stranger in Syria (before the current war)

On my trip to Syria I decided to make some free sketches besides the photos, which are published in this post for the first time. We moved to Syria from Lebanon (more about Lebanon another time). To  Syria we went, traveling in a cab, an old Russian Volga. Our luggage was on the roof baggage rack on the top of the car, and we were with five people and a driver inside. As soon as we passed the border the trip became really cosy, because our guide, who waited there for us, wanted to drive with us, and seven people in a Volga is pretty crowded.

I visited Syria end of October, start November 2007. With the Volga we drove to the outskirts of Damascus, where we changed to two city cabs to go into the city centre. In Damascus we visited the national museum, the khan and of course the beautiful Omayyad mosque. Damascus is a beautiful and relaxed city. Often you are invited for a cup of tea in a store when you have interest to buy something, very nice people!

different impression of station of the orient, souks and Omayyad mosque. IMG_7804


After Damascus we went to Palmyra where we visited the valley of tombs, with the tower-tomb of Elabel, hereafter we went to the classical site (ruins)of the city where we saw the beautiful colonnades, old city entrances, a theater and a wonderful sunset.

By the route of Homs we went to a beautiful little town which is absolutely worth visiting: Hama, well known for its noria’s (watermills). Hama has a lovely town center with narrow streets with lots of children in it!

different impression of tomb of Elabel, pillar of Simeon, noria in Hama and Krak de chevaliers.

On our way to Aleppo we visited Qalat Semaan,  where the church of St Simeon Stylites is, with a stone from what is left of his pillar (see my sketch above). A very beautifull site! When you are in Syria and have the time: go there! this pillar is surrounded by the beautiful remaining of a church, mainly Byzantine style. It is the earliest Byzantine church I have heard of, dating back to the 5th century BC.

Aleppo I remember as a beautiful city, like Paris, only the eastern way. Bought some stuff for my family over there. enjoyed soukh. khan and the old city and citadel. About citadels: we also visited krak des chevaliers, an old very impressive crusader castle. On the top floor we met some engineering students learning how to draw in perspective.

To finish this post I want to mention a village called Ma’lula. there is a  cloister from st Sergei with a magnificent church, where we heard an ‘our father’ pray in Aramaic.  After a good cup of (Turkish) coffee we walked through a canyon to the tomb/cave of of st. Thecla, where we drunk some water from the holy well.

Syria: when war is over I highly recommend to go there, it is a beautiful country!


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