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My trip to Syria part 2 - unseen secrets of Old Damascus (200+ pictures)


mtlurb

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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

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    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 :-)

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    The almighty Minister of Finance... aka Mafia.

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    My host in his '78 Mercedes annoyed by my too many pics... he hasn't seen nothing yet.

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    The usual 3 lanes become 6 lanes traffic in Syria.

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    More fountains...

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    Notice the fruits on the left, that guy makes amazing fresh pressed juice... I was always having one

    too... 25sp or 50 cents.

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    That's the most important commercial street in Damascus, the mazout deliverer and his horse

    perfectly blend.

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    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.

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    A roundabout, very common.

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    Another common sight... ok maybe not, a fellah wit his lamb :-)

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    A vestige of old railroad tracks.

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    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.

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    A viaduc.

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    Thats the old central station.

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    Good luck in getting in.

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    Can't remember what was that building.

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    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)

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    Market (Souq) al-Hamidiyya and Roman ruins

    So we wanted to visit Al Hamidiyya, unique I confess, and encolsed in Old Damascus.

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    These are the walls of Old Damascus.

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    Thats the new part of the markt... not intresting.

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    That guy on the left doesn't seem to like being taken in a picture :-)

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    Here we are... it is encolsed by roof. This is the prime spot of the Sook (which spans on many many

    blocks).

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    Secondary streets where the sook spans.

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    Stores are specialized, no Wal Mart here.

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    Shisha galore...

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    A jewler display.

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    More shishas...

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    At the end of that stretch... out of nowhere we find ignored Roman vestige. Its kind of plaza... so

    the next pictures are at the same spot.

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    Exterior wall of th Omeyyad Mosque - Jean Baptiste is buried there.

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    Babooj (Sandals) "factory"

    Look at what we found while entering a lost door, its a babooj factory, sandals out of wood. I

    was blown away... that shop except for the machinery looked like it came out from the medieval ages.

    The pictures give a brighter look to the place... it was really dark in there.

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    I don't know where they're getting their hard wood from, there's barely any forests in Syria... let

    alone near Damascus.

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    That guy was so proud to see us taking picture, that he took off his hat to look good in them :) He

    said show Canada how we make real Baboojs hehehe...

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    His partner...

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    Every babooj is unique... i don't know if thats a good thing :-)

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    What a waste of wood......

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    Omeyyad mosque, Saint John the Baptist toomb & Saladin's Shrine

    The Omeyyad mosque was a big Church built by the Romans, Arabs took it and converted it into a

    giant Mosque.

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    Here's where Saladin is burried... you know that guy from the movie last year ;-)

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    wow... no one cares, its just laying there.

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    Thats the interior court of th Mosque. We had to take of our shoes and walk with our socks... kind

    of cold. Our female friend had to cover herself and was almost jumped on when her head scarf fell

    when she bended backward to take a picture.

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    High ceilings...

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    Lots of pigeon.

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    nice nice...

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    These are not drawings but Mosaiques...

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    Roman mixed with Arabic.

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    Splendid.

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    Majestic.

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    Ageless lantern retrofitted to hold a halogen lamp :)

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    wow... all mosaics

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    Inside of the Mosque. A bit of relief for our feet because of the tapistry.

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    Colored glass... like the Palais des Congrès in Montréal ;-)

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    More Roman.

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    A very high dome... wow.

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    Here's Saint Jean the Baptist toomb... its a shrine to Muslims too.

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    This is where the Mollah installs himself to recite the prayer... he looks inward and the

    semi-cylindrical form helps project his voice to the back where the fidels pray.

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    Books, lots of them, old too.

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    This looks very very old.

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    Again Market (Souq) al-Hamidiyya and Governor Azem's

     

    We got out of the Mosque and we headed to Governor Azem's palace in Old Damascus.On our way we

    passed more secondary commercial streets...

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    Those streets are covered by vigns in the summer.

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    Thats a Mosque wall, which used to be a Church, and thats a carving of the Christ which was

    defigured by zealous fidels.

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    All the spices you want are there..

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    more...

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    ... and the candies...

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    ... and the perfumes... well these guys are the real thing, you tell them which perfume you want and

    they make it with the essences... or you can have a custom made one too ;-)

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    Here's the palace entrance... which was restored by the French when the country was occupied in the

    40s.

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    Sadly, nothing seems to have changed since...

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    I wasn't allowed to take pictures inside the rooms... but I managed to take some blurry ones :-)

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    Oranges :)

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    Lilas........

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    The palace map...

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    The Governor's garden.

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    This one liked me alot :-)

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    Inside the turkish baths... again no pics allowed.

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    almost banged my head... and I'm not that tall... people were shorter.

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    iiiiish... the room of the mother in law... run run.

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    The Kings room.

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    The view when the King sat on his thrown.

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    His cariage... a

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    Leaving old Damascus

     

    On my way out of Old Damascus, a very complex maze of very tight streets. You could get lost

    easily.

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    Yes people do live here.

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    Mickey Mouse rules Damascus ;-)

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    Thats how narrow are the passages... and every wall is part of a dwelling.

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    French vestige?

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    We decided to make a detour and get inside a good restaurant... but we didn't eat there.

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    Kids on a field trip... they were amazed by the camera and wanted me to take their picss!!! as if

    they have never been taken in pics.

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    A buffet...

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    Deserts and fruits.

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    Antiquities... alot of them in Syria, too much for Syrians to handle... so they sell them to

    tourists.

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    If you love antiquities... you'll be served.

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    Nice...

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    A Catholic Armenian Church, lots of Christians still live in Old Damascus.

     

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    Schumacher rules :-)

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    Thats Bab Tooma... one of the doors to get inside Old Damascus.

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    Here's the biggest river in Damascus................ sad how polluted it is...

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    This guy tells me, who cares about the river, take my picture. One of the hordes of lottery seller,

    the grand prize for NYE was 30 million syrian pounds... or about 750K $. Every 10 meters you would

    either see one or hear one... The worst is that if I ever win, I cannot take that money outside of Syria.....

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    the other side of the river... on the left notice the slums.

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    Très gentille institute... hheeheheeh

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    Now we're talking, nothing beats a shish taouk :-)

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    Yeah they wear no gloves and touch your food with their bare hands, get used to it you're in Syria.

    ;-)

    Stay tuned for more about Damascus, Aleppo, Beirut, .....

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    WOW, c'est vraiment beau. Moi qui n'est pas d'origine arabe et qui n'est jamais allé dans un pays arabe....c'est encore plus impressionnant. C'est vraiment beau. Il semble y avoir un culte de la personnalité, il y a beaucoup de portrait sur les édifices gouvernementaux. C'est quand même fou de voir le présent et le passé se mêler comme ça. Ce que je trouve le plus triste dans tes images c'est certains joyaux d'architecture comme les ruines romaine qui tombent en décripitude comme ça et j'espère qu'il ne vont pas faire l'ereur de détruire certaines d'entre elles dans le futur. Par contre ce que j'aime le plus c'est les petites rues du marché et la mosquée qui est juste magnifique.

     

    On voit enfin la vrai Syrie et pas celle que les médias nous présentent souvent à la télé.

    Est-ce que tu pense que la Syrie est encore aujourd'hui un pays sécuritaire à visité pour un étranger, malgré tout ce qu'on entend dans les nouvelles et la tension avec l'occident et le Liban?

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