Damascus, believed to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, is the capital and the largest city of Syria.
The Syrian Arab Republic is located in western Asia, bordered by Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the west, Israel and Jordan to the south, Iraq to the west and Turkey to the north. Damascus (Dimashq in Arabic), often referred to as the ‘pearl of the East’, is located to the southwest of the country, not far from its border with Lebanon. This great city stands in an oasis on the banks of River Barada. One of the major centers of culture and political administration in the Levant, Damascus is also a UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Currently, the city has a population of about 1.71 million, a figure that has been steadily on the rise since the start of the ongoing civil war.
The city of Damascus is believed to have been established in the 3rd millennium BC and by the mid first century AD had grown into an important seat of power. It was conquered by many dynasties and empires, continuously retaining its importance through the centuries. In 1941 with Syria gaining independence from French rule, Damascus became the capital of the country.
Damascus is a veritable treasure trove for tourists and students of culture and history. The ancient Umayyad Mosque, the stately Azm Palace, the Mausoleum of Saladin, the great bath of Khan As’ad Pasha, the citadel of Damascus, the National Museum, the Midhat Pasha Souq, and the Temple of Jupiter are a few of the many attractions of the city. Many nations, however, have issued travel advisories discouraging citizens from traveling to the city and to other parts of Syria due to the civil war.