Damascus without a hat

Trip Start Aug 11, 2009
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Trip End Sep 30, 2010


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Where I stayed
Al Saada hotel

Flag of Syria  ,
Sunday, February 21, 2010

Damascus inspires such high expectations (prophet Muhammed would not enter the city because he only wished to enter paradise once) that it is hard not to end up disapointed. As a city it is not particularly beautiful, from all glass brightly lit store fronts of new Damascus to the tiny lanes of old Damascus where cars going in opposite directions have honking and yelling matches to determine who will reverse out and give way.
There was also the impossibility of buying any kind of hat - Bevan left his last one on a bus and won't be persuaded to buy a lovely tea towel instead.

The huge Umayyad mosque (previously a stone Cathedral) was intriguing. The gold mosaic covered courtyard was full of families picnicking, the prayer hall silent with people kneeling (or sleeping) and the shrine packed with a jostling, surging mass of weeping Iranian pilgrims. The occasional tourist wandered past looking overwhelmed by the contrast. The women tourists just look embarrassed - the grey hooded cloak that is compulsary wearing positively screams tourist.
Iranian mosque was even crazier, a combination of trippy mirror mosaics and Iranian pilgrims, wailing, weeping and elbowing each other aside.

We also caught a bus out to the city  of Bosra, where ancient Roman black stone ruis blend slowly into suburbia as current residents have taken over the stone buildings to live in. The centrepiece is a grand theatre complete with moat - a problem with gatecrashers? no, it was later turned into a castle fortification.

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