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Old Damascus is quite unique, it is enclosed by very high walls and it can only be accessed by very few doors ( i believe 7 of them). Streets are never wider than the width of two cars, and most of them are unmapped and wide enough for one person to pass. Old Damascus is composed of a good sized Christian Minority, and you can find packed Churches on Sundays and other Holidays. Old Damascus is the heart of the oldest still inhabited city in the world, Damascus goes back to over 4000 years before Christ. So I'm not going to spoil any surprises, check the pics and some commentaries... i tried to be as concise as possible, but if you do have questions, just ask. If you haven't checked the first part: Going to Old Damascus There's no detached houses in Damascus, its all 3-4-5 stories with no elevator. Thats why you don't see many fat Syrians :-) The almighty Minister of Finance... aka Mafia. My host in his '78 Mercedes annoyed by my too many pics... he hasn't seen nothing yet. The usual 3 lanes become 6 lanes traffic in Syria. More fountains... Notice the fruits on the left, that guy makes amazing fresh pressed juice... I was always having one too... 25sp or 50 cents. That's the most important commercial street in Damascus, the mazout deliverer and his horse perfectly blend. The almighty Commercial Bank of Syria... the biggest fiasco I've ever witnessed in my life... it takes maybe 5 or 6 signatures to cash in a regular cheque (45 minutes)... to bad I couldn't take any pics inside. A roundabout, very common. Another common sight... ok maybe not, a fellah wit his lamb :-) A vestige of old railroad tracks. Thats a movie theatre... look at those sexy women. BTW, going to the movies in Syria is seen as a bad thing by the masses. A viaduc. Thats the old central station. Good luck in getting in. Can't remember what was that building. Thats the telegraph and communication central... if you want a phone line, you go there. (the waiting list for a phone line was so long that we got it nearly 10 years after we already moved to Canada) Market (Souq) al-Hamidiyya and Roman ruins So we wanted to visit Al Hamidiyya, unique I confess, and encolsed in Old Damascus. These are the walls of Old Damascus. Thats the new part of the markt... not intresting. That guy on the left doesn't seem to like being taken in a picture :-) Here we are... it is encolsed by roof. This is the prime spot of the Sook (which spans on many many blocks). Secondary streets where the sook spans.
I feel a bit nostalgic, last year in December I went to visit my home country for the first time since coming to Montréal. I was shocked the moment I entered the "International" Airport of Damascus, I knew right away I was in a different planet. I thought that my initial shock would pass away, but no, it went from one shock to another. When I left Syria I was 7 years old, and I remember barely anything from there, while being born in Aleppo (second largest city), I lived all my life in a small town (300k) by the name of Al Qamishly on the border with Turkey and near Iraq. That city became slowly invaded by poor and restless Kurds. Everyone was telling me that Damascus was beautiful, modern, etc... well I can tell you that after seeing what Damascus was all about, I was not so thrilled to see the smaller towns and villages. Oh well, here's the tale in pictures of a spoiled Montrealer in Syria: First signs of western influence, laughed my ass off:) It is believed there's something like 4000 mosque in Damascus alone... thats alot of highrises THis is the Parlimant of the Syrian Republic... I took the pic without being noticed by the secret service dudes near me in an unmarked white car:D A pedestrian only street, you can shop all you want My host, Roudain One of the most if not most important shopping streets in Damascus The almighty Ministry of Economy and Trade... aka Mafia ...err Club not Clup Steets in eternal old Damascus: In Montreal we call that a ruelle, but its almost ten time smaller... yes people do live here Notice the black exterior walls, they were white but because of the pollution they became black.... Satelite dishes paradise....... Notice the mountain in the background and the dark area at its bottom... the dark is in reality savage construction done everywhere without any control or restraint... sad, imagine the Mont-Royal like that... Commie blocks Thats inside a restaurant on top of the mountain, sadly its empty because no one goes out in "winter" The patio... Damascus at night from the mountain Day one is over, i will post more in the coming days...