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Syria honeymoon

Diversity, hospitality, and the world's oldest inhabited city 

Syria Today

It lies at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea.

Turkey is on the north, Iraq on the east and southeast, Jordan on the south, Palestine on the southeast, and Lebanon on the west.

Syria can be divided into five distinct touristic regions with varying features and terrain:

In the west there is a 175 km coastline and mountains divided into two ranges standing opposite each other:

- The eastern range, stretching along the Syrian-Lebanon border and called Eastern Mount Lebanon, wherein Mount Hermon constitutes the highest peak rising to some 2814 metre and covered with a year-long snow.
- The western range, called Western Mount Lebanon, extends to the northern part of the Syrian coastline where it is known as the Latakia Mountain, and is covered with thickets and forests.
The Orontes river flows between thee two ranges and creates a fertile valley extending north to Homs, Hama, and the Aleppo plains.
- The central part of Syria is covered by what is known as the al-Cham desert (Al-Badia) where plains and pasture lands lend an unusual charm to a vast terrain of sand rock. In the middle of this lies the famous oasis of Palmyra.
- North of the desert there is huge fertile basin formed by the Euphrates River whose source is in Turkish territory. It crosses Syria diagonally in the north-east to exit into Iraqi territory, having been fed by two tributaries in Syria, namely the Khabour and Balikh rivers. On the Syrian part of the Euphrates rises a great dam which forms the 80 km-long al-Assad Lake. In this part of the basin, there are several mountains, and some newly-discovered oil-fields.
- In the south-west, the Ghuta forms a green belt of orchards and farm which surround the capital, Damascus, full of fruit trees.
- Through this region runs the river Barada, which the Romans called "The Golden River".
- Its spring is in Zabadani, a summer resort near Damascus. The river flows through miles of meadows and orchards, then branches into seven small rivers before reaching Damascus.
- In the south, Jabal al-Arab forms the greater part of the region with its hills, volcanic rocks, historic cities, and rich vineyards. The vast plain of Houran and the Golan Heights form the remainder of this region, and have long been the most fertile part of it along the borders with Lebanon and Palestine.

The Syrian Coast

The Syrian coast consists of long stretches of beach and green mountains. These mountains are mostly covered with pine and oak trees, and their slopes touch shore. This landscape repeats itself from Ras al-Basit in the north to Tartus in the south. On the mountains are scattered villages and towns with springs of clear mineral water.

Summer resorts and historical spots

The Syrian seashore is about 175 km long, and its numerous beaches are distinguished by soft sand, unpolluted sea, moderate climate and clear blue sky.

The coastal summer resorts in Syria are numerous. Scattered on the hills and mountains near the sea, they boast fresh air, cool weather in summer and moderate weather in winter.

Some of these summer resorts are:

Slenfeh
Kasab
Salma
Draykish
Misyaf
Wadi al-Oyyun
Safita

By Neil Carey (Flickr: St. George's Monastery) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

History is Alive

When you enter an old souk (bazaar) in Syria, you will realize that history is something alive and tangible, something you can see, touch and smell. In Damascus, if you walk down the Street called Straight (Midhat Pasha), you might feel that you were walking alongside Saul of Tarsus, suddenly transformed into St Paul on seeing the light of faith, the light on "the road to Damascus".

The glass-blower at their brick furnaces, might remind you of their predecessors, who first invented coloured glass 3,000 years ago. In the thirteenth century, two Italian brothers came to Syria to learn the skill of glass-blowing, which they took back to Venice, and started fashioning "Venetian" glass.

A journey through a Syrian town is a journey into both the past and the present at the same time. You might happen on a Roman arch, built centuries before Christ, under which you might find a shop selling the latest electronic gadgets. Or you may pass on Ottoman caravanserai, bustling under its evocative Arabesque designs with present-day commercial activity.

Damascus, the world's oldest inhabited city, contains Greek ruins built over Aramean temples, and minarets rising over Crusader remains. The Omayyad mosque, a great edifice of Islamic civilization, became a prototype of Islamic architecture, from Spain to Samarcand.

In Aleppo, a grand fortress rises before you, on the very mount where, in the year 2,000 BC, Abraham is said to have milked his cow, giving the site of the city its name, Halab (in Arabic "to milk"). The long, winding stone bazaar of Aleppo is one of the most beautiful in the East, replete with locally-famous coloured silk scarves, perfumes, and soaps still made to ancient recipes.

By Bernard Gagnon (Own work) [GFDL (<a href=&/quot;http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html" class="external free" rel="nofollow">http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html</a>) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

On the northern coast, your imagination can wander back unhindered by the modern ships you see- to those early sailors who set forth from this very shore, taking their coloured glass, their cloth of gold, their carved wood, and their alphabet to the far-flung regions of the known world.

The villages of Syria, whether they nestle in mountain valleys, or cluster along the coast, or border a great desert, are unique in their traditions and in the native costumes of their inhabitants. Maaloula, a village not far from Damascus where the houses are carved out of the mountain stone, still speaks Aramaic, the language of Jesus Christ.

Syria is often described as the largest small country in the world because of its wealth of ancient civilizations. Modern man is indebted to this land for much of his thought and learning. Therefore it is properly said that every cultured man belongs to two nations - his own and Syria.

Syria: a land of diversity

Beside being the cradle of many and varied civilizations, Syria is also a land of an assortment of landscapes.

An hour's drive will take you from fields of wheat and cotton to vineyard and olive trees, to pomegranate and palm-tree oases, to daisy and oleander meadows. On the sea-shore to the north. You can watch the Mediterranean's white waves, while in the golden desert you will see a deluge of wild flowers in spring.

As a result, this wealth of historical sites and landscapes offers the visitors a wide variety of tourism: Eco-tourism, rural tourism, religious tourism, cultural tourism, desert tourism, camping, etc.

All this has attracted many regional and international associations of professionals (doctors, jurists, pharmacists, dentists, architects, etc.) to hold their convention in Syria which provides the best facilities for such activities and offers at the same time the conventioneers an opportunity to enjoy the pleasure of touring the country.

National Character

Syrians are refreshingly open and hospitable towards foreigners. "AHLAN WA SAHLAN" Is an oft-repeated phrase in Syria. It means, "You are welcome". And visitors to a Syrian home are genuinely and sincerely welcome, for according to a centuries-old tradition, the guest is considered a sacred trust.

Whether you visit a Bedouin's tent in the desert, or the palatial villa of a city dweller, or a farmer's mud-brick home, you will be warmly greeted with many polite phrases of welcome and served the traditional coffee or tea which is a symbol of Arab hospitality.

Even shopkeepers, while you are dealing with them, may offer you a tiny cup of Arabic coffee, a glass of mint tea, or lemonade.

As for the farewell it is like a benediction, it is "MA ASSALAMAH": "May you go in peace".

In the desert and eastern province

Al-Hasakeh

This far north-east corner of Syria is a distant governorate stretching from the Tigris River to the Euphrates River. It is distinguished by its fertile lands, plentiful water, picturesque nature, many important archaeological sites and more than one hundred historical tals (hills). The most famous are:

Tal Halaf: Where excavations have revealed successive civilization levels and beautiful basalt sculptures.

Tal Brak: Which is situated halfway between al-Hasakeh city and the frontier town of al-Qamishli.
Excavations in the tal have revealed the Uyun Temple and King Naram Sin palace.

Tal Hittin: Where 15 civilization layers have been identified.

Tal Lilan: where excavations have begun in 1975 and have revealed many findings dating back to the 6th millennium b.C. such as the Bazaar, the Temple, the Palace, etc.
It is well known that the banks of al-Khabour River, which flows through al-Hasakeh for 440 km, witnessed the birth of the earliest civilization of the world.

Raqqa

Located on the left bank of the Euphrates between Aleppo (188 km) and Deir al-Zor (105 km). It is an ancient city built by Alexander the Great in the 4th century B.C. In 662 the Caliph Mansur built, on the ruins of Raqqa, a new city imitating the style of Baghdad which he called "Rafiqa". Invaded by the Mongols in the 12th century. Raqqa has few remains left from that period. These were built by the Caliph Harun al-Rashid in the Abbasside age. Some remains of ancient Raqqa survive today. Those built in pink tile reflect a particular style of architecture.
Of the Jam'I al-Kabir (the Great Mosque), there remains only the minaret, which was reconstructed by Nur al-Din in 1166. Pottery and glass were famous and there is a museum in the city which contains many relics of ancient Raqqa. A lot of these relics can also be seen in museums in New York, Washington and other Western cities.

Raqqa is beginning to flourish again, and to play an important economic role (after the building of the Euphrates Dam) in the life of Modern Syria.

The Syrian cuisine

The Syrian cuisine is varied and rich, in view of the fertility of Syrian lands and the abundance of their crops which enable the cook to be a master and to diversify in his choice and talent in the preparation of fresh meals made of vegetables, legumes and meats.The Syrian table is always decorated with the various delicious pastries famous all over the world. Travelers do not miss to take with them on their leaving the country samples of these sweets to give them as presents to their dear friends and family members. These desserts are followed by fresh or dried fruits grown in Syrian fields.

Health concerns are also cared for through the Syrian fresh and pure mineral waters gushing from mountain tops.

Source: www.syriatourism.org

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