Syria is, like most of the countries in the middle
east, full of history and antiquity. Many civilisations have flourished in this
region over thousands of years. Syria today is a fascinating place to visit,
full of dark Roman ruins and busy markets.
We visited Syria in October 1998, staying with
family friends in an apartment in Damascus. Our friends' driver was very helpful
during our stay and drove us around most of the country. However, like most Syrians
his driving was a little below par, as demonstrated when he drove up the down sliproad
onto a motorway, and then straight over the central reservation to get to the other
This is what some of Damascus was like, quite similar
to the old medinas in
but most of the city was more modernised and built up.
The main roads in Damascus have six lanes of traffic each way, but the industrious
drivers squeeze nine cars
side by side as they charge along to a ten lane unregulated
Here is the Umayyad Great Mosque, the largest and most important
that we visited in Damascus. Inside the huge hall were hundreds of Persian rugs
all woven together to create a wall-to-wall moster carpet masterpiece. The little
grim reaper next to me is my sister, who had to keep in line with Muslim dress for
Another Mosque we visited was an Iranian one, which
this picture unfortunately doesn't do justice to. Each vault in the roof was encrusted
in little pieces of mirrored glass which all reflected and sparkled off each other. It was like
looking up into a giant glitterball.
Krak des Chevaliers is a fine example of Crusader
architecture, a superb fortress full of tunnels to be explored. Whilst driving up
here the road (which was very busy and not unlike the M8 in Glasgow) seemed to disappear.
The traffic seemed unphased, and we just kept on trukkin' over the hard packed desert
sand, with lorryloads of soldiers heading for Turkey passing by, until the road reappeared
after a few miles. Weird.
This is part of the largest temple in Palmira,
an ancient and once important trading post right in the middle of the Syrian desert.
The temple has been brought down gradually by attacks and earthquakes since it was
built around the 2nd century AD.
This shot gives a clue as to why Palmira was so
important - it was the only water source for many miles, a positively lush oasis
in the middle of the baking desert.