Damascus is not what I expected. The streets here are full of kids running around, couples holding hands, youngsters smoking cigarettes and listening to music. Its quite the opposite of what I had imagined before coming here. Its a very joyful and lively place. The whole week i have been here it has felt as safe as any other city in Turkey, Lebanon or Iran and in the city center there is no damage or signs of the war that has been going on in this country for seven years now.
Outside the oldest café in the oldest city km the World
Damascus is the oldest continuisly inhabited city in the World, dating back at least 11 000 years. Umayyad Mosque was built around 3000 years ago and has served as a temple for Hadad (the storm god), then for the roman god of Jupiter, later as a church dedicated to John the baptist and then it finally became a mosque in the year 634AD. Today its considered the fourth holiest place in islam.
Outside the mosque you will find the beginning of Souq al Hamidyya (the old market) which continues all the way up to Al Thawra street where a ancient roman Temple of jupiter stands and marks the entrance of the Souq and the Damascus citadel.
The Bab al Sharqi gate
All in all there are seven gates to the citadel. Bab Ash-Sharqi and Bab Touma are famous for its night life and on straight street you will find bars with live music, like the marine bar where I stayed until late night and walked home from alone in the night.
I would say that the biggest problem in Damascus now is the trash laying on the streets and that electricity cuts are freequent (probably power about 10hrs a day). I also asked people to take me to the place where the battles had been previously, and they took me to the Al Hajar Al Aswar district, 10 kilometers South of the city where there were small damages a residential area that had been occupied by ISIS, also about ten kilometers North between the Karajat bus station and the Al Biruni University Hospital had been completely flattened by airstrikes.
I went to Cham Palace hotel for breakfast (approx 7usd) to get a good view from the city from the top and could not see any destroyed buildings like the ones I saw in Aleppo.
The lobby of Cham Palace Hotel
Another place famous for its view over the city is Mount Qasioun, and I will see if I can get there tomorrow on my last day in Damascus.
I must say that I love Damascus