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Why is Damascus Known as The City of Jasmine?

by Sue Lee on 21/03/10 at 10:37 am

Get to know more about this place in Syria.

Damascus is the capital and the largest city of Syria. It is the oldest continuously inhabited city on the world, and this assures you that the city is unique in a way that no other city could be.

The Umayyad Mosque is Damascus’ most prominent landmark. Also known as the Grand Mosque of Damascus, it is one of the oldest and largest mosques in the world. It is one of the few big mosques around the world that permits visitors but women are asked to cover their hair and hands. This mosque used to be a Greek temple, a Roman temple, a church, then a mosque and a church together.

Close to the Umayyad Mosque is the Souq al-Hamidiyya. It is a night market where you can find almost anything you want. The best part is, haggling is allowed! Smells of spices fill the air as you enter the night market through columns of a Roman temple. Hawkers peddle goods ranging from scarves, copper goods and mosaic boxes.

If you would like to see a statue of Salah al-Din or more commonly known as Saladin, there is a huge statue of him on a horseback at the Mausoleum of Salah al-Din. Under the horse’s tail, there are two dejected Frankish knights who have been captured during Saladin’s victory at Hattin. The October War Panorama is also a good place for knowing more on the country that you are in. built with the help of the North Korean government, you can find a military hardware exhibit.

When your feet are all tired and weary, you have to take a bath in the Hammam (Turkish bath). Two more popular places are the Nur-al-Din Bath (for men only) and the Bakri Bath (open to women everyday except Fridays). When dusk approaches, head to the peak of Mount Qasioun for a spectacular view of the entire city. Lights adorn the city and you can see the minarets of the mosque lighted up as well.

When your tummy calls for a meal, be sure to try out the famous vegetarian falafel sandwich and the manakeesh, which is bread filled with spinach, meat, tomatoes, cheese, zatar and other fillings. A local favourite is the fatteh, made up of soaked bread, chickpeas and yogurt. You can try it with lamb or sheep’s tongue if you like to add more bite to your meal. Shawarma is also very popular in Damascus with offerings of either chicken or lamb shawarma. And finally for the adventurous, there is camel kebab which you definitely can’t miss as there will be camel’s heads hanging outside premises that offer this unique cuisine!

Hanging out in Damascus is a nice thing to do. There are Hooka cafes where you can take a smoke from a wide variety of flavoured tobacco. Or just enjoy a cup of tea, mate (a popular caffeinated beverage made from Yerba mate) or Turkish coffee while watching the crowd go by and absorbing the flavours of the Damascene city!

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