 September 106 BC – 28 September 48 BC), known in English as Pompey or Pompey the Great, was a leading Roman Republic, Roman general and statesman. He played a significant role in the tr ...
conquered the region. Still today the Old Town of Damascus retains the rectangular shape of the Roman city, with its two main axes: the Decumanus Maximus (east-west; known today as the ''Via Recta'') and the Cardo (north-south), the Decumanus being about twice as long. The Romans built a monumental gate which still survives at the eastern end of Decumanus Maximus. The gate originally had three arches: the central arch was for chariots while the side arches were for pedestrians.romeartlover
"Damascus: the ancient town"
In 23 BC,
Herod the Great Herod I (; ; grc-gre, ; c. 72 – 4 or 1 BCE), also known as Herod the Great, was a History of the Jews in the Roman Empire, Roman Jewish client state, client king of Judea, referred to as the Herodian Kingdom of Judea, Herodian kingdom. He ...
was given lands controlled by Zenodorus by
Caesar Augustus Caesar Augustus (born Gaius Octavius; 23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14), also known as Octavian, was the first Roman emperor; he reigned from 27 BC until his death in AD 14. He is known for being the founder of the Roman Pr ...
and some scholars believe that Herod was also granted control of Damascus as well. The control of Damascus reverted to Syria either upon the death of Herod the Great or was part of the lands given to Herod Philip which were given to Syria with his death in 33/34 AD. It is speculated that control of Damascus was gained by
Aretas IV Philopatris Aretas IV Philopatris (Nabataean Aramaic: 𐢗𐢓𐢆‎ 𐢊𐢛𐢞𐢞 𐢛𐢊𐢒 ''Ḥārīṯat Rāḥem-ʿammeh'', "Aretas, friend of his people") was the King of the Nabataeans from roughly 9 BC to AD 40. His daughter Phasa'el, Phasae ...
of
Nabatea The Nabataean Kingdom (Nabataean Aramaic: 𐢕𐢃𐢋𐢈 ''Nabāṭū''), also named Nabatea (), was a political state of the Arabs, Arab Nabataeans during classical antiquity. The Nabataean Kingdom controlled many of the trade routes of the r ...
between the death of Herod Philip in 33/34 AD and the death of Aretas in 40 AD but there is substantial evidence against Aretas controlling the city before 37 AD and many reasons why it could not have been a gift from
Caligula Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (31 August 12 – 24 January 41), better known by his nickname Caligula (), was the third Roman emperor, ruling from 37 until his assassination in 41. He was the son of the popular Roman general Germanicu ...
between 37 and 40 AD. In fact, all these theories stem not from any actual evidence outside the New Testament but rather "a certain understanding of 2 Corinthians 11:32" and in reality "neither from archaeological evidence, secular-historical sources, nor New Testament texts can Nabatean sovereignty over Damascus in the first century AD be proven." Roman emperor
Trajan Trajan ( ; la, Caesar Nerva Traianus; 18 September 539/11 August 117) was Roman emperor from 98 to 117. Officially declared ''optimus princeps'' ("best ruler") by the Roman Senate, senate, Trajan is remembered as a successful soldier-emper ...
who annexed the Nabataean Kingdom, creating the province of
Arabia Petraea Arabia Petraea or Petrea, also known as Rome's Arabian Province ( la, Provincia Arabia; ar, العربية البترائية; grc, Ἐπαρχία Πετραίας Ἀραβίας) or simply Arabia, was a frontier Roman province, province o ...
, had previously been in Damascus, as his father Marcus Ulpius Traianus served as governor of Syria from 73 to 74 AD, where he met the Nabatean architect and engineer,
Apollodorus of Damascus Apollodorus of Damascus ( grc, Ἀπολλόδωρος ὁ Δαμασκηνός) was a Nabataean architect and engineer from Damascus, Syria (Roman province), Roman Syria, who flourished during the 2nd century AD. As an engineer he authored sever ...
, who joined him in
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus (Romulus and Remus, legendary) , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg ...
when he was a
consul Consul (abbrev. ''cos.''; Latin plural ''consules'') was the title of one of the two chief Roman magistrate, magistrates of the Roman Republic, and subsequently also an important title under the Roman Empire. The title was used in other European ...
in 91 AD, and later built several monuments during the 2nd century AD. Damascus became a metropolis by the beginning of the 2nd century and in 222 it was upgraded to a ''colonia'' by the Emperor
Septimius Severus Lucius Septimius Severus (; 11 April 145 – 4 February 211) was Roman emperor from 193 to 211. He was born in Leptis Magna (present-day Al-Khums, Libya) in the Roman province of Africa (Roman province), Africa. As a young man he advanced thro ...
. During the ''
Pax Romana The Pax Romana (Latin for 'Roman peace') is a roughly 200-year-long timespan of Roman history which is periodization, identified as a period and as a golden age (metaphor), golden age of increased as well as sustained Imperial cult of ancient Rome ...
'', Damascus and the Roman province of Syria in general began to prosper. Damascus's importance as a
caravan city A caravan city is a city located on and deriving its prosperity from its location on a major trans-desert trade route. The term is believed to have been coined by the great scholar of antiquity, Michael Rostovtzeff, for his work ''O Blijnem Vosto ...
was evident with the trade routes from southern
Arabia The Arabian Peninsula, (; ar, شِبْهُ الْجَزِيرَةِ الْعَرَبِيَّة, , "Arabian Peninsula" or , , "Island of the Arabs") or Arabia, is a peninsula of Western Asia, situated northeast of Africa on the Arabian Plate. ...
,
Palmyra Palmyra (; Palmyrene dialect, Palmyrene: () ''Tadmor''; ar, تَدْمُر ''Tadmur'') is an ancient city in present-day Homs Governorate, Syria. Archaeological finds date back to the Neolithic period, and documents first mention the city i ...

Palmyra
,
Petra Petra ( ar, ٱلْبَتْرَاء, Al-Batrāʾ; grc, Πέτρα, "Rock", Nabataean Aramaic, Nabataean: ), originally known to its inhabitants as Raqmu or Raqēmō, is an historic and archaeological city in southern Jordan. It is adjacent to t ...
, and the silk routes from China all converging on it. The city satisfied the Roman demands for eastern luxuries. Circa 125 AD the Roman emperor
Hadrian Hadrian (; la, Caesar Trâiānus Hadriānus ; 24 January 76 – 10 July 138) was Roman emperor from 117 to 138. He was born in Italica (close to modern Santiponce in Spain), a Roman ''municipium'' founded by Italic peoples, Italic settlers ...
promoted the city of Damascus to "Metropolis of
Coele-Syria Coele-Syria (, also spelt Coele Syria, Coelesyria, Celesyria) alternatively Coelo-Syria or Coelosyria (; grc-gre, Κοίλη Συρία, ''Koílē Syría'', 'Hollow Syria'; lat, Cœlē Syria or ), was a region of Syria Syria ( ar ...
". Little remains of the architecture of the Romans, but the town planning of the old city did have a lasting effect. The Roman architects brought together the Greek and Aramaean foundations of the city and fused them into a new layout measuring approximately , surrounded by a city wall. The city wall contained seven gates, but only the eastern gate,
Bab Sharqi Bab Sharqi ( ar, بَابٌ شَرْقِيٌّ, Bāb Šarqī; "The Eastern Gate"), also known as the Gate of the Sun, is one of the seven ancient city gate A city gate is a gate which is, or was, set within a city wall. It is a type of fortifi ...
, remains from the Roman period. Roman Damascus lies mostly at depths of up to below the modern city. The old borough of Bab Tuma was developed at the end of the Roman/Byzantine era by the local
Eastern Orthodox Eastern Orthodoxy, also known as Eastern Orthodox Christianity, is one of the three main branches of Chalcedonian Christianity, alongside Catholicism and Protestantism. Like the Pentarchy of the first millennium, the mainstream (or " canonica ...
community. According to the
Acts of the Apostles The Acts of the Apostles ( grc-koi, Πράξεις Ἀποστόλων, ''Práxeis Apostólōn''; la, Actūs Apostolōrum) is the fifth book of the New Testament; it tells of the founding of the Christian Church and the spread of The gospel, ...
, Saint Paul and Saint Thomas both lived in that neighborhood. Roman Catholic historians also consider Bab Tuma to be the birthplace of several
Popes The pope ( la, papa, from el, πάππας, translit=pappas, 'father'), also known as supreme pontiff ( or ), Roman pontiff () or sovereign pontiff, is the bishop of Rome (or historically the patriarch of Rome), head of the worldwide Cathol ...
such as
John V John V may refer to: * Patriarch John V of Alexandria or John the Merciful (died by 620), Patriarch of Alexandria from 606 to 616 * John V of Constantinople, Patriarch from 669 to 675 * Pope John V (685–686), Pope from 685 to his death in 686 * J ...
and Gregory III. Accordingly, there was a community of
Jewish Christians Jewish Christians ( he, יהודים נוצרים, yehudim notzrim) were the followers of a Jewish religious movements, Jewish religious sect that emerged in Roman Judea, Judea during the late Second Temple period (first century AD). The #Nazare ...
who converted to Christianity with the advent of Saint Paul's proselytisation. During the
Byzantine–Sasanian War of 602–628 The Byzantine–Sasanian War of 602–628 was the final and most devastating of the Byzantine–Sasanian wars, series of wars fought between the Byzantine Empire, Byzantine / Roman Empire and the Sasanian Empire of Iran. The Byzantine–Sasani ...
, the city was besieged and captured by
Shahrbaraz Shahrbaraz (also spelled Shahrvaraz or Shahrwaraz; New Persian New Persian ( fa, فارسی نو), also known as Modern Persian () and Dari (), is the current stage of the Persian language spoken since the 8th to 9th centuries until now in G ...
in 613, along with a large number of Byzantine troops as prisoners, and was in Sasanian hands until near the end of the war.


Rashidun period

Muhammad's first indirect interaction with the people of Damascus was when he sent a letter, through his companion Shiya ibn Wahab, to Harith ibn Abi Shamir, the king of Damascus. In his letter, Muhammad stated: "Peace be upon him who follows true guidance. Be informed that my religion shall prevail everywhere. You should accept Islam, and whatever under your command shall remain yours."Akbar Shāh Ḵẖān Najībābādī
History of Islam, Volume 1
, p. 194. Quote: "Again, the Holy Prophet "P sent Dihyah bin Khalifa Kalbi to the Byzantine king Heraclius, Hatib bin Abi Baltaeh to the king of Egypt and Alexandria; Allabn Al-Hazermi to Munzer bin Sawa the king of Bahrain; Amer bin Aas to the king of Oman. Salit bin Amri to Hozah bin Ali— the king of Yamama; Shiya bin Wahab to Haris bin Ghasanni to the king of Damascus"
After most of the Syrian countryside was conquered by the
Rashidun Caliphate The Rashidun Caliphate ( ar, اَلْخِلَافَةُ ٱلرَّاشِدَةُ, al-Khilāfah ar-Rāšidah) was the first caliphate A caliphate or khilāfah ( ar, خِلَافَة, ) is an institution or public office under the leadersh ...
during the reign of Caliph
Umar ʿUmar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb ( ar, عمر بن الخطاب, also spelled Omar, ) was the second Rashidun, Rashidun caliph, ruling from August 634 until his assassination in 644. He succeeded Abu Bakr () as the second caliph of the Rashidun C ...
(), Damascus itself was conquered by the Arab Muslim general
Khalid ibn al-Walid Khalid ibn al-Walid ibn al-Mughira al-Makhzumi (; died 642) was a 7th-century Arabs, Arab military commander. He initially headed campaigns against Muhammad on behalf of the Quraysh. He later became a Muslims, Muslim and spent the remainder o ...
in August-September 634 CE. His
army An army (from Old French ''armee'', itself derived from the Latin verb ''armāre'', meaning "to arm", and related to the Latin noun ''arma'', meaning "arms" or "weapons"), ground force or land force is a fighting force that fights primarily on ...
had previously attempted to capture the city in April 634, but without success. With Damascus now in Muslim-Arab hands, the Byzantines, alarmed at the loss of their most prestigious city in the Near East, had decided to wrest back control of it. Under Emperor
Heraclius Heraclius ( grc-gre, Ἡράκλειος, Hērákleios; c. 575 – 11 February 641), was List of Byzantine emperors, Eastern Roman emperor from 610 to 641. His rise to power began in 608, when he and his father, Heraclius the Elder, the Exa ...
, the Byzantines fielded an army superior to that of the Rashidun in manpower. They advanced into southern Syria during the spring of 636 and consequently Khalid ibn al-Walid's forces withdrew from Damascus to prepare for renewed confrontation. In August, the two sides met along the
Yarmouk River The Yarmuk River ( ar, نهر اليرموك, translit=Nahr al-Yarmūk, ; Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece, a country in Southern Europe: *Greeks, an ethnic group. *Greek language, a branch of the Indo-E ...
where they fought a major battle which ended in a decisive Muslim victory, solidifying Muslim rule in Syria and Palestine. While the Muslims administered the city, the population of Damascus remained mostly Christian—
Eastern Orthodox Eastern Orthodoxy, also known as Eastern Orthodox Christianity, is one of the three main branches of Chalcedonian Christianity, alongside Catholicism and Protestantism. Like the Pentarchy of the first millennium, the mainstream (or " canonica ...
and
Monophysite Monophysitism ( or ) or monophysism () is a Christological term derived from the Greek (, "alone, solitary") and (, a word that has many meanings but in this context means " nature"). It is defined as "a doctrine that in the person of the inc ...
—with a growing community of
Muslims Muslims ( ar, المسلمون, , ) are people who adhere to Islam Islam (; ar, ۘالِإسلَام, , ) is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion centred primarily around the Quran, a religious text considered by Muslims to be the ...
from
Mecca Mecca (; officially Makkah al-Mukarramah, commonly shortened to Makkah ()) is a city and administrative center of the Mecca Province of Saudi Arabia, and the Holiest sites in Islam, holiest city in Islam. It is inland from Jeddah on the Red ...
,
Medina Medina,, ', "the radiant city"; or , ', (), "the city" officially Al Madinah Al Munawwarah (, , Turkish: Medine-i Münevvere) and also commonly simplified as Madīnah or Madinah (, ), is the second-holiest city in Islam Islam (; ar, ...
, and the
Syrian Desert The Syrian Desert ( ar, بادية الشام ''Bādiyat Ash-Shām''), also known as the North Arabian Desert, the Jordanian steppe, or the Badiya, is a region of desert, semi-desert and steppe covering of the Middle East, including parts of ...
. The governor assigned to the city which had been chosen as the capital of Islamic Syria was
Mu'awiya I Mu'awiya I ( ar, معاوية بن أبي سفيان, Muʿāwiya ibn Abī Sufyān; –April 680) was the founder and first caliph of the Umayyad Caliphate, ruling from 661 until his death. He became caliph less than thirty years after the deat ...
.


Umayyad and Abbasid periods

Following the fourth Rashidun caliph Ali's death in 661, Mu'awiya was chosen as the caliph of the expanding Islamic empire. Because of the vast amounts of assets his clan, the
Umayyad The Umayyad Caliphate (661–750 CE; , ; ar, ٱلْخِلَافَة ٱلْأُمَوِيَّة, al-Khilāfah al-ʾUmawīyah) was the second of the four major caliphate A caliphate or khilāfah ( ar, خِلَافَة, ) is an institut ...
s, owned in the city and because of its traditional economic and social links with the
Hijaz The Hejaz (, also ; ar, ٱلْحِجَاز, al-Ḥijāz, lit=the Barrier, ) is a region in the west of Saudi Arabia. It includes the cities of Mecca, Medina, Jeddah, Tabuk, Saudi Arabia, Tabuk, Yanbu, Taif, and Baljurashi. It is also known as ...

Hijaz
as well as the
Christian Arab Arab Christians ( ar, ﺍَﻟْﻤَﺴِﻴﺤِﻴُّﻮﻥ ﺍﻟْﻌَﺮَﺏ, translit=al-Masīḥīyyūn al-ʿArab) are ethnic Arabs, Arab nationals, or Arabic language, Arabic-speakers who adhere to Christianity. The number of Arab ...
tribes of the region, Mu'awiya established Damascus as the capital of the entire
Caliphate A caliphate or khilāfah ( ar, خِلَافَة, ) is an institution or public office under the leadership of an Islamic steward with the title of caliph (; ar, خَلِيفَة , ), a person considered a political-religious successor to th ...
. With the ascension of Caliph
Abd al-Malik Abdul Malik ( ar, عبد الملك) is an Arabic (Muslim or Christian) male given name and, in modern usage, surname. It is built from the Arabic words '' Abd'', '' al-'' and ''Malik Malik, Mallik, Melik, Malka, Malek, Maleek, Malick, Malli ...
in 685, an Islamic coinage system was introduced and all of the surplus revenue of the Caliphate's provinces were forwarded to the treasury of Damascus.
Arabic Arabic (, ' ; , ' or ) is a Semitic languages, Semitic language spoken primarily across the Arab world.Semitic languages: an international handbook / edited by Stefan Weninger; in collaboration with Geoffrey Khan, Michael P. Streck, Janet C ...

Arabic
was also established as the official language, giving the Muslim minority of the city an advantage over the Aramaic-speaking Christians in administrative affairs.
Abd al-Malik Abdul Malik ( ar, عبد الملك) is an Arabic (Muslim or Christian) male given name and, in modern usage, surname. It is built from the Arabic words '' Abd'', '' al-'' and ''Malik Malik, Mallik, Melik, Malka, Malek, Maleek, Malick, Malli ...
's successor, al-Walid initiated construction of the Grand Mosque of Damascus (known as the Umayyad Mosque) in 706. The site originally had been the Christian Cathedral of St. John and the Muslims maintained the building's dedication to
John the Baptist John the Baptist or , , or , ;Wetterau, Bruce. ''World history''. New York: Henry Holt and Company. 1994. syc, ܝܘܿܚܲܢܵܢ ܡܲܥܡܕ݂ܵܢܵܐ, Yoḥanān Maʿmḏānā; he, יוחנן המטביל, Yohanān HaMatbil; la, Ioannes Bapti ...
. By 715, the mosque was complete. Al-Walid died that same year and he was succeeded at first by Suleiman ibn Abd al-Malik and then by
Umar II Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz ( ar, عمر بن عبد العزيز, ʿUmar ibn ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz; 2 November 680 – ), commonly known as Umar II (), was the eighth Umayyad The Umayyad Caliphate (661–750 CE; , ; ar, ٱلْخِلَافَة ٱل ...
, who each ruled for brief periods before the reign of
Hisham Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik ( ar, هشام بن عبد الملك, Hishām ibn ʿAbd al-Malik; 691 – 6 February 743) was the tenth Umayyad caliph, ruling from 724 until his death in 743. Early life Hisham was born in Damascus, the administrat ...
in 724. With these successions, the status of Damascus was gradually weakening as Suleiman had chosen
Ramla Ramla or Ramle ( he, רַמְלָה, ''Ramlā''; ar, الرملة, ''ar-Ramleh'') is a city in the Central District (Israel), Central District of Israel. Today, Ramle is one of Israel's mixed cities, with both a significant Jewish and Arab po ...
as his residence and later Hisham chose
Resafa Resafa ( ar, الرصافة Reṣafa), also sometimes spelled Rusafa, and known in the Byzantine Empire, Byzantine era as Sergiopolis (in Greek language, greek Σεργιούπολις, Σεργιόπολις, "city of Saint Sergius") and briefly ...
. Following the murder of the latter in 743, the Caliphate of the Umayyads—which by then stretched from Spain to India— was crumbling as a result of widespread revolts. During the reign of
Marwan II Marwan ibn Muhammad ibn Marwan ibn al-Hakam ( ar, مروان بن محمد بن مروان بن الحكم, Marwān ibn Muḥammad ibn Marwān ibn al-Ḥakam; – 6 August 750), commonly known as Marwan II, was the fourteenth and last caliph of ...
in 744, the capital of the empire was relocated to
Harran Harran (), historically known as Carrhae ( el, Kάρραι, Kárrhai), is a rural town and district of the Şanlıurfa Province in southeastern Turkey, approximately 40 kilometres (25 miles) southeast of Urfa and 20 kilometers from the border cr ...
in the northern
Jazira Jazira or Al-Jazira ( 'island'), or variants, may refer to: Business *Jazeera Airways, an airlines company based in Kuwait Locations * Al-Jazira, a traditional region known today as Upper Mesopotamia or the smaller region of Cizre * Al-Jazira (c ...
region. On 25 August 750, the
Abbasid The Abbasid Caliphate ( or ; ar, الْخِلَافَةُ الْعَبَّاسِيَّة, ') was the third caliphate to succeed the Islamic prophet Muhammad. It was founded by a dynasty descended from Muhammad's uncle, Abbas ibn Abdul-Muttalib ...
s, having already beaten the Umayyads in the
Battle of the Zab The Battle of the Zab ( ar, معركة الزاب), also referred to in scholarly contexts as Battle of the Great Zāb River, took place on January 25, 750, on the banks of the Great Zab The Great Zab or Upper Zab ( (''al-Zāb al-Kabīr''), ...
in Iraq, conquered Damascus after facing little resistance. With the heralding of the Abbasid Caliphate, Damascus became eclipsed and subordinated by
Baghdad Baghdad (; ar, بَغْدَاد , ) is the capital of Iraq and the list of largest cities in the Arab world, second-largest city in the Arab world after Cairo. It is located on the Tigris near the ruins of the ancient city of Babylon and the ...

Baghdad
, the new Islamic capital. Within the first six months of Abbasid rule, revolts began erupting in the city, albeit too isolated and unfocused to present a viable threat. Nonetheless, the last of the prominent Umayyads were executed, the traditional officials of Damascus ostracised, and army generals from the city were dismissed. Afterwards, the Umayyad family cemetery was desecrated and the city walls were torn down, reducing Damascus into a provincial town of little importance. It roughly disappeared from written records for the next century and the only significant improvement of the city was the Abbasid-built treasury dome in the Umayyad Mosque in 789. In 811, distant remnants of the Umayyad dynasty staged a strong uprising in Damascus that was eventually put down.
Ahmad ibn Tulun Ahmad ibn Tulun ( ar, أحمد بن طولون, translit=Aḥmad ibn Ṭūlūn; c. 20 September 835 – 10 May 884) was the founder of the Tulunid dynasty that ruled Egypt in the Middle Ages, Egypt and Bilad al-Sham, Syria between 868 and 905. Ori ...
, a dissenting Turkish governor appointed by the Abbasids, conquered Syria, including Damascus, from his overlords in 878–79. In an act of respect for the previous Umayyad rulers, he erected a shrine on the site of Mu'awiya's grave in the city. Tulunid rule of Damascus was brief, lasting only until 906 before being replaced by the
Qarmatians The Qarmatians ( ar, قرامطة, Qarāmiṭa; ) were a militant Isma'ili Shia movement centred in al-Hasa in Eastern Arabia, where they established a religious-utopian socialist state in 899 CE. Its members were part of a movement tha ...
who were adherents of
Shia Islam Shīʿa Islam or Shīʿīsm is the second-largest Islamic schools and branches, branch of Islam. It holds that the Prophets and messengers in Islam, Islamic prophet Muhammad in Islam, Muhammad designated Ali, ʿAlī ibn Abī Ṭālib as his S ...
. Due to their inability to control the vast amount of land they occupied, the Qarmatians withdrew from Damascus and a new dynasty, the
Ikhshidid The Ikhshidid dynasty (, ) was a Turkic mamluk Mamluk ( ar, مملوك, mamlūk (singular), , ''mamālīk'' (plural), translated as "one who is owned", meaning "History of slavery in the Muslim world, slave", also Arabic transliteration, tra ...
s, took control of the city. They maintained the independence of Damascus from the Arab
Hamdanid The Hamdanid dynasty ( ar, الحمدانيون, al-Ḥamdāniyyūn) was a Twelver Shia Arabs , Arab dynasty of Northern Mesopotamia and Bilad al-Sham , Syria (890–1004). They descended from the ancient Banu Taghlib Christian tribe of Mes ...
dynasty of
Aleppo )), is an adjective which means "white-colored mixed with black". , motto = , image_map = , mapsize = , map_caption = , image_map1 = ...
and the
Baghdad Baghdad (; ar, بَغْدَاد , ) is the capital of Iraq and the list of largest cities in the Arab world, second-largest city in the Arab world after Cairo. It is located on the Tigris near the ruins of the ancient city of Babylon and the ...

Baghdad
-based Abbasids until 967. A period of instability in the city followed, with a Qarmatian raid in 968, a Byzantine raid in 970, and increasing pressures from the
Fatimid The Fatimid Caliphate was an Isma'ilism, Ismaili Shia Islam, Shi'a caliphate extant from the tenth to the twelfth centuries AD. Spanning a large area of North Africa, it ranged from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Red Sea in the ea ...
s in the south and the Hamdanids in the north. The Shia Fatimids gained control in 970, inflaming hostilities between them and the Sunni Arabs of the city who frequently revolted. A Turk,
Alptakin Alptakin (also known as Aftakin) was a Turkish military officer of the Buyids, who participated, and eventually came to lead, an unsuccessful rebellion against them in Iraq from 973 to 975. Fleeing west with 300 followers, he exploited the powe ...
drove out the Fatimids five years later, and through diplomacy, prevented the Byzantines during the
Syrian campaigns of John Tzimiskes The Syrian campaigns of John Tzimiskes were a series of campaigns undertaken by the Byzantine The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinc ...
from attempting to annex the city. However, by 977, the Fatimids under Caliph
al-Aziz Abu Mansur Nizar ( ar, أبو منصور نزار , Abū Manṣūr Nizār; 10 May 955 – 14 October 996), known by his regnal name A regnal name, or regnant name or reign name, is the name used by monarchs and popes during their reigns a ...
, wrested back control of the city and tamed Sunni dissidents. The Arab geographer,
al-Muqaddasi Shams al-Dīn Abū ʿAbd Allāh Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad ibn Abī Bakr al-Maqdisī ( ar, شَمْس ٱلدِّيْن أَبُو عَبْد ٱلله مُحَمَّد ابْن أَحْمَد ابْن أَبِي بَكْر ٱلْمَقْدِسِي), ...
, visited Damascus in 985, remarking that the architecture and infrastructure of the city was "magnificent", but living conditions were awful. Under al-Aziz, the city saw a brief period of stability that ended with the reign of al-Hakim (996–1021). In 998, hundreds of Damascus' citizens were rounded up and executed by him for incitement. Three years after al-Hakim's mysterious disappearance, the Arab tribes of southern Syria formed an alliance to stage a massive rebellion against the Fatimids, but they were crushed by the Fatimid Turkish governor of Syria and Palestine, Anushtakin al-Duzbari, in 1029. This victory gave the latter mastery over Syria, displeasing his Fatimid overlords, but gaining the admiration of Damascus' citizens. He was exiled by Fatimid authorities to
Aleppo )), is an adjective which means "white-colored mixed with black". , motto = , image_map = , mapsize = , map_caption = , image_map1 = ...
where he died in 1041. From that date to 1063, there are no known records of the city's history. By then, Damascus lacked a city administration, had an enfeebled economy, and a greatly reduced population.


Seljuq and Ayyubid periods

With the arrival of the
Seljuq Turks The Seljuk dynasty, or Seljukids ( ; fa, سلجوقیان ''Saljuqian'', alternatively spelled as Seljuqs or Saljuqs), also known as Seljuk Turks, Seljuk Turkomans "The defeat in August 1071 of the Byzantine emperor Romanos Diogenes by the Turk ...
in the late 11th century, Damascus again became the capital of independent states. It was ruled by Abu Sa'id Taj ad-Dawla Tutush I starting in 1079 and he was succeeded by his son Abu Nasr Duqaq in 1095. The Seljuqs established a court in Damascus and a systematic reversal of Shia inroads in the city. The city also saw an expansion of religious life through private endowments financing religious institutions (''
madrasa Madrasa (, also , ; Arabic: مدرسة , Plural, pl. , ) is the Arabs, Arabic word for any Educational institution, type of educational institution, secular or religious (of any religion), whether for elementary instruction or higher learning. T ...
s'') and hospitals (''maristans''). Damascus soon became one of the most important centers of propagating Islamic thought in the Muslim world. After Duqaq's death in 1104, his mentor (''
atabeg Atabeg, Atabek, or Atabey is a hereditary title of nobility of Turkic language, Turkic origin, indicating a governor of a nation or province who was subordinate to a monarch and charged with raising the crown prince. The first instance of the tit ...
''),
Toghtekin Toghtekin or Tughtekin (Modern tr, Tuğtekin; Arabicised epithet: ''Zahir ad-Din Tughtikin''; died February 12, 1128), also spelled Tughtegin, was a Turkic peoples, Turkic military leader, who was List of rulers of Damascus#Burid emirs, ''atabeg ...
, took control of Damascus and the Burid line of the Seljuq dynasty. Under Duqaq and Toghtekin, Damascus experienced stability, elevated status and a revived role in commerce. In addition, the city's Sunni majority enjoyed being a part of the larger Sunni framework effectively governed by various Turkic dynasties who in turn were under the
moral authority Moral authority is authority premised on principles, or fundamental truths, which are independent of written, or positive, laws. As such, moral authority necessitates the existence of and adherence to truth. Because truth does not change, the princi ...
of the Baghdad-based Abbasids. While the rulers of Damascus were preoccupied in conflict with their fellow Seljuqs in Aleppo and Diyarbakir, the Crusaders, who arrived in the
Levant The Levant () is an approximation, approximate historical geography, historical geographical term referring to a large area in the Eastern Mediterranean region of Western Asia. In its narrowest sense, which is in use today in archaeology an ...

Levant
in 1097, conquered
Jerusalem Jerusalem (; he, יְרוּשָׁלַיִם ; ar, القُدس ) (combining the Biblical and common usage Arabic names); grc, Ἱερουσαλήμ/Ἰεροσόλυμα, Hierousalḗm/Hierosóluma; hy, Երուսաղեմ, Erusałēm. i ...
,
Mount Lebanon Mount Lebanon ( ar, جَبَل لُبْنَان, ''jabal lubnān'', ; syr, ܛܘܪ ܠܒ݂ܢܢ, ', , ''ṭūr lewnōn'' french: Mont Liban) is a mountain range in Lebanon. It averages above in elevation, with its peak at . Geography The Mount Le ...
and Palestine. Duqaq seemed to have been content with Crusader rule as a buffer between his dominion and the Fatimid Caliphate of Egypt. Toghtekin, however, saw the Western invaders as a viable threat to Damascus which, at the time, nominally included
Homs Homs ( , , , ; ar, حِمْص / ALA-LC: ; Levantine Arabic: / ''Ḥomṣ'' ), known in pre-Islamic Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or سُورِيَة, translit=Sūriyā), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, الجمهور ...
, the Beqaa Valley, Hauran, and the Golan Heights as part of its territories. With military support from Sharaf al-Din
Mawdud Mawdud ibn Altuntash ( ar, شرف الدولة المودود) (also spelled Maudud or Sharaf al-Dawla Mawdûd) (died October 2, 1113) was a Turkic military leader who was List of rulers of Mosul#Seljuk Atabegs, atabeg of Mosul from 1109 to 1113. H ...
of
Mosul Mosul ( ar, الموصل, al-Mawṣil, ku, مووسڵ, translit=Mûsil, Turkish language, Turkish: ''Musul'', syr, ܡܘܨܠ, Māwṣil) is a major city in northern Iraq, serving as the capital of Nineveh Governorate. The city is considered ...
, Toghtekin managed to halt Crusader raids in the Golan and Hauran. Mawdud was assassinated in the Umayyad Mosque in 1109, depriving Damascus of northern Muslim backing and forcing Toghtekin to agree to a truce with the Crusaders in 1110. In 1126, the Crusader army led by Baldwin II fought Burid forces led by Toghtekin at Marj al-Saffar near Damascus; however, despite their tactical victory, the Crusaders failed in their objective to capture Damascus. Following Toghtekin's death in 1128, his son, Taj al-Muluk Buri, became the nominal ruler of Damascus. Coincidentally, the Seljuq prince of
Mosul Mosul ( ar, الموصل, al-Mawṣil, ku, مووسڵ, translit=Mûsil, Turkish language, Turkish: ''Musul'', syr, ܡܘܨܠ, Māwṣil) is a major city in northern Iraq, serving as the capital of Nineveh Governorate. The city is considered ...
,
Imad al-Din Zengi Imad al-Din Zengi ( ar, عماد الدین زنكي;  – 14 September 1146), also romanized as Zangi, Zengui, Zenki, and Zanki, was a Turkoman (ethnonym), Turkmen Atabeg, atabeg, who ruled Emir of Mosul, Mosul, Emirate of Aleppo, Aleppo, Ha ...
, took power in Aleppo and gained a mandate from the Abbasids to extend his authority to Damascus. In 1129, around 6,000 Isma'ili Muslims were killed in the city along with their leaders. The Sunnis were provoked by rumors alleging there was a plot by the Isma'ilis, who controlled the strategic fort at
Banias Banias or Banyas ( ar, بانياس الحولة; he, בניאס, label=Modern Hebrew; Judeo-Aramaic languages, Judeo-Aramaic, Medieval Hebrew: פמייס, etc.; grc, Πανεάς) is a site in the Golan Heights near a natural spring, once as ...
, to aid the Crusaders in capturing Damascus in return for control of Tyre. Soon after the massacre, the Crusaders aimed to take advantage of the unstable situation and launch an
assault An assault is the act of committing physical harm or unwanted physical contact upon a person or, in some specific legal definitions, a threat or attempt to commit such an action. It is both a crime and a tort and, therefore, may result in crim ...
against Damascus with nearly 2,000 knights and 10,000 infantry. However, Buri allied with Zengi and managed to prevent their army from reaching the city. Buri was assassinated by Isma'ili agents in 1132; he was succeeded by his son,
Shams al-Mulk Isma'il Shams al-Mulk Isma'il (1113 – February 1, 1135) was the Burid atabeg (or Seljuk Empire, Seljuk ruler) of the Emirate of Damascus from 1132 to 1135. Early life Shams al-Mulk Isma'il, born in 1113, was the son of Taj al-Muluk Buri, the atabeg of ...
who ruled tyrannically until he himself was murdered in 1135 on secret orders from his mother, Safwat al-Mulk Zumurrud; Isma'il's brother, Shihab al-Din Mahmud, replaced him. Meanwhile, Zengi, intent on putting Damascus under his control, married Safwat al-Mulk in 1138. Mahmud's reign then ended in 1139 after he was killed for relatively unknown reasons by members of his family. Mu'in al-Din Unur, his ''
mamluk Mamluk ( ar, مملوك, mamlūk (singular), , ''mamālīk'' (plural), translated as "one who is owned", meaning "History of slavery in the Muslim world, slave", also Arabic transliteration, transliterated as ''Mameluke'', ''mamluq'', ''mamluke ...
'' ("slave soldier") took effective power of the city, prompting Zengi—with Safwat al-Mulk's backing—to lay siege against Damascus the same year. In response, Damascus allied with the Crusader
Kingdom of Jerusalem The Kingdom of Jerusalem ( la, Regnum Hierosolymitanum; fro, Roiaume de Jherusalem), officially known as the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem or the Frankish Kingdom of Palestine,Example (title of works): was a Crusader states, Crusader state th ...
to resist Zengi's forces. Consequently, Zengi withdrew his army and focused on campaigns against northern Syria. In 1144, Zengi conquered Edessa, a crusader stronghold, which led to a new crusade from Europe in 1148. In the meantime Zengi was assassinated and his territory was divided among his sons, one of whom, Nur ad-Din, emir of Aleppo, made an alliance with Damascus. When the European crusaders arrived, they and the nobles of Jerusalem agreed to attack Damascus. Their siege, however, was a complete failure. When the city seemed to be on the verge of collapse, the crusader army suddenly moved against another section of the walls, and were driven back. By 1154, Damascus was firmly under Nur ad-Din's control. In 1164, King
Amalric of Jerusalem Amalric or Amaury I ( la, Amalricus; french: Amaury; 113611 July 1174) was King of Jerusalem from 1163, and Count of Jaffa and Ascalon before his accession. He was the second son of Melisende of Jerusalem, Melisende and Fulk of Jerusalem, and su ...
invaded Fatimid Egypt, which requested help from Nur ad-Din. The Nur ad-Din sent his general
Shirkuh Asad ad-Dīn Shīrkūh bin Shādhī (; ar, أسد الدين شيركوه بن شاذي), also known as Shirkuh, or Şêrko (meaning "lion of the mountains" in Kurdish) (died 22 February 1169) was a Kurdish military commander, and uncle of Sa ...
, and in 1166 Amalric was defeated at the Battle of al-Babein. When Shirkuh died in 1169, he was succeeded by his nephew Yusuf, better known as
Saladin Yusuf ibn Ayyub ibn Shadi () ( – 4 March 1193), commonly known by the epithet Saladin,, ; ku, سه‌لاحه‌دین, ; was the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty. Hailing from an ethnic Kurds, Kurdish family, he was the first of both Egy ...
, who defeated a joint crusader-Byzantine siege of
Damietta Damietta ( arz, دمياط ' ; cop, ⲧⲁⲙⲓⲁϯ, Tamiati) is a harbor, port city and the capital of the Damietta Governorate in Egypt, a former Diocese, bishopric and present multiple Catholic titular see. It is located at the Damietta ...
. Saladin eventually overthrew the Fatimid caliphs and established himself as Sultan of Egypt. He also began to assert his independence from Nur ad-Din, and with the death of both Amalric and Nur ad-Din in 1174, he was well-placed to begin exerting control over Damascus and Nur ad-Din's other Syrian possessions. In 1177 Saladin was defeated by the crusaders at the
Battle of Montgisard The Battle of Montgisard was fought between the Kingdom of Jerusalem and the Ayyubids on 25 November 1177 at Montgisard, in the Levant between Ramla and Yibna. The 16-year-old Baldwin IV of Jerusalem, seriously afflicted by leprosy, led an outn ...
, despite his numerical superiority. Saladin also besieged Kerak in 1183, but was forced to withdraw. He finally launched a full invasion of Jerusalem in 1187, and annihilated the crusader army at the
Battle of Hattin The Battle of Hattin took place on 4 July 1187, between the Crusader states of the Levant and the forces of the Ayyubid dynasty, Ayyubid sultan Saladin. It is also known as the Battle of the Horns of Hattin, due to the shape of the nearby exti ...
in July.
Acre The acre is a Unit of measurement, unit of land area used in the Imperial units, imperial and United States customary units#Units of area, US customary systems. It is traditionally defined as the area of one Chain (unit), chain by one furlong ( ...
fell to Saladin soon after, and Jerusalem itself was captured in October. These events shocked Europe, resulting in the
Third Crusade The Third Crusade (1189–1192) was an attempt by three European monarchs of Latin Christianity, Western Christianity (Philip II of France, Richard I of England and Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor) to reconquer the Holy Land following the Siege o ...
in 1189, led by
Richard I of England Richard I (8 September 1157 – 6 April 1199) was King of England from 1189 until his death in 1199. He also ruled as Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine, Aquitaine and Duchy of Gascony, Gascony, Lord of Cyprus, and Count of Poitiers, Co ...
,
Philip II of France Philip II (21 August 1165 – 14 July 1223), byname Philip Augustus (french: Philippe Auguste), was King of France from 1180 to 1223. His predecessors had been known as kings of the Franks, but from 1190 onward, Philip became the first French m ...
and
Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa (December 1122 – 10 June 1190), also known as Frederick I (german: link=no, Friedrich I, it, Federico I), was the Holy Roman Emperor from 1155 until his death 35 years later. He was elected King of Germany in Frankfurt am ...
, though the last drowned en route. The surviving crusaders, joined by new arrivals from Europe, put Acre to a lengthy siege which lasted until 1191. After re-capturing Acre, Richard defeated Saladin at the
Battle of Arsuf The Battle of Arsuf took place on 7 September 1191, as part of the Third Crusade. It saw a multi-national force of Crusades, Crusaders, led by Richard I of England, defeat a significantly larger army of the Ayyubid dynasty, Ayyubid Sultanate ...
in 1191 and the Battle of Jaffa in 1192, recovering most of the coast for the Christians, but could not recover Jerusalem or any of the inland territory of the kingdom. The crusade came to an end peacefully, with the Treaty of Jaffa in 1192. Saladin allowed pilgrimages to be made to Jerusalem, allowing the crusaders to fulfil their vows, after which they all returned home. Local crusader barons set about rebuilding their kingdom from Acre and the other coastal cities. Saladin died in 1193, and there were frequent conflicts between different Ayyubid sultans ruling in Damascus and Cairo. Damascus was the capital of independent Ayyubid rulers between 1193 and 1201, from 1218 to 1238, from 1239 to 1245, and from 1250 to 1260. At other times it was ruled by the Ayyubid rulers of Egypt. During the internecine wars fought by the Ayyubid rulers, Damascus was besieged repeatedly, as, e.g., in 1229. The patterned Byzantine and Chinese silks available through Damascus, one of the Western termini of the
Silk Road The Silk Road () was a network of Eurasia Eurasia (, ) is the largest continental area on Earth, comprising all of Europe and Asia. Primarily in the Northern Hemisphere, Northern and Eastern Hemispheres, it spans from the British Isles a ...
, gave the English language "damask".


Mamluk period

Ayyubid rule (and independence) came to an end with the Mongol invasion of Syria in 1260, in which the Mongols led by
Kitbuqa Kitbuqa Noyan (died 1260), also spelled Kitbogha, Kitboga, or Ketbugha, was an Church of the East, Eastern Christian of the Naimans, a group that was subservient to the Mongol Empire. He was a lieutenant and confidant of the Mongol Ilkhan Hula ...
entered the city on 1 March 1260, along with the King of Armenia, Hethum I, and the Prince of Antioch, Bohemond VI; hence, the citizens of Damascus saw for the first time for six centuries three Christian potentates ride in triumph through their streets. However, following the Mongol defeat at Ain Jalut on 3 September 1260, Damascus was captured five days later and became the provincial capital of the
Mamluk Sultanate The Mamluk Sultanate ( ar, سلطنة المماليك, translit=Salṭanat al-Mamālīk), also known as Mamluk Egypt or the Mamluk Empire, was a state that ruled medieval Egypt, Egypt, the Levant and the Hejaz (western Arabia) from the mid-13 ...
, ruled from Egypt, following the Mongol withdrawal. Following their victory at the Battle of Wadi al-Khaznadar, the Mongols led by
Ghazan Mahmud Ghazan (5 November 1271 – 11 May 1304) (, Ghazan Khan, sometimes archaically spelled as Casanus by the Westerners) was the seventh ruler of the Mongol Empire's Ilkhanate division in modern-day Iran from 1295 to 1304. He was the son of A ...
besieged the city for ten days, which surrendered between December 30, 1299, and January 6, 1300, though its Citadel resisted. Ghazan then retreated with most of his forces in February, probably because the Mongol horses needed fodder, and left behind about 10,000 horsemen under the Mongol general Mulay. Around March 1300, Mulay returned with his horsemen to Damascus, then followed Ghazan back across the
Euphrates The Euphrates () is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Tigris–Euphrates river system, Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia ( ''the land between the rivers'') ...
. In May 1300, the Egyptian Mamluks returned from Egypt and reclaimed the entire area without a battle. In April 1303, the Mamluks managed to defeat the Mongol army led by Kutlushah and Mulay along with their Armenian allies at the Battle of Marj al-Saffar, to put an end to
Mongol invasions of the Levant Starting in the 1240s, the Mongol Empire, Mongols made repeated invasions of Syria (region), Syria or attempts thereof. Most failed, but they did have some success in 1260 and 1300, capturing Aleppo and Damascus and destroying the Ayyubid dynast ...
. Later on, the
Black Death The Black Death (also known as the Pestilence, the Great Mortality or the Plague) was a bubonic plague pandemic occurring in Western Eurasia and North Africa North Africa, or Northern Africa is a region encompassing the northern portio ...
of 1348–1349 killed as much as half of the city's population. In 1400,
Timur Timur ; chg, ''Aqsaq Temür'', 'Timur the Lame') or as ''Sahib-i-Qiran'' ( 'Lord of the Auspicious Conjunction'), his epithet. ( chg, ''Temür'', 'Iron'; 9 April 133617–19 February 1405), later Timūr Gurkānī ( chg, ''Temür Kür ...
, the
Turco-Mongol The Turco-Mongol or Turko-Mongol tradition was an ethnocultural synthesis that arose in Asia during the 14th century, among the ruling elites of the Golden Horde and the Chagatai Khanate. The ruling Mongolian nobility, Mongol elites of these Kh ...
conqueror, besieged Damascus. The Mamluk sultan dispatched a deputation from Cairo, including
Ibn Khaldun Ibn Khaldun (; ar, أبو زيد عبد الرحمن بن محمد بن خلدون الحضرمي, ; 27 May 1332 – 17 March 1406, 732-808 Hijri year, AH) was an Arabs, Arab The Historical Muhammad', Irving M. Zeitlin, (Polity Press, 2007), ...
, who negotiated with him, but after their withdrawal Timur sacked the city on 17 March 1401. The
Umayyad Mosque The Umayyad Mosque ( ar, الجامع الأموي, al-Jāmiʿ al-Umawī), also known as the Great Mosque of Damascus ( ar, الجامع الدمشق, al-Jāmiʿ al-Damishq), located in the old city of Damascus, the capital of Syria, is one of the ...
was burnt and men and women taken into slavery. A huge number of the city's artisans were taken to Timur's capital at
Samarkand fa, سمرقند , native_name_lang = , settlement_type = City , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from the top:Registan square, Shah-i-Zinda necropolis, Bibi-Khanym Mosque, view inside Shah-i-Zinda, ...
. These were the luckier citizens: many were slaughtered and their heads piled up in a field outside the north-east corner of the walls, where a city square still bears the name ''Burj al-Ru'us'' (between modern-day Al-Qassaa and Bab Tuma), originally "the tower of heads". Rebuilt, Damascus continued to serve as a Mamluk provincial capital until 1516.


Ottoman period

In early 1516, the
Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire, * ; is an archaic version. The definite article forms and were synonymous * and el, Оθωμανική Αυτοκρατορία, Othōmanikē Avtokratoria, label=none * info page on book at Martin Luther University) ...

Ottoman Empire
, wary of the danger of an alliance between the Mamluks and the Persian
Safavids Safavid Iran or Safavid Persia (), also referred to as the Safavid Empire, '. was one of the greatest Iranian empires after the 7th-century Muslim conquest of Persia, which was ruled from 1501 to 1736 by the Safavid dynasty. It is often conside ...
, started a campaign of conquest against the Mamluk sultanate. On 21 September, the Mamluk governor of Damascus fled the city, and on 2 October the
khutba ''Khutbah'' ( ar, خطبة ''khuṭbah'', tr, hutbe) serves as the primary formal occasion for public sermon, preaching in the Islamic tradition. Such sermons occur regularly, as prescribed by the teachings of all legal schools. The Islamic t ...
in the Umayyad mosque was pronounced in the name of
Selim I Selim I ( ota, سليم الأول; tr, I. Selim; 10 October 1470 – 22 September 1520), known as Selim the Grim or Selim the Resolute ( tr, links=no, Yavuz Sultan Selim), was the List of sultans of the Ottoman Empire, Sultan of the Ottoman ...
. The day after, the victorious sultan entered the city, staying for three months. On 15 December, he left Damascus by Bab al-Jabiya, intent on the conquest of Egypt. Little appeared to have changed in the city: one army had simply replaced another. However, on his return in October 1517, the sultan ordered the construction of a mosque, tekkiye and mausoleum at the shrine of Shaikh Muhi al-Din ibn Arabi in al-Salihiyah. This was to be the first of Damascus' great Ottoman monuments. During this time, according to an Ottoman census, Damascus had 10,423 households. The Ottomans remained for the next 400 years, except for a brief occupation by
Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt Ibrahim Pasha ( tr, Kavalalı İbrahim Paşa; ar, إبراهيم باشا ''Ibrāhīm Bāshā''; 1789 – 10 November 1848) was an Ottoman Empire, Ottoman Albanians, Albanian general in the Egyptian Army, Egyptian army and the eldest son of Muha ...
from 1832 to 1840. Because of its importance as the point of departure for one of the two great
Hajj The Hajj (; ar, حَجّ '; sometimes also spelled Hadj, Hadji or Haj in English) is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the Holiest sites in Islam, holiest city for Muslims. Hajj is a Fard, mandatory religious duty for Mu ...
caravans to
Mecca Mecca (; officially Makkah al-Mukarramah, commonly shortened to Makkah ()) is a city and administrative center of the Mecca Province of Saudi Arabia, and the Holiest sites in Islam, holiest city in Islam. It is inland from Jeddah on the Red ...
, Damascus was treated with more attention by the Porte than its size might have warranted—for most of this period,
Aleppo )), is an adjective which means "white-colored mixed with black". , motto = , image_map = , mapsize = , map_caption = , image_map1 = ...
was more populous and commercially more important. In 1559 the western building of Sulaymaniyya Takiyya, comprising a mosque and khan for pilgrims on the road to Mecca, was completed to a design by the famous Ottoman architect
Mimar Sinan Mimar Sinan ( ota, معمار سينان, translit=Mi'mâr Sinân, , ) ( 1488–1490 – 17 July 1588) also known as Koca Mi'mâr Sinân Âğâ, ("Sinan Agha (title), Agha the Grand Architect" or "Grand Sinan") was the chief Ottoman Empir ...
, and soon afterwards the Salimiyya Madrasa was built adjoining it. Early in the nineteenth century, Damascus was noted for its shady cafes along the banks of the Barada. A depiction of these by William Henry Bartlett was published in 1836, along with a poetical illustration by
Letitia Elizabeth Landon Letitia Elizabeth Landon (14 August 1802 – 15 October 1838) was an English poet and novelist, better known by her initials L.E.L. The writings of Landon are transitional between Romanticism and the Victorian Age. Her first major breakthrough ...
, see . Under
Ottoman rule Ottoman is the Turkish spelling of the Arabic masculine given name Uthman Uthman ibn Affan ( ar, عثمان بن عفان, ʿUthmān ibn ʿAffān; – 17 June 656), also spelled by Colloquial Arabic, Turkish language, Turkish and Persian ...
, Christians and
Jews Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים, , ) or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and nation originating from the Israelites Israelite origins and kingdom: "The first act in the long drama of Jewish history is the age of the Israelites""The ...
were considered
dhimmi ' ( ar, ذمي ', , collectively ''/'' "the people of the covenant") or () is a historical term for Kafir, non-Muslims living in an Islamic state with legal protection. The word literally means "protected person", referring to the state's obl ...
s and were allowed to practice their religious precepts. During the Damascus affair of 1840 the false accusation of
ritual murder Human sacrifice is the act of killing one or more humans as part of a ritual, which is usually intended to please or appease deity, gods, a human ruler, an authoritative/priestly figure or spirits of veneration of the dead, dead ancestors or as ...
was brought against members of the Jewish community of Damascus. The massacre of Christians in 1860 was also one of the most notorious incidents of these centuries, when fighting between
Druze The Druze (; ar, دَرْزِيٌّ, ' or ', , ') are an Arabic-speaking Western esotericism, esoteric ethnoreligious group from Western Asia who adhere to the Druze faith, an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, monotheistic, Syncretic religio ...
and
Maronites The Maronites ( ar, الموارنة; syr, ܡܖ̈ܘܢܝܐ) are a Christianity, Christian ethnoreligious group native to the Eastern Mediterranean and Levant region of the Middle East, whose members traditionally belong to the Maronite Church, wi ...
in
Mount Lebanon Mount Lebanon ( ar, جَبَل لُبْنَان, ''jabal lubnān'', ; syr, ܛܘܪ ܠܒ݂ܢܢ, ', , ''ṭūr lewnōn'' french: Mont Liban) is a mountain range in Lebanon. It averages above in elevation, with its peak at . Geography The Mount Le ...
spilled over into the city. Several thousand Christians were killed in June 1860, with many more being saved through the intervention of the Algerian exile Abd al-Qadir and his soldiers (three days after the massacre started), who brought them to safety in Abd al-Qadir's residence and the
Citadel of Damascus The Citadel of Damascus ( ar, قلعة دمشق, Qalʿat Dimašq) is a large medieval fortified palace and citadel in Damascus, Syria. It is part of the Ancient City of Damascus, which was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. The loc ...
. The Christian quarter of the old city (mostly inhabited by Catholics), including a number of churches, was burnt down. The Christian inhabitants of the notoriously poor and refractory district outside the walls (mostly Orthodox) were, however, protected by their Muslim neighbors. American Missionary E.C. Miller records that in 1867 the population of the city was 'about' 140,000, of whom 30,000 were Christians, 10,000 Jews and 100,000 'Mohammedans' with fewer than 100 Protestant Christians. In the meantime, American writer
Mark Twain Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910), known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American writer, humorist, entrepreneur, publisher, and lecturer. He was praised as the "greatest humorist the United States has pr ...
visited Damascus, then wrote about his travel in ''
The Innocents Abroad ''The Innocents Abroad, or The New Pilgrims' Progress'' is a travel literature , travel book by American author Mark Twain. Published in 1869, it humorously chronicles what Twain called his "Great Pleasure Excursion" on board the chartered vess ...
'', in which he mentioned: "Though old as history itself, thou art fresh as the breath of spring, blooming as thine own rose-bud, and fragrant as thine own orange flower, O Damascus, pearl of the East!". In November 1898, German emperor
Wilhelm II Wilhelm II (Friedrich Wilhelm Viktor Albert; 27 January 18594 June 1941) was the last German Emperor (german: Kaiser) and List of monarchs of Prussia, King of Prussia, reigning from 15 June 1888 until Abdication of Wilhelm II, his abdication on 9 ...
toured Damascus, during his trip to the Ottoman Empire.


Modern period


20th century

In the early years of the 20th century, nationalist sentiment in Damascus, initially cultural in its interest, began to take a political coloring, largely in reaction to the turkicisation program of the
Committee of Union and Progress The Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) ( ota, اتحاد و ترقى جمعيتی, translit=İttihad ve Terakki Cemiyeti, script=Arab), later the Union and Progress Party ( ota, اتحاد و ترقى فرقه‌سی, translit=İttihad ve Tera ...
government established in Istanbul in 1908. The hanging of a number of patriotic intellectuals by Jamal Pasha, governor of Damascus, in Beirut and Damascus in 1915 and 1916 further stoked nationalist feeling, and in 1918, as the forces of the
Arab Revolt The Arab Revolt ( ar, الثورة العربية, ) or the Great Arab Revolt ( ar, الثورة العربية الكبرى, ) was a military uprising of Arab forces against the Ottoman Empire in the Middle Eastern theatre of World War I. On t ...
and the British Imperial forces approached, residents fired on the retreating Turkish troops. On 1 October 1918, T.E. Lawrence entered Damascus, the third arrival of the day, the first being the Australian 3rd Light Horse Brigade, led by Major A.C.N. 'Harry' Olden. Two days later, 3 October 1918, the forces of the Arab revolt led by Prince Faisal also entered Damascus. A military government under Shukri Pasha was named and Faisal ibn Hussein was proclaimed
king of Syria The title King of Syria appeared in the second century BC in referring to the Seleucid Empire, Seleucid kings who ruled the entirety of the region of Syria. It was also used to refer to Aramean kings in the Greek translations of the Old Testament, ...
. Political tension rose in November 1917, when the new
Bolshevik The Bolsheviks (russian: Большевики́, from большинство́ ''bol'shinstvó'', 'majority'),; derived from ''bol'shinstvó'' (большинство́), "majority", literally meaning "one of the majority". also known in English ...
government in Russia revealed the Sykes-Picot Agreement whereby Britain and France had arranged to partition the Arab east between them. A new Franco-British proclamation on 17 November promised the "complete and definitive freeing of the peoples so long oppressed by the Turks." The
Syrian National Congress The Syrian National Congress, also called the Pan-Syrian Congress and General Syrian Congress (GSC), was convened in May 1919 in Damascus )), is an adjective which means "spacious". , motto = , image_flag = ...
in March adopted a democratic constitution. However, the
Versailles Conference The Palace of Versailles ( ; french: Château de Versailles ) is a former royal residence built by King Louis XIV located in Versailles, Yvelines, Versailles, about west of Paris, France. The palace is owned by the French Republic and since 19 ...
had granted France a
mandate Mandate most often refers to: * League of Nations mandate A League of Nations mandate was a legal status for certain territories transferred from the control of one country to another following World War I, or the legal instruments that ...
over Syria, and in 1920 a French army commanded by the General
Mariano Goybet Mariano Francisco Julio Goybet (17 August 1861 – 29 September 1943) was a French Army History Early history The first permanent army, paid with regular wages, instead of feudal levies, was established under Charles VII of France, Charle ...
crossed the Anti-Lebanon Mountains, defeated a small Syrian defensive expedition at the
Battle of Maysalun The Battle of Maysalun ( ar, معركة ميسلون), also called the Battle of Maysalun Pass or the Battle of Khan Maysalun (french: Bataille de Khan Mayssaloun), was a four-hour battle fought between the forces of the Arab Kingdom of Syria ...
and entered Damascus. The French made Damascus capital of their
League of Nations The League of Nations (french: link=no, Société des Nations ) was the first worldwide Intergovernmental organization, intergovernmental organisation whose principal mission was to maintain world peace. It was founded on 10 January 1920 by ...
Mandate for Syria. When in 1925 the
Great Syrian Revolt The Great Syrian Revolt ( ar, الثورة السورية الكبرى) or Revolt of 1925 was a general uprising across the State of Syria and Greater Lebanon during the period of 1925 to 1927. The leading rebel forces comprised fighters of t ...
in the
Hauran The Hauran ( ar, حَوْرَان, ''Ḥawrān''; also spelled ''Hawran'' or ''Houran'') is a region that spans parts of southern Syria and northern Jordan. It is bound in the north by the Ghouta oasis, eastwards by the al-Safa (Syria), al-Safa ...
spread to Damascus, the French suppressed with heavy weaponry, bombing and shelling the city on 9 May 1926. As a result, the area of the old city between
Al-Hamidiyah Souq The Al-Hamidiyah Souq () is the largest and the central souk in Syria, located inside the old walled city of Damascus next to the Citadel of Damascus, Citadel. The souq is about long and wide, and is covered by a tall metal arch. The souq start ...
and Medhat Pasha Souq was burned to the ground, with many deaths, and has since then been known as ''
al-Hariqa Al-Hariqa ( ar, الحريقة) is a neighborhood in Damascus, Syria. It lies inside the walls of the old city south of the Citadel of Damascus between the late-Ottoman-era markets of al-Hamidiyah Souq and Medhat Pasha Souq. The neighborhood was kno ...
'' ("the fire"). The old city was surrounded with barbed wire to prevent rebels infiltrating from the
Ghouta Ghouta ( ar, غُوطَةُ دِمَشْقَ / ALA-LC: ''Ḡūṭat Dimašq'') is a countryside and suburban area in southwestern Syria that surrounds the city of Damascus along its eastern and southern rim. Name Ghouta is the Arabic term (''gh ...
, and a new road was built outside the northern ramparts to facilitate the movement of armored cars. On 21 June 1941, 3 weeks into the Allied Syria-Lebanon campaign, Damascus was captured from the
Vichy French Vichy France (french: Régime de Vichy; 10 July 1940 – 9 August 1944), officially the French State ('), was the Fascism, fascist French state headed by Marshal Philippe Pétain during World War II. Officially independent, but with half of ...
forces by a mixed British Indian and Free French force. The French agreed to withdraw in 1946, following the British intervention during the Levant Crisis, thus leading to the full independence of Syria. Damascus remained the capital.


Civil war

By January 2012, clashes between the regular army and rebels reached the outskirts of Damascus, reportedly preventing people from leaving or reaching their houses, especially when security operations there intensified from the end of January into February. By June 2012, bullets and shrapnel shells smashed into homes in Damascus overnight as troops battled the Free Syrian Army in the streets. At least three tank shells slammed into residential areas in the central Damascus neighborhood of Qaboun, according to activists. Intense exchanges of assault-rifle fire marked the clash, according to residents and amateur video posted online. The Damascus suburb of
Ghouta Ghouta ( ar, غُوطَةُ دِمَشْقَ / ALA-LC: ''Ḡūṭat Dimašq'') is a countryside and suburban area in southwestern Syria that surrounds the city of Damascus along its eastern and southern rim. Name Ghouta is the Arabic term (''gh ...
suffered heavy bombing in December 2017 and a further wave of bombing started in February 2018, also known as Rif Dimashq Offensive. On 20 May 2018, Damascus and the entire Rif Dimashq Governorate came fully under government control for the first time in 7 years after the evacuation of IS from
Yarmouk Camp Yarmouk ( ar, مُخَيَّم ٱلْيَرْمُوْك / ALA-LC: ', ) is a Municipalities of Damascus, district of the city of Damascus, populated by Palestinian people, Palestinians, with hospitals and schools. It is located from the center of ...
. In September 2019, Damascus entered the ''
Guinness World Records ''Guinness World Records'', known from its inception in 1955 until 1999 as ''The Guinness Book of Records'' and in previous United States editions as ''The Guinness Book of World Records'', is a reference book published annually, listing world ...
'' as the least liveable city, scoring 30.7 points on the
Economist An economist is a professional and practitioner in the social sciences, social science discipline of economics. The individual may also study, develop, and apply theories and concepts from economics and write about economic policy. Within this ...
's Global Liveability Index in 2019, based on factors such as: stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure. However, the trend of being the least liveable city on Earth started in 2017, and continued as of 2022.


Economy

The historical role that Damascus played as an important trade center has changed in recent years due to political development in the region as well as the development of modern trade. Most goods produced in Damascus, as well as in Syria, are distributed to countries of the Arabian peninsula. Damascus has also held an annual international trade exposition every fall, since 1954. The tourism industry in Damascus has a lot of potential, however the civil war has hampered these prospects. The abundance of cultural wealth in Damascus has been modestly employed since the late 1980s with the development of many accommodation and transportation establishments and other related investments. Since the early 2000s, numerous boutique hotels and bustling cafes opened in the old city which attract plenty of European tourists and Damascenes alike.
In 2009 new office space was built and became available on the real estate market. Damascus is home to a wide range of industrial activity, such as textile,
food processing Food processing is the transformation of Agriculture, agricultural products into food, or of one form of food into other forms. Food processing includes many forms of processing foods, from grinding grain to make raw flour to home cooking to co ...
, cement and various chemical industries. The majority of factories are run by the state, however limited
privatization Privatization (also privatisation in British English) can mean several different things, most commonly referring to moving something from the public sector into the private sector. It is also sometimes used as a synonym for deregulation when ...
in addition to economic activities led by the
private sector The private sector is the part of the economy, sometimes referred to as the citizen sector, which is owned by private groups, usually as a means of establishment for profit (economics), profit or Non Profit, non profit, rather than being owned by t ...
, were permitted starting in the early 2000s with the liberalization of trade that took place. Traditional handcrafts and artisan copper engravings are still produced in the old city. The Damascus stock exchange formally opened for trade in March 2009, and the exchange is the only stock exchange in Syria. It is located in the Barzeh district, within Syria's financial markets and securities commission. Its final home is to be located in the upmarket business district of Yaafur.


Demographics

The estimated population of Damascus in 2011 was 1,711,000. Damascus is the center of a crowded metropolitan area with an estimated population of 5 million. The metropolitan area of Damascus includes the cities of Douma, Harasta, Darayya, Al-Tall and
Jaramana Jaramana ( ar, جرمانا) is a city in southern Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or سُورِيَة, translit=Sūriyā), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, الجمهورية العربية السورية, al-Jumhūrīyah a ...
. The city's growth rate is higher than Syria as a whole, primarily due to rural-urban migration and the influx of young Syrian migrants drawn by employment and educational opportunities. The migration of Syrian youths to Damascus has resulted in an average age within the city that is below the national average. Nonetheless, the population of Damascus is thought to have decreased in recent years as a result of the ongoing .


Ethnicity

The vast majority of Damascenes are Syrian
Arabs The Arabs (singular: Arab; singular ar, عَرَبِيٌّ, DIN 31635: , , plural ar, عَرَب, DIN 31635: , Arabic pronunciation: ), also known as the Arab people, are an ethnic group An ethnic group or an ethnicity is a grouping o ...
. The
Kurds ug:كۇردلار Kurds ( ku, کورد ,Kurd, italic=yes, rtl=yes) or Kurdish people are an Iranian peoples, Iranian ethnic group native to the mountainous region of Kurdistan in Western Asia, which spans southeastern Turkey, northwestern Ir ...
are the largest ethnic minority, with a population of approximately 300,000. They reside primarily in the neighborhoods of Wadi al-Mashari ("Zorava" or "Zore Afa" in Kurdish) and Rukn al-Din. Other minorities include
Syrian Turkmen Syrian Turkmen, also referred to as Syrian Turkomans, Turkish Syrians, or simply Syrian Turks or Turks of Syria, ( ar, تركمان سوريا; tr, Suriye Türkmenleri or ) are Syrian citizens of Turkish people, Turkish origin who mainly trace ...
, Armenians, Assyrians, Circassians and a small Greek community. Among the city's minorities is a small
Palestinian Palestinians ( ar, الفلسطينيون, ; he, פָלַסְטִינִים, ) or Palestinian people ( ar, الشعب الفلسطيني, label=none, ), also referred to as Palestinian Arabs ( ar, الفلسطينيين العرب, label=non ...
community.


Religion

Islam Islam (; ar, ۘالِإسلَام, , ) is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion centred primarily around the Quran, a religious text considered by Muslims to be the direct word of God in Islam, God (or ''Allah'') as it was revealed to Muh ...
is the dominant religion. The majority of Muslims are
Sunni Sunni Islam () is the largest Islamic schools and branches, branch of Islam, followed by 85–90% of the world's Muslims. Its name comes from the word ''Sunnah'', referring to the tradition of Muhammad. The differences between Sunni and Shia ...
while
Alawites The Alawis, Alawites ( ar, علوية ''Alawīyah''), or pejoratively Nusayris ( ar, نصيرية ''Nuṣayrīyah'') are an ethnoreligious group An ethnoreligious group (or an ethno-religious group) is a grouping of people who are unified by ...
and Twelver Shi'a comprise sizeable minorities. Alawites live primarily in the Mezzeh districts of Mezzeh 86 and Sumariyah. Twelvers primarily live near the Shia holy sites of Sayyidah Ruqayya and Sayyidah Zaynab. It is believed that there are more than 200 mosques in Damascus, the most well-known being the
Umayyad Mosque The Umayyad Mosque ( ar, الجامع الأموي, al-Jāmiʿ al-Umawī), also known as the Great Mosque of Damascus ( ar, الجامع الدمشق, al-Jāmiʿ al-Damishq), located in the old city of Damascus, the capital of Syria, is one of the ...
. Christians represent about 15%–20% of the population. Several Eastern Christian rites have their headquarters in Damascus, including the
Syriac Orthodox Church , native_name_lang = syc , image = St_George_Syriac_orthodox_church_in_Damascus.jpg , imagewidth = 250 , alt = Cathedral of Saint George , caption = Cathedral of Saint George, Damascus ...
, the
Syriac Catholic Church The Syriac Catholic Church ( syc, ܥܕܬܐ ܣܘܪܝܝܬܐ ܩܬܘܠܝܩܝܬܐ, ʿĪṯo Suryayṯo Qaṯolīqayṯo, ar, الكنيسة السريانية الكاثوليكية) is an Eastern Catholic Churches, Eastern Catholic Christianity ...
, and the
Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch ( el, Ελληνορθόδοξο Πατριαρχείο Αντιοχείας), also known as the Antiochian Orthodox Church and legally as the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East ( ar ...
. The Christian districts in the city are Bab Tuma, Qassaa and Ghassani. Each have many churches, most notably the ancient Chapel of Saint Paul and St Georges Cathedral in Bab Tuma. At the suburb of Soufanieh a series of apparitions of the Virgin Mary have reportedly been observed between 1982 and 2004. A smaller
Druze The Druze (; ar, دَرْزِيٌّ, ' or ', , ') are an Arabic-speaking Western esotericism, esoteric ethnoreligious group from Western Asia who adhere to the Druze faith, an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, monotheistic, Syncretic religio ...
minority inhabits the city, notably in the mixed Christian-Druze suburbs of Tadamon,
Jaramana Jaramana ( ar, جرمانا) is a city in southern Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or سُورِيَة, translit=Sūriyā), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, الجمهورية العربية السورية, al-Jumhūrīyah a ...
, and Sahnaya. The Patriarchal See of the Syriac Orthodox is based in Damascus, Bab Toma. This church is independent of the Middle Eastern-based Syriac Orthodox Church in Damascus and has its own leadership and structure in India, although both practice the same or similar denomination of Christianity. There are 700,000
members Member may refer to: * Military jury, referred to as "Members" in military jargon * Element (mathematics), an object that belongs to a mathematical set * In object-oriented programming, a member of a class ** Field (computer science), entries in ...
of the
Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch ( el, Ελληνορθόδοξο Πατριαρχείο Αντιοχείας), also known as the Antiochian Orthodox Church and legally as the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East ( ar ...
in Syria, who are the bulk of the Christian population alongside 400,000 Assyrians/Syriacs and 30-100,000
Armenians Armenians ( hy, հայեր, ''Romanization of Armenian, hayer'' ) are an ethnic group native to the Armenian highlands of Western Asia. Armenians constitute the main population of Armenia and the ''de facto'' independent Republic of Artsakh ...
and 350,000 Catholics. There was a small
Jewish community Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים, , ) or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group An ethnoreligious group (or an ethno-religious group) is a grouping of people who are unified by a common Religion, religious and ethnic group, ethnic backg ...
namely in what is called ''Haret al-Yahud'' the Jewish quarter. They are the remnants of an ancient and much larger Jewish presence in Syria, dating back at least to Roman times, if not before to the time of King David.


Gallery

Melkite Greek Catholic Church, Damascus, Syria.jpg, The Greek-Melkite Patriarchal Cathedral of the Dormition of Our Lady Syriac Catholic Church, Damascus 01.jpg, The
Syriac Catholic Cathedral of Saint Paul Syriac Catholic Cathedral of Saint PaulDiana Darke, ''Syria''. Bradt Travel Guides, 2006. S. 91. ''The Christian quarter: Syrian Catholic Cathedral of Mar Paulus (St Paul)''. ( ar, كَاتِدْرَائِيَّة مَار بُولُس , Kātidr ...
Damascus-Bab Kisan.jpg, The Chapel of Saint Paul Takiyya as-Süleimaniyya Mosque 01.jpg, The Sulaymaniyya Takiyya File:Syria, Damascus, The Umayyad Mosque, The Great Mosque of Damascus.jpg, The
Umayyad Mosque The Umayyad Mosque ( ar, الجامع الأموي, al-Jāmiʿ al-Umawī), also known as the Great Mosque of Damascus ( ar, الجامع الدمشق, al-Jāmiʿ al-Damishq), located in the old city of Damascus, the capital of Syria, is one of the ...
Sayyidah Ruqayya Mosque 03.jpg, The Sayyidah Ruqayya Mosque


Sufism

Sufism Sufism ( ar, ''aṣ-ṣūfiyya''), also known as Tasawwuf ( ''at-taṣawwuf''), is a mysticism, mystic body of religious practice, found mainly within Sunni Islam but also within Shia Islam, which is characterized by a focus on Islamic spiri ...
throughout the second half of the 20th century has been an influential current in the Sunni religious practises, particularly in Damascus. The largest women-only and girls-only Muslim movement in the world happens to be Sufi-oriented and is based in Damascus, led by Munira al-Qubaysi. Syrian Sufism has its stronghold in urban regions such as Damascus, where it also established political movements such as Zayd, with the help of a series of
mosque A mosque (; from ar, مَسْجِد, masjid, ; literally "place of ritual prostration"), also called masjid, is a Place of worship, place of prayer for Muslims. Mosques are usually covered buildings, but can be any place where prayers (sujud) ...
s, and clergy such as Abd al-Ghani al-Nabulsi, Sa'id Hawwa, Abd al-Rahman al-Shaghouri and Muhammad al-Yaqoubi.


Historical sites

Damascus has a wealth of historical sites dating back to many different periods of the city's history. Since the city has been built up with every passing occupation, it has become almost impossible to excavate all the ruins of Damascus that lie up to below the modern level. The
Citadel of Damascus The Citadel of Damascus ( ar, قلعة دمشق, Qalʿat Dimašq) is a large medieval fortified palace and citadel in Damascus, Syria. It is part of the Ancient City of Damascus, which was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. The loc ...
is in the northwest corner of the Old City. The ''
Damascus Straight Street Straight Street, from the Latin Via Recta ( ar, الشارع المستقيم ''al-Shāriʿ al-Mustaqīm''), known as the Street called Straight ( gr, τήν ῥύμην τήν καλουμένην εὐθείαν) in the New Testament, is the ol ...
'' (referred to in the account of the conversion of St. Paul in
Acts The Acts of the Apostles ( grc-koi, Πράξεις Ἀποστόλων, ''Práxeis Apostólōn''; la, Actūs Apostolōrum) is the fifth book of the New Testament; it tells of the founding of the Christian Church and the spread of The gospel, ...
9:11), also known as the '' Via Recta'', was the decumanus (east–west main street) of Roman Damascus, and extended for over . Today, it consists of the street of Bab Sharqi and the Souk Medhat Pasha, a covered market. The
Bab Sharqi Bab Sharqi ( ar, بَابٌ شَرْقِيٌّ, Bāb Šarqī; "The Eastern Gate"), also known as the Gate of the Sun, is one of the seven ancient city gate A city gate is a gate which is, or was, set within a city wall. It is a type of fortifi ...
street is filled with small shops and leads to the old Christian quarter of Bab Tuma (St. Thomas's Gate), where St George’s Cathedral, the seat of the
Syriac Orthodox Church , native_name_lang = syc , image = St_George_Syriac_orthodox_church_in_Damascus.jpg , imagewidth = 250 , alt = Cathedral of Saint George , caption = Cathedral of Saint George, Damascus ...
, is notably located. Medhat Pasha Souq is also a main market in Damascus and was named after
Midhat Pasha Ahmed Şefik Midhat Pasha ( ota , احمد شفيق مدحت پاشا, 18 October 1822 – 26 April 1883) was an Ottoman democrat, kingmaker and one of the leading statesmen during the late Tanzimat The Tanzimat (; ota, تنظيمات, tr ...
, the Ottoman governor of Syria who renovated the Souk. At the end of the Bab Sharqi street, one reaches the House of Ananias, an underground chapel that was the cellar of Ananias's house. The
Umayyad Mosque The Umayyad Mosque ( ar, الجامع الأموي, al-Jāmiʿ al-Umawī), also known as the Great Mosque of Damascus ( ar, الجامع الدمشق, al-Jāmiʿ al-Damishq), located in the old city of Damascus, the capital of Syria, is one of the ...
, also known as the Grand Mosque of Damascus, is one of the largest mosques in the world and also one of the oldest sites of continuous prayer since the rise of Islam. A shrine in the mosque is said to contain the body of St. John the Baptist. The
mausoleum A mausoleum is an external free-standing building constructed as a monument enclosing the interment space or burial chamber of a deceased person or people. A mausoleum without the person's remains is called a cenotaph. A mausoleum may be con ...
where
Saladin Yusuf ibn Ayyub ibn Shadi () ( – 4 March 1193), commonly known by the epithet Saladin,, ; ku, سه‌لاحه‌دین, ; was the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty. Hailing from an ethnic Kurds, Kurdish family, he was the first of both Egy ...
was buried is located in the gardens just outside the mosque. Sayyidah Ruqayya Mosque, the shrine of the youngest daughter of
Husayn ibn Ali Abū ʿAbd Allāh al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAlī ibn Abī Ṭālib ( ar, أبو عبد الله الحسين بن علي بن أبي طالب; 10 January 626 – 10 October 680) was a grandson of the Islamic prophet Muhammad in Islam, Muhammad and a ...
, can also be found near the Umayyad Mosque. The ancient district of Amara is also within a walking distance from these sites. Another heavily visited site is
Sayyidah Zaynab Mosque Sayyidah Zaynab Mosque ( ar, مَسْجِد ٱلسَّيِّدَة زَيْنَب, Masjid as-Sayyidah Zaynab) is a mosque located in the city of Sayyidah Zaynab, in the southern suburbs of Damascus )), is an adjective which means "spacious". , ...
, where the tomb of
Zaynab bint Ali Zaynab bint Ali ( ar, زَيْنَب بِنْت عَلِيّ, ', ), was the eldest daughter of Ali, the fourth Rashidun Caliphate, Rashidun caliph () and the first Imamate in Shia doctrine, Shia Imam, and Fatima, the daughter of the Muhammad, Is ...
is located. Shias, Fatemids and Dawoodi Bohras believe that after the battle of Karbala (680 AD), in Iraq, the Umayyad Caliph Yezid brought Imam Husain's head to Damascus, where it was first kept in the courtyard of Yezid Mahal, now part of Umayyad Mosque complex. All other remaining members of Imam Husain's family (left alive after Karbala) along with heads of all other companions, who were killed at Karbala, were also brought to Damascus. These members were kept as prisoners on the outskirts of the city (near
Bab al-Saghir ''Bāb aṣ-Ṣaghīr'' ( ar, بَـاب الـصَّـغِـيْـر, "Small Gate"), also called ''Goristan-e-Ghariban'', may refer to one of the seven gates in the Old City of Damascus, and street in the modern city of Damascus, Syria. It has ' ...
), where the other heads were kept at the same location, now called Ru’ûs ash-Shuhadâ-e-Karbala or ganj-e-sarha-e-shuhada-e-Karbala. There is a qibla (place of worship) marked at the place, where devotees say Imam Ali-Zain-ul-Abedin used to pray while in captivity. The Harat Al Yehud or Jewish Quarter is a recently restored historical tourist destination popular among Europeans before the outbreak of civil war.


Walls and gates of Damascus

The Old City of Damascus with an approximate area of 86.12 hectares is surrounded by ramparts on the northern and eastern sides and part of the southern side. There are seven extant city gates, the oldest of which dates back to the Roman period. These are, clockwise from the north of the citadel: * Bab al-Faradis ("the gate of the orchards", or "of the paradise") * Bab al-Salam ("the gate of peace"), all on the north boundary of the Old City * Bab Tuma ("Touma" or "Thomas's Gate") in the north-east corner, leading into the Christian quarter of the same name, *
Bab Sharqi Bab Sharqi ( ar, بَابٌ شَرْقِيٌّ, Bāb Šarqī; "The Eastern Gate"), also known as the Gate of the Sun, is one of the seven ancient city gate A city gate is a gate which is, or was, set within a city wall. It is a type of fortifi ...
("eastern gate") in the east wall, the only one to retain its Roman plan * Bab Kisan in the south-east, from which tradition holds that Saint Paul made his escape from Damascus, lowered from the ramparts in a basket; this gate has been closed and turned into Chapel of Saint Paul marking this event, *
Bab al-Saghir ''Bāb aṣ-Ṣaghīr'' ( ar, بَـاب الـصَّـغِـيْـر, "Small Gate"), also called ''Goristan-e-Ghariban'', may refer to one of the seven gates in the Old City of Damascus, and street in the modern city of Damascus, Syria. It has ' ...
(The Small Gate) *
Bab al-Jabiya Bab al-Jabiya ( ar, بَابُ الْجَابِيَّةِ, Bāb al-Jābīyah; ''Gate of the Water Trough'') is one of the seven ancient city-gates of Damascus, Syria. During the Roman era, the gate was dedicated to Mars (mythology), Mars. Bab al-Jab ...
at the entrance to Souk Midhat Pasha, in the south-west. Other areas outside the walled city also bear the name "gate": Bab al-Faraj, Bab Mousalla and Bab Sreija, both to the south-west of the walled city.


Churches in the old city

* Chapel of Saint Paul * House of Saint Ananias *
Mariamite Cathedral of Damascus The Mariamite Cathedral of Damascus, also known as the Maryamiyya Church ( ar, الكَنِيسَة المَرْيَمِيَّة, al-Kanīsah al-Maryamīyah), is one of the oldest Greek Orthodox churches in Damascus, Syria and holds the seat of t ...
* Cathedral of the Dormition of Our Lady * Saint John the Damascene Church * Saint Paul's Laura * Saint George's Syriac Orthodox Cathedral


Islamic sites in the old city

*
Umayyad Mosque The Umayyad Mosque ( ar, الجامع الأموي, al-Jāmiʿ al-Umawī), also known as the Great Mosque of Damascus ( ar, الجامع الدمشق, al-Jāmiʿ al-Damishq), located in the old city of Damascus, the capital of Syria, is one of the ...
, also known as the Great Mosque of Damascus * Sayyidah Ruqayya Mosque * Bab Saghir Cemetery * Mausoleum of Saladin * Nabi Habeel Mosque


Madrasas

* Al-Adiliyah Madrasa * Az-Zahiriyah Library *
Nur al-Din Madrasa The Nur al-Din Madrasa ( ar, الْمَدْرَسَةُ النُّورِيَّة, al-Madrasah an-Nūrīyah) is a funerary madrasa in Damascus, Syria. It is in the Suq al-Khayattin, inside the city walls. It was built in 1167 by Nūr ad-Dīn Zangī ...


Khans

*
Khan Jaqmaq Khan Jaqmaq ( ar, خَان جَقْمَق, Ḵān Jaqmaq) is one of the few remaining caravansary, khans in the Old City of Damascus, it was built by the Mamluk emir, Sayf ad-Din Jaqmaq who was governor of Damascus in 1418–20. It was rebuilt to a ...
*
Khan As'ad Pasha Khan As'ad Pasha ( ar, خَان أَسْعَد بَاشَا, Khān ʾAsʿad Bāşā) is the largest caravanserai () in the Old City of Damascus, Old City of Damascus, covering an area of . Situated along Al-Buzuriyah Souq, it was built and named af ...
*
Khan Sulayman Pasha Khan Sulayman Pasha ( ar, خَان سُلَيْمَان بَاشَا, Khān Sulaymān Bāşā) is a large caravansary, khan in the Old City of Damascus.


Old Damascene houses

*
Azm Palace Al-Azem Palace ( ar, قصر العظم) is a palace in Damascus, Syria, built in 1749. Located north of Al-Buzuriyah Souq in the Ancient City of Damascus, the palace was built in 1749 to be the private residence for As'ad Pasha al-Azem, the govern ...
, originally built in 1750 as the residence for the Ottoman governor of Damascus As'ad Pasha al-Azm, housing the Museum of Arts and Popular Traditions. * Bayt al-Aqqad. *
Maktab Anbar Maktab Anbar ( ar, مكتب عنبر) (Anbar Office) is a house in the center of Old Damascus )), is an adjective which means "spacious". , motto = , image_flag = Flag of Damascus.svg , image_seal ...
, a mid-19th-century Jewish private mansion, restored by the
Ministry of Culture Ministry of Culture may refer to: * Ministry of Tourism, Cultural Affairs, Youth and Sports (Albania) * Ministry of Culture (Algeria) * Ministry of Culture (Argentina) * Minister for the Arts (Australia) *Ministry of Culture (Azerbaijan) The Mini ...
in 1976 to serve as a library, exhibition center, museum and craft workshops. * Beit al-Mamlouka, a 17th-century Damascene house, serving as a luxury
boutique hotel Boutique hotels are small inventory, design driven, unique hotels with their own character, personality and storytelling at the heart of their concept. Positioning is secondary for these hotels as they focus on authenticity and personalization ...
within the old city since 2005.


Threats to the future of the old City

Due to the rapid decline of the population of Old Damascus (between 1995 and 2009 about 30,000 people moved out of the old city for more modern accommodation), a growing number of buildings are being abandoned or are falling into disrepair. In March 2007, the local government announced that it would be demolishing Old City buildings along a stretch of rampart walls as part of a redevelopment scheme. These factors resulted in the Old City being placed by the
World Monuments Fund World Monuments Fund (WMF) is a private, international, non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of historic architecture and cultural heritage sites around the world through fieldwork, advocacy, grantmaking, education, and trai ...
on its 2008 Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites in the world. It is hoped that its inclusion on the list will draw more public awareness to these significant threats to the future of the historic Old City of Damascus.


State of old Damascus

In spite of the recommendations of the
UNESCO The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a List of specialized agencies of the United Nations, specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) aimed at promoting world peace and security through international coope ...
World Heritage Center: * Souq al-Atiq, a protected buffer zone, was destroyed in three days in November 2006; * King Faysal Street, a traditional hand-craft region in a protected buffer zone near the walls of Old Damascus between the Citadel and ''Bab Touma'', is threatened by a proposed motorway. * In 2007, the
Old City of Damascus The Ancient City of Damascus ( ar, دِمَشْق ٱلْقَدِيمَة, Dimašq al-Qadīmah) is the historic city centre of Damascus, Syria. The old city which is one of the List of oldest continuously inhabited cities, oldest continuously inha ...
and notably the district of Bab Tuma have been recognized by The World Monument Fund as one of the most endangered sites in the world. In October 2010,
Global Heritage Fund Global Heritage Fund is a non-profit organization A nonprofit organization (NPO) or non-profit organisation, also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and opera ...
named Damascus one of 12 cultural heritage sites most "on the verge" of irreparable loss and destruction.


Education

Damascus is the main center of education in Syria. It is home to
Damascus University The University of Damascus ( ar, جَامِعَةُ دِمَشْقَ, ''Jāmi‘atu Dimashq'') is the largest and oldest university in Syria, located in the capital Damascus and has campuses in other Syrian cities. It was founded in 1923 through ...
, which is the oldest and largest university in Syria. After the enactment of legislation allowing private higher institutions, several new universities were established in the city and in the surrounding area, including: * Syrian Virtual University * International University for Science and Technology * Syrian Private University * Arab International University *
University of Kalamoon The University of Kalamoon ( ar, جامعة القلمون الخاصة) is a private, accredited university located in Deir Atiyah Deir Atiyah or Dayr Atiyah ( ar, ديرعطية) is a town in Syria, located between the Qalamoun Mountains and th ...
* Yarmouk Private University * Wadi International University * Al-Jazeera University * European University Damascus The institutes play an important rule in the education, including: * Higher Institute of Business Administration * Higher Institute for Applied Science and Technology * Higher Institute for Dramatic Arts * National Institute of Administration * Additional: ** Syrian International Academy for Training and Development


Transportation

Damascus is linked with other major cities in Syria via a modern motorway network. The M5 connects Damascus with
Homs Homs ( , , , ; ar, حِمْص / ALA-LC: ; Levantine Arabic: / ''Ḥomṣ'' ), known in pre-Islamic Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or سُورِيَة, translit=Sūriyā), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, الجمهور ...
,
Hama Hama ( ar, حَمَاة ', ; syr, ܚܡܬ, ħ(ə)mɑθ, lit=fortress; Biblical Hebrew: ''Ḥamāṯ'') is a city on the banks of the Orontes River in west-central Syria. It is located north of Damascus and north of Homs. It is the provincial ca ...
,
Aleppo )), is an adjective which means "white-colored mixed with black". , motto = , image_map = , mapsize = , map_caption = , image_map1 = ...
and Turkey in the north and Jordan in the south. The M1 is going from Homs onto
Latakia Latakia or Lattakia ( ar, ٱللَّاذْقِيَّة/ ٱللَّاذِقِيَّة, '; Syrian Arabic, Syrian pronunciation: ) is the principal port city of Syria and capital city of the Latakia Governorate located on the Mediterranean coast. Hi ...
and
Tartus ) , settlement_type = City , image_skyline = , imagesize = , image_caption = Tartus corniche  Port of Tartus • Tartus beach and boulevard  Cathedral of Our Lady of Tortosa • Al-Assad Stadium&n ...
. The M4 links the city with
Al-Hasakah Al-Hasakah ( ar, ٱلْحَسَكَة, al-Ḥasaka; ku, Heseke/حەسەکە; syr, ܚܣܝܟܐ Hasake), is the capital city of the Al-Hasakah Governorate, in the northeastern corner of Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or سُورِي ...
and Iraq. The M1 highway connects the city to the western Syria and
Beirut Beirut, french: Beyrouth is the capital and largest city of Lebanon Lebanon ( , ar, لُبْنَان, translit=lubnān, ), officially the Republic of Lebanon () or the Lebanese Republic, is a country in Western Asia. It is located b ...
. The main airport is , approximately away from the city, with connections to a few Middle Eastern cities. Before the beginning of the Syrian civil war, the airport had connectivity to many Asian, European, African, and, South American cities. Streets in Damascus are often narrow, especially in the older parts of the city, and speed bumps are widely used to limit the speed of vehicles. Many taxi companies operate in Damascus. Fares are regulated by law and taxi drivers are obliged to use a
taximeter A taximeter or fare meter is a mechanical or electronic device installed in taxicabs and auto rickshaws that calculates passenger fares based on a combination of distance travelled and waiting time. Its shortened form, "taxi", is also a metony ...
.
Public transport Public transport (also known as public transportation, public transit, mass transit, or simply transit) is a system of transport for passengers by group travel systems available for use by the general public unlike private transport, typical ...
in Damascus depends extensively on
buses A bus (contracted from omnibus, with variants multibus, motorbus, autobus, etc.) is a road vehicle that carries significantly more passengers than an average car or van. It is most commonly used in public transport, but is also in use for char ...
and
minibuses A minibus, microbus, minicoach, or commuter (in Zimbabwe) is a passenger-carrying motor vehicle that is designed to carry more people than a minivan, multi-purpose vehicle or minivan, but fewer people than a bus, full-size bus. In the United ...
. There are about one hundred lines that operate inside the city and some of them extend from the city center to nearby suburbs. There is no schedule for the lines, and due to the limited number of official bus stops, buses will usually stop wherever a passenger needs to get on or off. The number of buses serving the same line is relatively high, which minimizes the waiting time. Lines are not numbered, rather they are given captions mostly indicating the two end points and possibly an important station along the line. Between 2019 and 2022, more than 100 modern buses were delivered from
China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, most populous country, with a Population of China, population exceeding 1.4 billion, slig ...
as part of the international agreement. These deliveries strengthened and modernized the public transport of Damascus. Served by Chemins de Fer Syriens, the former main railway station of Damascus was al-Hejaz railway station, about west of the old city. The station is now defunct and the tracks have been removed, but there still is a ticket counter and a shuttle to Damacus Qadam station in the south of the city, which now functions as the main railway station. In 2008, the government announced a plan to construct a Damascus Metro. The green line will be an essential west–east axis for the future public transportation network, serving Moadamiyeh, Sumariyeh, Mezzeh, Damascus University, Hijaz, the Old City, Abbassiyeen and Qaboun Pullman bus station. A four-line metro network is expected be in operation by 2050.


Culture

Damascus was chosen as the 2008 Arab Capital of Culture. The preparation for the festivity began in February 2007 with the establishing of the Administrative Committee for "Damascus Arab Capital of Culture" by a presidential decree.


Museums

* National Museum of Damascus * Azem Palace * Military Museum * October War Panorama Museum * Museum of Arabic Calligraphy *
Nur al-Din Bimaristan Nur al-Din Bimaristan ( ar, البيمارستان النوري) is a large Muslim medieval ''bimaristan'' ("hospital") in Damascus, Syria. It is located in the al-Hariqa quarter in the old walled city, to the southwest of the Umayyad Mosque. It wa ...


Sports and leisure

Popular sports include
football Football is a family of team sports that involve, to varying degrees, Kick (football), kicking a Football (ball), ball to score a Goal (sport), goal. Unqualified, Football (word), the word ''football'' normally means the form of football tha ...
,
basketball Basketball is a team sport in which two teams, most commonly of five players each, opposing one another on a rectangular court, compete with the primary objective of shooting a basketball (approximately in diameter) through the defender' ...
, swimming, tennis, table tennis, equestrian and
chess Chess is a board game between two Player (game), players. It is sometimes called international chess or Western chess to distinguish it from chess variant, related games, such as xiangqi (Chinese chess) and shogi (Japanese chess). The current ...
. Damascus is home to many football clubs that participate in the
Syrian Premier League The Syrian Premier League ( ar, الدوري السوري الممتاز) is a professional association football league in Syria and the top division in of the Syrian football league system. The league comprises 12 teams and operates on a system ...
including al-Jaish,
al-Shorta Al-Shorta Sports Club ( ar, نادي الشرطة الرياضي, lit=''Police Sports Club'') is an Iraqi sports club A sports club or sporting club, sometimes an athletics club or sports society or sports association, is a group of peop ...
, Al-Wahda and Al-Majd. Many Other sport clubs are located in several districts of the city: Barada SC, Al-Nidal SC, Al-Muhafaza, Qasioun SC, al-Thawra SC, Maysalun SC, al-Fayhaa SC, Dummar SC, al-Majd SC and al-Arin SC. The fifth and the seventh
Pan Arab Games The Arab Games ( ar, الألعاب العربية), also called the Pan Arab Games, are a regional multi-sport event held between nations from the Arab world. They are organized by the Union of Arab National Olympic Committees. The first Game ...
were held in Damascus in 1976 and 1992 respectively. The now modernized Al-Fayhaa Sports City features a basketball court and a hall that can accommodate up to 8,000 people. In late November 2021, Syria's national basketball team played there against
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan, officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country located mainly in Central Asia and partly in Eastern Europe. It borders Russia to Kazakhstan–Russia border, the north and ...
, making Damascus host of Syria's first international basketball tournament in almost two decades. The city also has a modern golf course located near the Ebla Cham Palace Hotel at the southeastern outskirts of Damascus. Damascus has busy nightlife.
Coffeehouse A coffeehouse, coffee shop, or café is an establishment that primarily serves coffee of various types, notably espresso, latte, and cappuccino. Some coffeehouses may serve cold drinks, such as iced coffee and iced tea, as well as other non-caf ...
s offer
Arabic coffee Arabic coffee is a version of the brewed coffee of ''Coffea arabica'' beans. Most Arab world, Arab countries throughout the Middle East have developed distinct methods for brewing and preparing coffee. Cardamom is an often-added spice, but it can ...
,
tea Tea is an aromatic beverage prepared by pouring hot or boiling water over Curing (vegetable preservation), cured or fresh leaves of ''Camellia sinensis'', an evergreen shrub native to East Asia which probably originated in the borderlands of ...
and nargileh (water pipes).
Card game A card game is any game using playing cards as the primary device with which the game is played, be they traditional or game-specific. Countless card games exist, including families of related games (such as poker). A small number of card ga ...
s,
tables Table may refer to: * Table (furniture), a piece of furniture with a flat surface and one or more legs * Table (landform), a flat area of land * Table (information), a data arrangement with rows and columns * Table (database), how the table data ...
(
backgammon Backgammon is a two-player board game Board games are tabletop games that typically use . These pieces are moved or placed on a pre-marked board (playing surface) and often include elements of Tabletop game, table, Card game, card, Role-pla ...
variants), and
chess Chess is a board game between two Player (game), players. It is sometimes called international chess or Western chess to distinguish it from chess variant, related games, such as xiangqi (Chinese chess) and shogi (Japanese chess). The current ...
are activities frequented in cafés. These coffeehouses have had in the past an international reputation, as indicated by
Letitia Elizabeth Landon Letitia Elizabeth Landon (14 August 1802 – 15 October 1838) was an English poet and novelist, better known by her initials L.E.L. The writings of Landon are transitional between Romanticism and the Victorian Age. Her first major breakthrough ...
's poetical illustration, ''Cafes in Damascus'', to a picture by William Henry Bartlett in Fisher's Drawing Room Scrap Book, 1837. Current movies can be seen at Cinema City which was previously known as Cinema Dimashq. Tishreen Park is one of the largest parks in Damascus. It is home to the annual Damascus Flower Show. Other parks include: al-Jahiz, al-Sibbki, al-Tijara, al-Wahda, etc.. The city's famous
Ghouta Ghouta ( ar, غُوطَةُ دِمَشْقَ / ALA-LC: ''Ḡūṭat Dimašq'') is a countryside and suburban area in southwestern Syria that surrounds the city of Damascus along its eastern and southern rim. Name Ghouta is the Arabic term (''gh ...
oasis is also a weekend-destination for recreation. Many recreation centers operate in the city including sport clubs, swimming pools and golf courses. The Syrian Arab Horse Association in Damascus offers a wide range of activities and services for horse breeders and riders.


Nearby attractions

* Madaya: a small mountainous town well known holiday resort. * Bloudan: a town located north-west of the Damascus, its moderate temperature and low humidity in summer attracts many visitors from Damascus and throughout Syria, Lebanon and the
Persian Gulf The Persian Gulf ( fa, خلیج فارس, translit=xalij-e fârs, lit=Gulf of Persis, Fars, ), sometimes called the ( ar, اَلْخَلِيْجُ ٱلْعَرَبِيُّ, Al-Khalīj al-ˁArabī), is a Mediterranean sea (oceanography), me ...
. * Zabadani: a city in close to the border with Lebanon. Its mild weather along with the scenic views, made the town a popular resort both for tourists and for visitors from other Syrian cities. * Maaloula: a town dominated by speakers of Western Neo-Aramaic. * Saidnaya: a city located in the mountains,
above sea level Height above mean sea level is a measure of the Vertical position, vertical distance (height, elevation or altitude) of a location in reference to a historic mean sea level taken as a vertical datum. In geodesy, it is formalized as ''orthometric h ...
, it was one of the episcopal cities of the ancient
Patriarchate of Antioch Patriarch of Antioch is a traditional title held by the bishop of Church of Antioch, Antioch (modern-day Antakya, Turkey). As the traditional "overseer" (ἐπίσκοπος, ''episkopos'', from which the word ''bishop'' is derived) of the first ...
.


Twin towns – sister cities

*
Ankara Ankara ( , ; ), historically known as Ancyra and Angora, is the list of national capitals, capital of Turkey. Located in the Central Anatolia Region, central part of Anatolia, the city has a population of 5.1 million in its urban center ...
, Turkey *
Astana Astana, previously known as Akmolinsk, Tselinograd, Akmola, and most recently Nur-Sultan, is the capital city of Kazakhstan. The city lies on the banks of the Ishim (river), Ishim River in the north-central part of Kazakhstan, within the Akmo ...
, Kazakhstan *
Bucharest Bucharest ( , ; ro, București ) is the capital and largest city of Romania Romania ( ; ro, România ) is a country located at the crossroads of Central Europe, Central, Eastern Europe, Eastern, and Southeast Europe, Southeastern Eu ...
, Romania *
Buenos Aires Buenos Aires ( or ; ), officially the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires ( es, link=no, Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires), is the Capital city, capital and primate city of Argentina. The city is located on the western shore of the Río de la Plata ...
, Argentina * Córdoba, Spain *
Dubai Dubai (, ; ar, wikt:دبي, دبي, translit=Dubayy, , ) is the List of cities in the United Arab Emirates#Major cities, most populous city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the capital of the Emirate of Dubai, the most populated of the 7 ...
, United Arab Emirates *
Istanbul Istanbul ( , ; tr, İstanbul ), formerly known as Constantinople ( grc-gre, Κωνσταντινούπολις; la, Constantinopolis), is the List of largest cities and towns in Turkey, largest city in Turkey, serving as the country's economic, ...
, Turkey * Toledo, Spain *
Yerevan Yerevan ( , , hy, Երևան , sometimes spelled Erevan) is the capital and largest city of Armenia Armenia (), , group=pron officially the Republic of Armenia,, is a landlocked country in the Armenian Highlands of Western Asia.The ...
, Armenia


Notable people from Damascus


See also

* Damascus Document *
List of World Heritage in Danger The List of World Heritage in Danger is compiled by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) through the World Heritage Committee according to Article 11.4 of the World Heritage Convention,Full title: ''Conv ...


Notes


References


Bibliography

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *


External links

*
Map of Damascus, 1929
Eran Laor Cartographic Collection, The National Library of Israel

{{Authority control Cities in Syria Levant Sufi Muslim communities in Syria Capitals in Asia Amarna letters locations Archaeological sites in Rif Dimashq Governorate Capitals of caliphates Populated places along the Silk Road Populated places established in the 7th millennium BC World Heritage Sites in Danger New Testament cities