Winter trip to Syria
About the journey
I was planning to visit Syria already in spring 2008, when i wanted to combine it with my journey to Iran, but time didn't allow that. Eight months later, in February 2009, when i wanted to go somewhere for a short one week trip outside of Europe, the decision where to go was pretty easy.

Countries visited: Syria
Travelperiod: 2/2009
Total costs: 260 Euro (air ticket) + 150 Euro (in Syria) + 700 CZK (syrian visa)

Photoblog
I had a very early AM arrival to Damascus
I had a very early AM arrival to Damascus
Ummayad Mosque by dusk
Ummayad Mosque by dusk

Customs and passport control at Damascus International Airport was a breeze, in the arrival hall i changed my USD into Syrian Pounds and took a shuttle bus to downtown, where I anchored in Al Haramayn hotel.

mosque in the Old City
mosque in the Old City
Marjeh Square (Square of Martyrs)
Marjeh Square (Square of Martyrs)


call for prayer in the Ummayad Mosque

Highlight for the afternoon was visit of the famous Ummayad Mosque, which is one of the "big" mosques for Muslims. It was build in the beginning of the 8th century, has 3 minarets and a very large courtyard.

snowfall in Syria... going by bus from Damascus to Hamah
snowfall in Syria... going by bus from Damascus to Hamah
wooden wheels (norias) in Hamah
wooden wheels (norias) in Hamah

Next day morning i left Damascus and headed to the north, to Hamah. It was cold and rained and as we climbed up bit higher to the mountains it even snowed! In Hamah i explored some of the huge ancient water wheels - norias, and later in the evening set myself in hotel Riad - 700 SYP a night. For next day i sign up for a tour to Masyaf Fortress and famous crusader castle Crac des Chevaliers.

Crac des Chevaliers
Crac des Chevaliers
Crac des Chevaliers - early Gothic
Crac des Chevaliers - early Gothic

Especially Crac des Chevaliers is an interesting site. Highly recommend to pay it a visit if you will be in Syria.

ancient Apamea
ancient Apamea
ancient Apamea - view towards the Central Column
ancient Apamea - view towards the Central Column

Following day, after just around one hour of driving on narrow roads we get to ruins of Apamea (built around 3rd century BC). Already the first view of the long columns colonade was astonishing. No other tourists were there, so one could really enjoy the place. If this site would stand in a country like Egypt, there would be at least 50 buses of tourists and hundreds of touts offering you some crappy souvenirs.

view from Apamea towards fortified village and snowcapped Coastal Mountains
view from Apamea towards fortified village and snowcapped Coastal Mountains
Dead cities north of Hamah
Dead cities north of Hamah

After Apamea we drive further to the north to Serjilla and Al-Bara, two of the so called Dead Cities. Al-Bara is interesting thanks to it's pyramid-shapped houses, but i liked Serjilla more.

in lanes of the Old Damascus
in lanes of the Old Damascus
Ummayad Mosque seen from Mount Qasioun
Ummayad Mosque seen from Mount Qasioun

My time for the north of Syria was over and unfortunately i did not have time for visit of Aleppo. Taking a bus back to Damascus and spending rest of the day there strolling around Old City and visiting the Ummayad Mosque once again. Next day follows just the return flight home.
It was a short trip, but i was satisfied. Syria is definitely worth visiting - you will hardly find a country, which on relatively small space would have so many sights and interesting places to visit.

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