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{{native name>syr|ܕܪܡܣܘܩ}}|settlement_type = City |image_skyline = Damascus coll.jpg|imagesize = 275px|image_caption = Umayyad Mosque General view of Damascus â€¢ Mount Qasioun Maktab Anbar â€¢ Azm Palace Tekkiye MosqueJasmine ()Al-Fayhaa (){{refn>group="note"AUTHOR=ALMAANY TEAM,, }}| motto = |image_seal = Flag_of_Damascus.png|seal_type = Flag and Seal| map_caption =|pushpin_map = Syria#Asia|pushpin_label_position = top|pushpin_mapsize = |pushpin_map_caption = Location of Damascus within Syria|pushpin_relief = 133473631region:SY|display=inline,title}}List of sovereign states>Country| subdivision_name = {{SYR}}Governorates of Syria>Governorates| subdivision_name1 = Damascus Governorate, Capital City| established_title =| established_date =statement by the governor of Damascus, Syria {{webarchive>url= |date=16 May 2011 }} {{ar icon}}, April 2010| area_total_km2 = 105| area_land_km2 =| area_water_km2 =| area_water_percent =| area_urban_km2 = 77| area_urban_sq_mi = 29.73| elevation_m = 680Chapter 2: Population & Demographic Indicators {{webarchive>url= |date=13 February 2011 }} Table 3: Estimates of Population actually living in Syria on 31 December 2011 by Mohafazat and six (in thousands)| population_total = 1,711,000| population_as_of = 2009 est.| population_density_km2 = 22,220.8| population_density_sq_mi = 57,551.3| population_urban = 2.90 million| population_metro =| population_density_metro_km2 =| population_note =DimashqiHuman Development Index>HDI (2011)URL=HTTPS://HDI.GLOBALDATALAB.ORG/AREADATA/SHDI/ LANGUAGE=EN, – high Eastern European Time>EET| utc_offset = +2| timezone_DST = EEST| utc_offset_DST = +3| postal_code_type =| postal_code =| area_code = Country code: 963, City code: 11| geocode = C1001Köppen climate classification>ClimateDesert climate#Cold desert climates>BWkweblink}}| footnotes ={{designation list | embed = yes| designation1 = WHS| designation1_offname = Ancient City of Damascus(3rd session)}}| designation1_number = 20| designation1_criteria = i, ii, iii, iv, vi| designation1_type = Cultural| designation1_free1name = State Party| designation1_free1value = Syria| designation1_free2name = RegionList of World Heritage Sites in the Arab States>Arab States}}}}Damascus ({{IPAc-en|d|É™|ˈ|m|æ|s|k|É™|s}}; {{IPA-ar|diˈmaʃq|}}, Syrian Arabic: {{IPA-ar|dɪˈmaʃʔ|}}) is the capital of Syria; it is also the country's largest city, following the decline in population of Aleppo due to the battle for the city. It is colloquially known in Syria as {{transl|ar|ALA|aÅ¡-Šām}} () and titled the "City of Jasmine" ( {{transl|ar|ALA|MadÄ«nat al-YāsmÄ«n}}). In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world,CONCRETE, 21, Damascus is a major cultural center of the Levant and the Arab world. The city has an estimated population of 1,711,000 {{As of|2009|lc=y}}.Located in south-western Syria, Damascus is the center of a large metropolitan area of 2.7 million people (2004).Central Bureau of Statistics Syria Syria census 2004 {{webarchive |url= |date=10 March 2013 }} Geographically embedded on the eastern foothills of the Anti-Lebanon mountain range {{convert|80|km|mi}} inland from the eastern shore of the Mediterranean on a plateau {{convert|680|m|ft}} above sea level, Damascus experiences a semi-arid climate because of the rain shadow effect. The Barada River flows through Damascus.First settled in the second millennium BC, it was chosen as the capital of the Umayyad Caliphate from 661 to 750. After the victory of the Abbasid dynasty, the seat of Islamic power was moved to Baghdad. Damascus saw a political decline throughout the Abbasid era, only to regain significant importance in the Ayyubid and Mamluk periods. Today, it is the seat of the central government and all of the government ministries. {{As of|2019|September|df=}}, 8 years since the start of the Syrian Civil War, Damascus has been named the world's least livable city by the Economist Intelligence Unit.WEB,weblink World's most livable city revealed, Buckley, Julia, 2019-09-04, CNN Travel, en, 2019-09-23,

{{anchor|Names and etymology}}Names and etymology

{{see also|Names of Damascus in different languages}}The name of Damascus first appeared in the geographical list of Thutmose III as 𓍘𓄟𓊃𓈎𓅱/𓍘𓄟𓈎𓅱𓈉 T-m-ś-q in the 15th century BC.List I, 13 in J. Simons, Handbook for the Study of Egyptian Topographical Lists relating to Western Asia, Leiden 1937. See also Y. AHARONI, The Land of the Bible: A Historical Geography, London 1967, p147, No. 13.The etymology of the ancient name "T-m-ś-q" is uncertain. It is attested as 𒀲𒋙 {{Transl|sem|Imerišú}} in Akkadian, 𓍘𓄠𓈎𓅱 {{Transl|sem|T-m-ś-q}} in Egyptian, {{Transl|sem|Dammaśq}} () in Old Aramaic and Dammeśeq () in Biblical Hebrew. A number of Akkadian spellings are found in the Amarna letters, from the 14th century BC: 𒁲𒈦𒋡 Dimasqa, 𒁲𒈦𒀸𒄀 Dimàsqì, and 𒁲𒈦𒀸𒋡 Dimàsqa. Later Aramaic spellings of the name often include an intrusive resh (letter r), perhaps influenced by the root dr, meaning "dwelling". Thus, the English and Latin name of the city is "Damascus" which was imported from (Greek: ) originated from "the Qumranic Darmeśeq (), and Darmsûq () in SyriacJOURNAL, 1357008, Ancient Damascus: A Historical Study of the Syrian City-State from Earliest Times Until Its Fall to the Assyrians in 732 BC., Wayne T. Pitard, Paul E. Dion, Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, 270, May 1988, 98, JOURNAL, 1356214, The Stele Dedicated to Melcarth by Ben-Hadad of Damascus, Frank Moore Cross, Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, 205, Feb 1972, 40, ", meaning "a well-watered land".BOOK, Miller, Catherine, Al-Wer, Enam, Caubet, Dominique, Watson, Janet C.E., 2007, Arabic in the City: Issues in Dialect Contact and Language Variation, Routledge, 189, 978-1135978761, In Arabic, the city is called {{transl|ar|ALA|Dimašqu š-Šāmi}} (), although this is often shortened to either Dimašq or aš-Šām by the citizens of Damascus, of Syria and other Arab neighbors and Turkey (as Şam). {{transl|ar|ALA|Aš-Šām}} is an Arabic term for "Levant" and for "Syria"; the latter, and particularly the historical region of Syria, is called {{transl|ar|ALA|Bilādu š-Šāmi}} ( / "land of the Levant"). Historically, Baalshamin or Ba'al Šamem (),BOOK, Teixidor, Javier, The Pagan God: Popular Religion in the Greco-Roman Near East,weblink'Lord%20of%20Heaven(s)', 14 August 2017, 2015, Princeton University Press, 9781400871391, 27, BOOK, Beattie, Andrew, Pepper, Timothy, The Rough Guide to Syria,weblink'Lord%20of%20Heaven(s)', 14 August 2017, 2001, Rough Guides, 9781858287188, 290, was a Semitic sky-god in Canaan/Phoenicia and ancient Palmyra.BOOK, Dirven, Lucinda, The Palmyrenes of Dura-Europos: A Study of Religious Interaction in Roman Syria,weblink 17 July 2012, 1999, BRILL, 978-90-04-11589-7, 76, BOOK, J.F. Healey, The Religion of the Nabataeans: A Conspectus,weblink 14 August 2017, 2001, BRILL, 9789004301481, 126, Hence, Sham refers to (heaven or sky).


File:Damascus SPOT 1363.jpg|thumb|left|Damascus in spring seen from Spot satellite ]]File:Damascus-snow-ثلج-الشام.jpg|thumb|left|Mount QasiounMount QasiounDamascus was built in a strategic site on a plateau {{convert|680|m|ft|abbr=on}} above sea level and about {{convert|80|km|mi|abbr=on}} inland from the Mediterranean, sheltered by the Anti-Lebanon mountains, supplied with water by the Barada River, and at a crossroads between trade routes: the north-south route connecting Egypt with Asia Minor, and the east-west cross-desert route connecting Lebanon with the Euphrates river valley. The Anti-Lebanon mountains mark the border between Syria and Lebanon. The range has peaks of over 10,000 ft. and blocks precipitation from the Mediterranean sea, so that the region of Damascus is sometimes subject to droughts. However, in ancient times this was mitigated by the Barada River, which originates from mountain streams fed by melting snow. Damascus is surrounded by the Ghouta, irrigated farmland where many vegetables, cereals and fruits have been farmed since ancient times. Maps of Roman Syria indicate that the Barada river emptied into a lake of some size east of Damascus. Today it is called Bahira Atayba, the hesitant lake, because in years of severe drought it does not even exist.The modern city has an area of {{convert|105|km2|abbr=on}}, out of which {{convert|77|km2|abbr=on}} is urban, while Jabal Qasioun occupies the rest.WEB, Damascus Metropolitan Area Urban Planning and Development,weblink DMA-UPD Discussion Paper Series No.2, October 2009, 2,weblink" title="">weblink 2012-10-28, File:Barada river in Damascus (April 2009).jpg|thumb|upright|One of the rare periods the Barada river is high, seen here next to the Four Seasons hotel in downtown Damascus]]The old city of Damascus, enclosed by the city walls, lies on the south bank of the river Barada which is almost dry ({{convert|3|cm|0|abbr=on}} left). To the south-east, north and north-east it is surrounded by suburban areas whose history stretches back to the Middle Ages: Midan in the south-west, Sarouja and Imara in the north and north-west. These neighborhoods originally arose on roads leading out of the city, near the tombs of religious figures. In the 19th century outlying villages developed on the slopes of Jabal Qasioun, overlooking the city, already the site of the al-Salihiyah neighborhood centered on the important shrine of medieval Andalusian Sheikh and philosopher Ibn Arabi. These new neighborhoods were initially settled by Kurdish soldiery and Muslim refugees from the European regions of the Ottoman Empire which had fallen under Christian rule. Thus they were known as al-Akrad (the Kurds) and al-Muhajirin (the migrants). They lay {{convert|2|-|3|km|abbr=on|0}} north of the old city.From the late 19th century on, a modern administrative and commercial center began to spring up to the west of the old city, around the Barada, centered on the area known as al-Marjeh or the meadow. Al-Marjeh soon became the name of what was initially the central square of modern Damascus, with the city hall in it. The courts of justice, post office and railway station stood on higher ground slightly to the south. A Europeanized residential quarter soon began to be built on the road leading between al-Marjeh and al-Salihiyah. The commercial and administrative center of the new city gradually shifted northwards slightly towards this area.File:Districts of damascus english.svg|thumb|upright=0.95|Municipalities of DamascusMunicipalities of DamascusIn the 20th century, newer suburbs developed north of the Barada, and to some extent to the south, invading the Ghouta oasis. {{Citation needed|date=May 2014}} In 1956–1957 the new neighborhood of Yarmouk became a second home to thousands of Palestinian refugees.The Palestinian refugees in Syria. Their past, present and future. Dr. Hamad Said al-Mawed, 1999 City planners preferred to preserve the Ghouta as far as possible, and in the later 20th century some of the main areas of development were to the north, in the western Mezzeh neighborhood and most recently along the Barada valley in Dummar in the north west and on the slopes of the mountains at Berze in the north-east. Poorer areas, often built without official approval, have mostly developed south of the main city.Damascus used to be surrounded by an oasis, the Ghouta region (الغوطة al-ġūṭä), watered by the Barada river. The Fijeh spring, west along the Barada valley, used to provide the city with drinking water and various sources to the west are tapped by water contractors. The flow of the Barada has reduced with the rapid expansion of housing and industry in the city and it is almost dry. The lower aquifers are polluted by city's runoff from heavily used roads, industry and sewage.


Damascus has a cold desert climate (BWk) in the Köppen-Geiger system,JOURNAL, M. Kottek, J. Grieser, C. Beck, B. Rudolf, F. Rubel, World Map of the Köppen-Geiger climate classification updated, Meteorol. Z., 15, 3, 259–263,weblink 10.1127/0941-2948/2006/0130, 1 August 2013, 2006, due to the rain shadow effect of the Anti-Lebanon mountainsWEB
, Tyson
, Patrick J.
, 2010
, 26 November 2010
, harv
, and the prevailing ocean currents. Summers are dry and hot with less humidity. Winters are cool and somewhat rainy; snowfall is infrequent. Annual rainfall is around {{convert|130|mm|0|abbr=on}}, occurring from October to May.
{{Weather box| width = auto| location = Damascus (Damascus International Airport) 1981–2010| metric first = Y| single line = Y| Jan record high C = 24.0| Feb record high C = 29.0| Mar record high C = 34.4| Apr record high C = 38.4| May record high C = 41.0| Jun record high C = 44.8| Jul record high C = 46.0| Aug record high C = 44.6| Sep record high C = 42.0| Oct record high C = 37.8| Nov record high C = 31.0| Dec record high C = 25.1|year record high C = 46.0| Jan high C = 12.6| Feb high C = 14.5| Mar high C = 19.0| Apr high C = 24.7| May high C = 30.1| Jun high C = 34.6| Jul high C = 37.0| Aug high C = 36.8| Sep high C = 33.9| Oct high C = 28.1| Nov high C = 20.1| Dec high C = 14.3|year high C = 25.5| Jan mean C = 6.1| Feb mean C = 7.7| Mar mean C = 11.4| Apr mean C = 16.2| May mean C = 20.8| Jun mean C = 25.0| Jul mean C = 27.3| Aug mean C = 27.0| Sep mean C = 24.0| Oct mean C = 19.0| Nov mean C = 12.1| Dec mean C = 7.5|year mean C = 17.0| Jan low C = 0.7| Feb low C = 1.9| Mar low C = 4.3| Apr low C = 7.9| May low C = 11.4| Jun low C = 15.0| Jul low C = 17.9| Aug low C = 17.7| Sep low C = 14.4| Oct low C = 10.3| Nov low C = 4.8| Dec low C = 1.7| year low C = 9.0| Jan record low C = −12.2| Feb record low C = −12.0| Mar record low C = −8.0| Apr record low C = −7.5| May record low C = 0.6| Jun record low C = 4.5| Jul record low C = 9.0| Aug record low C = 8.6| Sep record low C = 2.1| Oct record low C = -3.0| Nov record low C = −8.0| Dec record low C = −10.2|year record low C = -12.2| precipitation colour = green| Jan precipitation mm = 25| Feb precipitation mm = 26| Mar precipitation mm = 20| Apr precipitation mm = 7| May precipitation mm = 4| Jun precipitation mm = 1| Jul precipitation mm = 0| Aug precipitation mm = 0| Sep precipitation mm = 0| Oct precipitation mm = 6| Nov precipitation mm = 21| Dec precipitation mm = 21|year precipitation mm = | Jan precipitation days = 8| Feb precipitation days = 8| Mar precipitation days = 6| Apr precipitation days = 3| May precipitation days = 2| Jun precipitation days = 0.1| Jul precipitation days = 0.1| Aug precipitation days = 0.1| Sep precipitation days = 0.2| Oct precipitation days = 3| Nov precipitation days = 5| Dec precipitation days = 7|year precipitation days = | Jan snow days = 1| Feb snow days = 1| Mar snow days = 0.1| Apr snow days = 0| May snow days = 0| Jun snow days = 0| Jul snow days = 0| Aug snow days = 0| Sep snow days = 0| Oct snow days = 0| Nov snow days = 0| Dec snow days = 0.2|year snow days = |Jan humidity = 76|Feb humidity = 69|Mar humidity = 59|Apr humidity = 50|May humidity = 43|Jun humidity = 41|Jul humidity = 44|Aug humidity = 48|Sep humidity = 47|Oct humidity = 52|Nov humidity = 63|Dec humidity = 75|year humidity = 56| Jan sun = 164.3| Feb sun = 182.0| Mar sun = 226.3| Apr sun = 249.0| May sun = 322.4| Jun sun = 357.0| Jul sun = 365.8| Aug sun = 353.4| Sep sun = 306.0| Oct sun = 266.6| Nov sun = 207.0| Dec sun = 164.3|year sun = 3164.1|Jand sun = 5.3|Febd sun = 6.5|Mard sun = 7.3|Aprd sun = 8.3|Mayd sun = 10.4|Jund sun = 11.9|Juld sun = 11.8|Augd sun = 11.4|Sepd sun = 10.2|Octd sun = 8.6|Novd sun = 6.9|Decd sun = 5.3|yeard sun = 8.5|source 1 =,weblink The Climate of Damascus 1981–2010, Weather and Climate (Погода и климат), 26 April 2017, Russian, |source 2 = NOAA (sunshine hours, 1961–1990)WEB,weblink Damascus INTL Climate Normals 1961–1990, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 26 April 2017, | date = February 2014}}


{{See also|Timeline of Damascus}}

Early settlement

Carbon-14 dating at Tell Ramad, on the outskirts of Damascus, suggests that the site may have been occupied since the second half of the seventh millennium BC, possibly around 6300 BC.Moore, A.M.T. The Neolithic of the Levant. Oxford, UK: Oxford University, 1978. 192–198. Print. However, evidence of settlement in the wider Barada basin dating back to 9000 BC exists, although no large-scale settlement was present within Damascus walls until the second millennium BC.{{Harvnb|Burns|2005|p=2}}Some of the earliest Egyptian records are from the 1350 BC Amarna letters, when Damascus (called Dimasqu) was ruled by king Biryawaza. The Damascus region, as well as the rest of Syria, became a battleground circa 1260 BC, between the Hittites from the north and the Egyptians from the south,{{Harvnb|Burns|2005|pp=5–6}} ending with a signed treaty between Hattusili and Ramesses II where the former handed over control of the Damascus area to Ramesses II in 1259 BC. The arrival of the Sea Peoples, around 1200 BC, marked the end of the Bronze Age in the region and brought about new development of warfare.{{Harvnb|Burns|2005|p=7}} Damascus was only a peripheral part of this picture, which mostly affected the larger population centers of ancient Syria. However, these events contributed to the development of Damascus as a new influential center that emerged with the transition from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age.Damascus is mentioned in Genesis 14:15 as existing at the time of the War of the Kings.JOURNAL,weblink Genesis 14:15 (New International Version), Bible Gateway, 25 November 2009, harv, According to the 1st-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus in his twenty-one volume Antiquities of the Jews, Damascus (along with Trachonitis), was founded by Uz, the son of Aram.WEB,weblink The Antiquities of the Jews, by Flavius Josephus, Book 1, Ch. 6, Sect. 4, Project Gutenberg, 19 September 2014, In Antiquities i. 7,WEB,weblink The Antiquities of the Jews, by Flavius Josephus, Book 1, Ch. 7, Sect. 2, Project Gutenberg, 19 September 2014, Josephus reports:Nicolaus of Damascus, in the fourth book of his History, says thus: "Abraham reigned at Damascus, being a foreigner, who came with an army out of the land above Babylon, called the land of the Chaldeans: but, after a long time, he got him up, and removed from that country also, with his people, and went into the land then called the land of Canaan, but now the land of Judea, and this when his posterity were become a multitude; as to which posterity of his, we relate their history in another work. Now the name of Abraham is even still famous in the country of Damascus; and there is shown a village named from him, The Habitation of Abraham.


(File:ISS036-E-012047.jpg|thumb|upright=1.35|Annotated view of Damascus and surroundings from space.WEB,weblink Damascus, Syria : Image of the Day,, 5 April 2015, )Damascus is first documented as an important city during the arrival of the Aramaeans, a Semitic people from Mesopotamia, in the 11th century BC. By the start of the first millennium BC, several Aramaic kingdoms were formed, as Aramaeans abandoned their nomadic lifestyle and formed federated tribal states. One of these kingdoms was Aram-Damascus, centered on its capital Damascus.{{Harvnb|Burns|2005|p=9}} The Aramaeans who entered the city without battle, adopted the name "Dimashqu" for their new home. Noticing the agricultural potential of the still-undeveloped and sparsely populated area,{{Harvnb|Burns|2005|p=10}} they established the water distribution system of Damascus by constructing canals and tunnels which maximized the efficiency of the river Barada. The same network was later improved by the Romans and the Umayyads, and still forms the basis of the water system of the old part of the city today.{{Harvnb|Burns|2005|pp=13–14}} The Aramaeans initially turned Damascus into an outpost of a loose federation of Aramaean tribes, known as Aram-Zobah, based in the Beqaa Valley.The city would gain pre-eminence in southern Syria when Ezron, the claimant to Aram-Zobah's throne who was denied kingship of the federation, fled Beqaa and captured Damascus by force in 965 BC. Ezron overthrew the city's tribal governor and founded the independent entity of Aram-Damascus. As this new state expanded south, it prevented the Kingdom of Israel from spreading north and the two kingdoms soon clashed as they both sought to dominate trading hegemony in the east. Under Ezron's grandson, Ben-Hadad I (880–841 BC), and his successor Hazael, Damascus annexed Bashan (modern-day Hauran region), and went on the offensive with Israel. This conflict continued until the early 8th century BC when Ben-Hadad II was captured by Israel after unsuccessfully besieging Samaria. As a result, he granted Israel trading rights in Damascus.{{Harvnb|Burns|2005|p=11}}Another possible reason for the treaty between Aram-Damascus and Israel was the common threat of the Neo-Assyrian Empire which was attempting to expand into the Mediterranean coast. In 853 BC, King Hadadezer of Damascus led a Levantine coalition, that included forces from the northern Aram-Hamath kingdom and troops supplied by King Ahab of Israel, in the Battle of Qarqar against the Neo-Assyrian army. Aram-Damascus came out victorious, temporarily preventing the Assyrians from encroaching into Syria. However, after Hadadzezer was killed by his successor, Hazael, the Levantine alliance collapsed. Aram-Damascus attempted to invade Israel, but was interrupted by the renewed Assyrian invasion. Hazael ordered a retreat to the walled part of Damascus while the Assyrians plundered the remainder of the kingdom. Unable to enter the city, they declared their supremacy in the Hauran and Beqa'a valleys.By the 8th century BC, Damascus was practically engulfed by the Assyrians and entered a Dark Age. Nonetheless, it remained the economic and cultural center of the Near East as well as the Arameaen resistance. In 727, a revolt took place in the city, but was put down by Assyrian forces. After Assyria led by Tiglath-Pileser III went on a wide-scale campaign of quelling revolts throughout Syria, Damascus became totally subjugated by their rule. A positive effect of this was stability for the city and benefits from the spice and incense trade with Arabia. However, Assyrian authority was dwindling by 609–605 BC, and Syria-Palestine was falling into the orbit of Pharaoh Necho II's Egypt. In 572 BC, all of Syria had been conquered by the Neo-Babylonians, but the status of Damascus under Babylon is relatively unknown.{{Harvnb|Burns|2005|pp=21–23}}

Greco-Roman period

File:The Jupiter temple in Damascus.jpg|thumb|Ruins of the Jupiter Temple at the entrance of Al-Hamidiyah SouqAl-Hamidiyah SouqDamascus was conquered by Alexander the Great. After the death of Alexander in 323 BC, Damascus became the site of a struggle between the Seleucid and Ptolemaic empires. The control of the city passed frequently from one empire to the other. Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander's generals, made Antioch the capital of his vast empire, which led to the decline of Damascus' importance compared with new Seleucid cities such as Latakia in the north. Later, Demetrius III Philopator rebuilt the city according to the Greek hippodamian system and renamed it "Demetrias".Cohen raises doubts about this claim in {{Citation | author1=Cohen, Getzel M | author2=EBSCOhost | title=The Hellenistic settlements in Syria, the Red Sea Basin, and North Africa | publication-date=2006 | publisher=University of California Press | url= | accessdate=26 May 2014 }} page 137 note 4 - suggeasting the received tradition of the renaming rests on a few writers following Mionnets writings in 1811File:Bab Sharqi Street, Damascus.jpg|left|thumb|The Biblical Street called StraightStreet called StraightIn 64 BC, the Roman general Pompey annexed the western part of Syria. The Romans occupied Damascus and subsequently incorporated it into the league of ten cities known as the DecapolisBOOK,weblink Rome in the East: The Transformation of an Empire, Warwick Ball, 181, 2002, 9781134823871, which themselves were incorporated into the province of Syria and granted autonomy.Skolnik, Fred; Michael Berenbaum ( 2007) Encyclopaedia Judaica Volume 5 Granite Hill Publishers pg 527The city of Damascus was entirely redesigned by the Romans after Pompey conquered the region. Still today the Old Town of Damascus retains the rectangular shape of the Roman city, with its two main axes: the Decumanus Maximus (east-west; known today as the Via Recta) and the Cardo (north-south), the Decumanus being about twice as long. The Romans built a monumental gate which still survives at the eastern end of Decumanus Maximus. The gate originally had three arches: the central arch was for chariots while the side arches were for pedestrians.romeartlover, "Damascus: the ancient town"(File:Ancient City of Damascus-107623.jpg|thumb|Remnants of ancient Damascus)In 23 BC Herod the Great was gifted lands controlled by Zenodorus by Caesar AugustusKnoblet, Jerry (2005) Herod the Great University Press of America. and some scholars believe that Herod was also granted control of Damascus as well.Burns, Ross (2007) Damascus: A History Routledge pg 52 The control of Damascus reverted to Syria either upon the death of Herod the Great or was part of the lands given to Herod Philip which were given to Syria with his death in 33/34 AD.It is speculated that control of Damascus was gained by Aretas IV Philopatris of Nabatea between the death of Herod Philip in 33/34 AD and the death of Aretas in 40 AD but there is substantial evidence against Aretas controlling the city before 37 AD and many reasons why it could not have been a gift from Caligula between 37 and 40 AD.Riesner, Rainer (1998) Paul's Early Period: Chronology, Mission Strategy, Theology Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing pg 73–89Hengel, Martin (1997) Paul Between Damascus and Antioch: The Unknown Years Westminster John Knox Press pg 130 In fact, all these theories stem not from any actual evidence outside the New Testament but rather "a certain understanding of {{bibleverse|2 Corinthians|11:32|KJV}}" and in reality "neither from archaeological evidence, secular-historical sources, nor New Testament texts can Nabatean sovereignty over Damascus in the first century AD be proven."Riesner, Rainer (1998) Paul's Early Period: Chronology, Mission Strategy, Theology Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing pg 83–84, 89Damascus became a metropolis by the beginning of the 2nd century and in 222 it was upgraded to a colonia by the Emperor Septimius Severus. During the Pax Romana, Damascus and the Roman province of Syria in general began to prosper. Damascus's importance as a caravan city was evident with the trade routes from southern Arabia, Palmyra, Petra, and the silk routes from China all converging on it. The city satisfied the Roman demands for eastern luxuries. Circa 125 CE the Roman emperor Hadrian promoted the city of Damascus to "Metropolis of Coele-Syria".BOOK, Butcher, Kevin, Coinage in Roman Syria: Northern Syria, 64 BC-AD 253,weblink 2004, Royal Numismatic Society, 978-0-901405-58-6, 220, BOOK, Barclay Vincent Head, Historia Numorum: A Manual of Greek Numismatics,weblink 1887, 662, VII. Coele-Syria, Little remains of the architecture of the Romans, but the town planning of the old city did have a lasting effect. The Roman architects brought together the Greek and Aramaean foundations of the city and fused them into a new layout measuring approximately {{convert|1500|by|750|m|ft|sp=us|abbr=on}}, surrounded by a city wall. The city wall contained seven gates, but only the eastern gate (Bab Sharqi) remains from the Roman period. Roman Damascus lies mostly at depths of up to five meters (16.4 ft) below the modern city.The old borough of Bab Tuma was developed at the end of the Roman/Byzantine era by the local Eastern Orthodox community. According to the Acts of the Apostles, Saint Paul and Saint Thomas both lived in that neighborhood. Roman Catholic historians also consider Bab Tuma to be the birthplace of several Popes such as John V and Gregory III.

Early Islamic Arab period

Muhammad's first indirect interaction with the people of Damascus was when he sent Shiya bin Wahab to Haris bin Ghasanni, the king of Damascus. In his letter, Muhammad stated: "Peace be upon him who follows true guidance. Be informed that my religion shall prevail everywhere. You should accept Islam, and whatever under your command shall remain yours."Safiur-Rahman Mubarakpuri, The Sealed Nectar, p. 227Akbar Shāh Ḵẖān Najībābādī, History of Islam, Volume 1, p. 194. Quote: "Again, the Holy Prophet «P sent Dihyah bin Khalifa Kalbi to the Byzantine king Heraclius, Hatib bin Abi Baltaeh to the king of Egypt and Alexandria; Allabn Al-Hazermi to Munzer bin Sawa the king of Bahrain; Amer bin Aas to the king of Oman. Salit bin Amri to Hozah bin Ali— the king of Yamama; Shiya bin Wahab to Haris bin Ghasanni to the king of Damascus"File:Umayyad Mosque night.jpg|thumb|right|Courtyard of the Umayyad MosqueUmayyad MosqueAfter most of the Syrian countryside was conquered by the Rashidun Caliphate during the reign of Caliph Umar, Damascus itself was conquered by the Muslim-Arab general Khalid ibn al-Walid in August - September 634 AD. His army had previously attempted to capture the city in April 634, but without success.{{Harvnb|Burns|2005|pp=98–99}} With Damascus now in Muslim-Arab hands, the Byzantines, alarmed at the loss of their most prestigious city in the Near East, had decided to wrest back control of it. Under Emperor Heraclius, the Byzantines fielded an army superior to that of the Rashidun in manpower. They advanced into southern Syria during the spring of 636 and consequently Khalid ibn al-Walid's forces withdrew from Damascus to prepare for renewed confrontation.{{Harvnb|Burns|2005|p=100}} In August, the two sides met along the Yarmouk River where they a fought a major battle which ended in a decisive Muslim victory, solidifying Muslim rule in Syria and Palestine.{{Harvnb|Burns|2005|pp=103–104}}(File:Umayyad Mosque, Damascus.jpg|thumb|left|View of Damascus with the Umayyad Mosque in center)While the Muslims administered the city, the population of Damascus remained mostly Christian—Eastern Orthodox and Monophysite—with a growing community of Muslims from Mecca, Medina, and the Syrian Desert.{{Harvnb|Burns|2005|p=105}} The governor assigned to the city which had been chosen as the capital of Islamic Syria was Mu'awiya I. After the death of Caliph Ali in 661, Mu'awiya was chosen as the caliph of the expanding Islamic empire. Because of the vast amounts of assets his clan, the Umayyads, owned in the city and because of its traditional economic and social links with the Hijaz as well as the Christian Arab tribes of the region, Mu'awiya established Damascus as the capital of the entire Caliphate.{{Harvnb|Burns|2005|pp=106–107}} With the ascension of Caliph Abd al-Malik in 685, an Islamic coinage system was introduced and all of the surplus revenue of the Caliphate's provinces were forwarded to the treasury of Damascus. Arabic was also established as the official language, giving the Muslim minority of the city an advantage over the Aramaic-speaking Christians in administrative affairs.{{Harvnb|Burns|2005|pp=110}} It is critical to note that, at the time Damascus was conquered by the Muslims, the majority of Arabs were either pagans or Christians. Damascus itself was predominantly Aramaic with Arab speaking people.{{clarify|date=July 2018|reason=Aramaic-speaking Arabs? Aramaic people who spoke "Arab"?? Something else?}}Abd al-Malik's successor, al-Walid initiated construction of the Grand Mosque of Damascus (known as the Umayyad Mosque) in 706. The site originally had been the Christian Cathedral of St. John and the Muslims maintained the building's dedication to John the Baptist.{{Harvnb|Burns|2005|p=113}} By 715, the mosque was complete. Al-Walid died that same year and he was succeeded at first by Suleiman ibn Abd al-Malik and then by Umar II, who each ruled for brief periods before the reign of Hisham in 724. With these successions, the status of Damascus was gradually weakening as Suleiman had chosen Ramla as his residence and later Hisham chose Resafa. Following the murder of the latter in 743, the Caliphate of the Umayyads—which by then stretched from Spain to India— was crumbling as a result of widespread revolts. During the reign of Marwan II in 744, the capital of the empire was relocated to Harran in the northern Jazira region.{{Harvnb|Burns|2005|pp=121–122}}File:Umayyad Mosque-Dome of the Treasury211099.jpg|thumb|left|The dome of Damascus' treasury in the Umayyad Mosque]]On 25 August 750, the Abbasids, having already beaten the Umayyads in the Battle of the Zab in Iraq, conquered Damascus after facing little resistance. With the heralding of the Abbasid Caliphate, Damascus became eclipsed and subordinated by Baghdad, the new Islamic capital. Within the first six months of Abbasid rule, revolts began erupting in the city, albeit too isolated and unfocused to present a viable threat. Nonetheless, the last of the prominent Umayyads were executed, the traditional officials of Damascus ostracised, and army generals from the city were dismissed. Afterwards, the Umayyad family cemetery was desecrated and the city walls were torn down, reducing Damascus into a provincial town of little importance. It roughly disappeared from written records for the next century and the only significant improvement of the city was the Abbasid-built treasury dome in the Umayyad Mosque in 789. In 811, distant remnants of the Umayyad dynasty staged a strong uprising in Damascus that was eventually put down.{{Harvnb|Burns|2005|pp=130–132}}Ahmad ibn Tulun, a dissenting Turkish governor appointed by the Abbasids, conquered Syria, including Damascus, from his overlords in 878-79. In an act of respect for the previous Umayyad rulers, he erected a shrine on the site of Mu'awiya's grave in the city. Tulunid rule of Damascus was brief, lasting only until 906 before being replaced by the Qarmatians who were adherents of Shia Islam. Due to their inability to control the vast amount of land they occupied, the Qarmatians withdrew from Damascus and a new dynasty, the Ikhshidids, took control of the city. They maintained the independence of Damascus from the Arab Hamdanid dynasty of Aleppo and the Baghdad-based Abbasids until 967. A period of instability in the city followed, with a Qarmatian raid in 968, a Byzantine raid in 970, and increasing pressures from the Fatimids in the south and the Hamdanids in the north.{{Harvnb|Burns|2005|pp=135–136}}(File:Califate 750.jpg|thumb|Damascus was the capital of the Umayyad caliphate, which extended from Portugal to India)The Shia Fatimids gained control in 970, inflaming hostilities between them and the Sunni Arabs of the city who frequently revolted. A Turk, Alptakin drove out the Fatimids five years later, and through diplomacy, prevented the Byzantines from attempting to annex the city. However, by 977, the Fatimids under Caliph al-Aziz, wrested back control of the city and tamed Sunni dissidents. The Arab geographer, al-Muqaddasi, visited Damascus in 985, remarking that the architecture and infrastructure of the city was "magnificent", but living conditions were awful. Under al-Aziz, the city saw a brief period of stability that ended with the reign of al-Hakim (996–1021). In 998, hundreds of Damascus' citizens were rounded up and executed by him for incitement. Three years after al-Hakim's mysterious disappearance, the Arab tribes of southern Syria formed an alliance to stage a massive rebellion against the Fatimids, but they were crushed by the Fatimid Turkish governor of Syria and Palestine, Anushtakin al-Duzbari, in 1029. This victory gave the latter mastery over Syria, displeasing his Fatimid overlords, but gaining the admiration of Damascus' citizens. He was exiled by Fatimid authorities to Aleppo where he died in 1041.{{Harvnb|Burns|2005|pp=137–138}} From that date to 1063, there are no known records of the city's history. By then, Damascus lacked a city administration, had an enfeebled economy, and a greatly reduced population.{{Harvnb|Burns|2005|p=139}}

Seljuq and Ayyubid periods

With the arrival of the Seljuq Turks in the late 11th century, Damascus again became the capital of independent states. It was ruled by Abu Sa'id Taj ad-Dawla Tutush I starting in 1079 and he was succeeded by his son Abu Nasr Duqaq in 1095. The Seljuqs established a court in Damascus and a systematic reversal of Shia inroads in the city. The city also saw an expansion of religious life through private endowments financing religious institutions (madrasas) and hospitals (maristans). Damascus soon became one of the most important centers of propagating Islamic thought in the Muslim world. After Duqaq's death in 1104, his mentor (atabeg), Toghtekin, took control of Damascus and the Burid line of the Seljuq dynasty. Under Duqaq and Toghtekin, Damascus experienced stability, elevated status and a revived role in commerce. In addition, the city's Sunni majority enjoyed being a part of the larger Sunni framework effectively governed by various Turkic dynasties who in turn were under the moral authority of the Baghdad-based Abbasids.{{Harvnb|Burns|2005|pp=142}}While the rulers of Damascus were preoccupied in conflict with their fellow Seljuqs in Aleppo and Diyarbakir, the Crusaders, who arrived in the Levant in 1097, conquered Jerusalem, Mount Lebanon and Palestine. Duqaq seemed to have been content with Crusader rule as a buffer between his dominion and the Fatimid Caliphate of Egypt. Toghtekin, however, saw the Western invaders as a viable threat to Damascus which, at the time, nominally included Homs, the Beqaa Valley, Hauran, and the Golan Heights as part of its territories. With military support from Sharaf al-Din Mawdud of Mosul, Toghtekin managed to halt Crusader raids in the Golan and Hauran. Mawdud was assassinated in the Umayyad Mosque in 1109, depriving Damascus of northern Muslim backing and forcing Toghtekin to agree to a truce with the Crusaders in 1110.{{Harvnb|Burns|2005|p=147}}File:Damascus domes.jpg|thumb|The dome of the mausoleum of Nur ad-Din ]]Following Tughtakin's death in 1128, his son, Taj al-Din Buri, became the nominal ruler of Damascus. Coincidentally, the Seljuq prince of Mosul, Imad al-Din Zengi, took power in Aleppo and gained a mandate from the Abbasids to extend his authority to Damascus. In 1129, around 6,000 Isma'ili Muslims were killed in the city along with their leaders. The Sunnis were provoked by rumors alleging there was a plot by the Isma'ilis, who controlled the strategic fort at Banias, to aid the Crusaders in capturing Damascus in return for control of Tyre. Soon after the massacre, the Crusaders aimed to take advantage of the unstable situation and launch an assault against Damascus with nearly 60,000 troops. However, Buri allied with Zengi and managed to prevent their army from reaching the city.{{Harvnb|Burns|2005|pp=148–149}} Buri was assassinated by Isma'ili agents in 1132; he was succeeded by his son, Shams al-Mulk Isma'il who ruled tyrannically until he himself was murdered in 1135 on secret orders from his mother, Safwat al-Mulk Zumurrud; Isma'il's brother, Shihab al-Din Mahmud, replaced him. Meanwhile, Zengi, intent on putting Damascus under his control, married Safwat al-Mulk in 1138. Mahmud's reign then ended in 1139 after he was killed for relatively unknown reasons by members of his family. Mu'in al-Din Unur, his mamluk ("slave soldier") took effective power of the city, prompting Zengi—with Safwat al-Mulk's backing—to lay siege against Damascus the same year. In response, Damascus allied with the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem to resist Zengi's forces. Consequently, Zengi withdrew his army and focused on campaigns against northern Syria.{{Harvnb|Burns|2005|p=151}}In 1144 Zengi conquered Edessa, a crusader stronghold, which led to a new crusade from Europe in 1148. In the meantime Zengi was assassinated and his territory was divided among his sons, one of whom, Nur ad-Din, emir of Aleppo, made an alliance with Damascus. When the European crusaders arrived, they and the nobles of Jerusalem agreed to attack Damascus. Their siege, however, was a complete failure. When the city seemed to be on the verge of collapse, the crusader army suddenly moved against another section of the walls, and were driven back. By 1154, Damascus was firmly under Nur ad-Din's control.BOOK, Jonathan, Phillips, The Second Crusade: Extending the Frontiers of Christendom, Yale University Press, 2007, 216–227, In 1164, King Amalric of Jerusalem invaded Fatimid Egypt, which requested help from Nur ad-Din. The Nur ad-Din sent his general Shirkuh, and in 1166 Amalric was defeated at the Battle of al-Babein. When Shirkuh died in 1169, he was succeeded by his nephew Yusuf, better known as Saladin, who defeated a joint crusader-Byzantine siege of Damietta.Hans E. Mayer, The Crusades (Oxford University Press, 1965, trans. John Gillingham, 1972), pp. 118–120. Saladin eventually overthrew the Fatimid caliphs and established himself as Sultan of Egypt. He also began to assert his independence from Nur ad-Din, and with the death of both Amalric and Nur ad-Din in 1174, he was well-placed to begin exerting control over Damascus and Nur ad-Din's other Syrian possessions.BOOK, Christopher, Tyerman, God's War: A New History of the Crusades, Penguin, 2006, 350, In 1177 Saladin was defeated by the crusaders at the Battle of Montgisard, despite his numerical superiority.BOOK, Bernard, Hamilton, The Leper King and his Heirs: Baldwin IV and the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem, Cambridge University Press, 2000, 132–136, Saladin also besieged Kerak in 1183, but was forced to withdraw. He finally launched a full invasion of Jerusalem in 1187, and annihilated the crusader army at the Battle of Hattin in July. Acre fell to Saladin soon after, and Jerusalem itself was captured in October. These events shocked Europe, resulting in the Third Crusade in 1189, led by Richard I of England, Philip II of France and Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor, though the last drowned en route."The Third Crusade: Richard the Lionhearted and Philip Augustus", in A History of the Crusades, vol. II: The Later Crusades, 1189–1311, ed. R. L. Wolff and H. W. Hazard (Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 1969), pp. 45–49.The surviving crusaders, joined by new arrivals from Europe, put Acre to a lengthy siege which lasted until 1191. After re-capturing Acre, Richard defeated Saladin at the Battle of Arsuf in 1191 and the Battle of Jaffa in 1192, recovering most of the coast for the Christians, but could not recover Jerusalem or any of the inland territory of the kingdom. The crusade came to an end peacefully, with the Treaty of Jaffa in 1192. Saladin allowed pilgrimages to be made to Jerusalem, allowing the crusaders to fulfil their vows, after which they all returned home. Local crusader barons set about rebuilding their kingdom from Acre and the other coastal cities.Wolff and Hazard, pp. 67–85.Saladin died in 1193, and there were frequent conflicts between different Ayyubid sultans ruling in Damascus and Cairo. Damascus was the capital of independent Ayyubid rulers between 1193 and 1201, from 1218 to 1238, from 1239 to 1245, and from 1250 to 1260. At other times it was ruled by the Ayyubid rulers of Egypt.{{citation needed|date=June 2018}} During the internecine wars fought by the Ayyubid rulers, Damascus was besieged repeatedly.Kenneth M. Setton, Robert Lee Wolff, Harry W. Hazard (editors), A History of the Crusades, Volume II: The Later Crusades, 1189-1311, p. 695, University of Wisconsin Press, series "History of the Crusades", 2006The patterned Byzantine and Chinese silks available through Damascus, one of the Western termini of the Silk Road, gave the English language "damask".{{citation needed|date=June 2018}}

Mamluk period

Ayyubid rule (and independence) came to an end with the Mongol invasion of Syria in 1260, and following the Mongol defeat at Ain Jalut in the same year, Damascus became a provincial capital of the Mamluk Empire, ruled from Egypt, following the Mongol withdrawal. The Black Death of 1348–1349 killed as much as half of the city's population."Islamic city". Encyclopædia Britannica.In 1400 Timur, the Turco-Mongol conqueror, besieged Damascus. The Mamluk sultan dispatched a deputation from Cairo, including Ibn Khaldun, who negotiated with him, but after their withdrawal Timur sacked the city. The Umayyad Mosque was burnt and men and women taken into slavery. A huge number of the city's artisans were taken to Timur's capital at Samarkand. These were the luckier citizens: many were slaughtered and their heads piled up in a field outside the north-east corner of the walls, where a city square still bears the name burj al-ru'us, originally "the tower of heads".Rebuilt, Damascus continued to serve as a Mamluk provincial capital until 1516.

Ottoman period

{{see also|Damascus Eyalet|Syria Vilayet}}File:Takiyya as-Süleimaniyya Mosque 02.jpg|thumb|upright|Tekkiye MosqueTekkiye MosqueIn early 1516, the Ottoman Turks, wary of the danger of an alliance between the Mamluks and the Persian Safavids, started a campaign of conquest against the Mamluk sultanate. On 21 September, the Mamluk governor of Damascus fled the city, and on 2 October the khutba in the Umayyad mosque was pronounced in the name of Selim I. The day after, the victorious sultan entered the city, staying for three months. On 15 December, he left Damascus by Bab al-Jabiya, intent on the conquest of Egypt. Little appeared to have changed in the city: one army had simply replaced another. However, on his return in October 1517, the sultan ordered the construction of a mosque, tekkiye and mausoleum at the shrine of Shaikh Muhi al-Din ibn Arabi in al-Salihiyah. This was to be the first of Damascus' great Ottoman monuments.During this time, according to an Ottoman census, Damascus had 10,423 households."Population and Revenue in the Towns of Palestine in the Sixteenth Century"(File:DamasChristianQuarter1860.jpg|thumb|left|Photograph of the Christian quarter of Damascus after its destruction in 1860)The Ottomans remained for the next 400 years, except for a brief occupation by Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt from 1832 to 1840. Because of its importance as the point of departure for one of the two great Hajj caravans to Mecca, Damascus was treated with more attention by the Porte than its size might have warranted—for most of this period, Aleppo was more populous and commercially more important. In 1560 the Tekkiye al-Sulaimaniyah, a mosque and khan for pilgrims on the road to Mecca, was completed to a design by the famous Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan, and soon afterwards a madrasa was built adjoining it.Under Ottoman rule, Christians and Jews were considered dhimmis and were allowed to practice their religious precepts. During the Damascus affair of 1840 the false accusation of ritual murder was brought against members of the Jewish community of Damascus. The massacre of Christians in 1860 was also one of the most notorious incidents of these centuries, when fighting between Druze and Maronites in Mount Lebanon spilled over into the city. Several thousand Christians were killed in June 1860, with many more being saved through the intervention of the Algerian exile Abd al-Qadir and his soldiers (three days after the massacre started), who brought them to safety in Abd al-Qadir's residence and the citadel. The Christian quarter of the old city (mostly inhabited by Catholics), including a number of churches, was burnt down. The Christian inhabitants of the notoriously poor and refractory Midan district outside the walls (mostly Orthodox) were, however, protected by their Muslim neighbors.American Missionary E.C. Miller records that in 1867 the population of the city was 'about' 140,000, of whom 30,000 were Christians, 10,000 Jews and 100,000 'Mohammedans' with fewer than 100 Protestant Christians.Ellen Clare Miller, 'Eastern Sketches – notes of scenery, schools and tent life in Syria and Palestine'. Edinburgh: William Oliphant and Company. 1871. page 90. quoting Eli Jones, a Quaker from New England.

Modern period

{{see also|French Mandate of Syria and the Lebanon}}File:4ALHinDamascus.jpg|thumb|The Turkish Hospital in Damascus on 1 October 1918, shortly after the entry of the Australian 4th Light Horse Regiment ]]In the early years of the 20th century, nationalist sentiment in Damascus, initially cultural in its interest, began to take a political coloring, largely in reaction to the turkicisation program of the Committee of Union and Progress government established in Istanbul in 1908. The hanging of a number of patriotic intellectuals by Jamal Pasha, governor of Damascus, in Beirut and Damascus in 1915 and 1916 further stoked nationalist feeling, and in 1918, as the forces of the Arab Revolt and the British Imperial forces approached, residents fired on the retreating Turkish troops.File:Emir Faisal; Lt. Colonel T.E. Lawrence - early 1918.jpg|thumb|left|King Faisal of Syria and T.E. Lawrence in Damascus during World War IWorld War IOn 1 October 1918, T. E. Lawrence entered Damascus, the third arrival of the day, the first being the Australian 3rd Light Horse Brigade, led by Major A.C.N. 'Harry' Olden.Barker, A. (1998) "The Allies Enter Damascus", History Today, Volume 48 Two days later, 3 October 1918, the forces of the Arab revolt led by Prince Faysal also entered Damascus.Roberts, P.M., World War I, a Student Encyclopedia, 2006, ABC-CLIO, p.657 A military government under Shukri Pasha was named and Faisal ibn Hussein was proclaimed king of Syria. Political tension rose in November 1917, when the new Bolshevik government in Russia revealed the Sykes-Picot Agreement whereby Britain and France had arranged to partition the Arab east between them. A new Franco-British proclamation on 17 November promised the "complete and definitive freeing of the peoples so long oppressed by the Turks." The Syrian National Congress in March adopted a democratic constitution. However, the Versailles Conference had granted France a mandate over Syria, and in 1920 a French army commanded by the General Mariano Goybet crossed the Anti-Lebanon Mountains, defeated a small Syrian defensive expedition at the Battle of Maysalun and entered Damascus. The French made Damascus capital of their League of Nations Mandate for Syria.File:Damascus Opera House.jpg|thumb|The Damascus Opera HouseDamascus Opera HouseWhen in 1925 the Great Syrian Revolt in the Hauran spread to Damascus, the French suppressed with heavy weaponry, bombing and shelling the city on 9 May 1926. As a result, the area of the old city between Al-Hamidiyah Souq and Medhat Pasha Souq was burned to the ground, with many deaths, and has since then been known as al-Hariqa ("the fire"). The old city was surrounded with barbed wire to prevent rebels infiltrating from the Ghouta, and a new road was built outside the northern ramparts to facilitate the movement of armored cars.On 21 June 1941, 3 weeks into the Allied Syria-Lebanon campaign, Damascus was captured from the Vichy French forces by a mixed British Indian and Free French force. The French agreed to withdraw in 1946, thus leading to the full independence of Syria. Damascus remained the capital.By January 2012, clashes between the regular army and rebels reached the outskirts of Damascus, reportedly preventing people from leaving or reaching their houses, especially when security operations there intensified from the end of January into February.WEB,weblink Public transportation in Damascus is having an uphill go of it,weblink" title="">weblink 2012-03-21, By June 2012, bullets and shrapnel shells smashed into homes in Damascus overnight as troops battled the Free Syrian Army in the streets. At least three tank shells slammed into residential areas in the central Damascus neighborhood of Qaboun, according to activists. Intense exchanges of assault-rifle fire marked the clash, according to residents and amateur video posted online.NEWS,weblink Heavy gunfire in Syria's capital during the weekend, Haaretz, 10 June 2012, 10 June 2012, The Damascus suburb of Ghouta suffered heavy bombing in December 2017 and a further wave of bombing started in February 2018, also known as Rif Dimashq Offensive.On 20 May 2018, Damascus and the entire Rif Dimashq Governorate came fully under government control for the first time in 7 years after the evacuation of IS from Yarmouk Camp.NEWS,weblink Syrian military in full control of Damascus for first time in years, Leith, Aboufadel, 20 May 2018, 20 May 2018, Al-Masdar News,


File:FourseasonshotelDamascus.JPG|thumb|upright|The Four Seasons Hotel ]]The historical role that Damascus played as an important trade center has changed in recent years due to political development in the region as well as the development of modern trade.WEB,weblink Damascus, Encyclopædia Britannica, 28 November 2009, Most goods produced in Damascus, as well as in Syria, are distributed to countries of the Arabian peninsula. Damascus has also held an annual international trade exposition every fall, since 1954.WEB,weblink Damascus International Fair, 28 November 2009, The tourism industry in Damascus has a lot of potential, however the current civil war has hampered these prospects. The abundance of cultural wealth in Damascus has been modestly employed since the late 1980s with the development of many accommodation and transportation establishments and other related investments. Since the early 2000s, numerous boutique hotels and bustling cafes opened in the old city which attract plenty of European tourists and Damascenes alike.NEWS,weblink Damascus Revels in Its New Allure to Investors, The Wall Street Journal, 28 November 2009, Chip, Cummins, In 2009 new office space was built and became available on the real estate market.WEB,weblink Report: Office Space Across the World 2009, Cushman & Wakefield, 28 November 2009, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 11 May 2011, The real-estate sector is stopped due to the terrorism and exodus of the population.File:Blue tower Alhamra street.JPG|250px|thumb|Blue Tower HotelBlue Tower HotelDamascus is home to a wide range of industrial activity, such as textile, food processing, cement and various chemical industries. The majority of factories are run by the state, however limited privatization in addition to economic activities led by the private sector, were permitted starting in the early 2000s with the liberalization of trade that took place.Traditional handcrafts and artisan copper engravings are still produced in the old city.The Damascus stock exchange formally opened for trade in March 2009, and the exchange is the only stock exchange in Syria.WEB,weblink Inauguration of Damascus Stock Exchange, Syrian Enterprise and Business Center, 28 November 2009, It is currently located in the Barzeh district, within Syria's financial markets and securities commission. Its final home is to be the upmarket business district of Yaafur.WEB,weblink AFP: Syria launches first stock exchange, 10 March 2009, 20 June 2010,


File:Damascusfashion.jpg|thumb|upright|Three Damascene women, 1873: peasant (left), Druze in tantourtantourThe estimated population of Damascus in 2011 was 1,711,000. Damascus is the center of an over-crowded metropolitan area with an estimated population of 5 million. The metropolitan area of Damascus includes the cities of Douma, Harasta, Darayya, Al-Tall and Jaramana.The city's growth rate is higher than Syria as a whole, primarily due to rural-urban migration and the influx of young Syrian migrants drawn by employment and educational opportunities.WEB,weblink Damascus {{!, National Capital, Syria |website= }} The migration of Syrian youths to Damascus has resulted in an average age within the city that is below the national average. Nonetheless, the population of Damascus is thought to have decreased in recent years as a result of the ongoing Syrian Civil War.


The vast majority of Damascenes are Syrian Arabs. The Kurds are the largest ethnic minority, with a population of approximately 300,000.BOOK, Displacement and Dispossession in the Modern Middle East, Chatty, Dawn, Dawn Chatty, Cambridge University Press, 2010, 978-0-521-52104-8, 267,weblink {{better source|date=October 2016}} They reside primarily in the neighborhoods of Wadi al-Mashari ("Zorava" or "Zore Afa" in Kurdish) and Rukn al-Din.WEB,weblink Kurds of Damascus: Trapped between Secession and Integration, 24 May 2016,weblink" title="">weblink 18 April 2016, dead, WEB, May 2013,weblink As Fighting Rages in Damascus, Kurds Flee Their Neighborhoods, Other minorities include Syrian Turkmen, Armenians, Assyrians, Circassians and a small Greek community.Among the city's minorities is a small Palestinian community.


File:Mariamie-8-12-21032013-12-17-095100.jpg|thumb|Patriarch John the Tenth leading mass at the Mariamite Cathedral of DamascusMariamite Cathedral of DamascusIslam is the dominant religion. The majority of Muslims are Sunni while Alawites and Twelver Shi'a comprise sizeable minorities. Alawites live primarily in the Mezzeh districts of Mezzeh 86 and Sumariyah. Twelvers primarily live near the Shia holy sites of Sayyidah Ruqayya and Sayyidah Zaynab. It is believed that there are more than 200 mosques in Damascus, the most well-known being the Umayyad Mosque.BOOK, Flood, Finbarr Barry, The Great Mosque of Damascus: studies on the makings of an Umayyad visual culture, BRILL, 2001, 33, 12, 978-90-04-11638-2,weblink 26 November 2009, harv, Christians represent about 15%–20% of the population.{{citation needed|date=May 2016}} Several Eastern Christian riteshave their headquarters in Damascus, including the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Syriac Catholic Church, and the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch. The Christian districts in the city are Bab Tuma, Qassaa and Ghassani. Each have many churches, most notably the ancient Chapel of Saint Paul and St Georges Church in Bab Tuma. At the suburb of Soufanieh a series of apparitions of the Virgin Mary have reportedly been observed between 1982 and 2004.Sbalchiero in: Laurentin/ Sbalchiero (2007), p. 1093–1097. A smaller Druze minority inhabits the city, notably in the mixed Christian-Druze suburbs of Tadamon,WEB,weblink Syria's Alawites Under Siege, Jaramana,WEB,weblink Despite pressure Druze remain in regime camp, and Sahnaya. The Patriarchal See of the Syriac Orthodox is based in Damascus, Bab Toma. This church is independent of the Middle Eastern-based Syriac Orthodox Church in Damascus and has its own leadership and structure in India, although both practice the same or similar denomination of Christianity. There are 700,000 members of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch in Syria, who are the bulk of the Christian Population alongside 400,000 Assyrians/Syriacs and 30-100,000 Armenians.There was a small Jewish community namely in what is called Haret al-Yahud the Jewish quarter. They are the remnants of an ancient and much larger Jewish presence in Syria, dating back at least to Roman times, if not before to the time of King David.Katz, Ketsi'ah (1981), Masoret ha-lashon ha-'Ibrit shel Yehude Aram-Tsoba (Ḥalab) bi-qri'at ha-Miqra ve-ha-Mishnah (The Hebrew Language Tradition of the Jews of Aleppo in the Reading of the Bible and Mishnah)Melkite Greek Catholic Church, Damascus, Syria.jpg|The Greek-Melkite Patriarchal Cathedral of the Dormition of Our LadySyriac Catholic Church, Damascus 01.jpg|The Syriac Catholic cathedralDamascus-Bab Kisan.jpg|The Chapel of Saint PaulTakiyya as-Süleimaniyya Mosque 01.jpg|The Tekkiye MosqueUmmayad Mosque at night.jpg|The Umayyad MosqueSayyidah Ruqayya Mosque 03.jpg|The Sayyidah Ruqayya Mosque


Sufism throughout the second half of the 20th century has been an influential current in the Sunni religious practises, particularly in Damascus. The largest women-only and girls-only Muslim movement in the world happens to be Sufi-oriented and is based in Damascus, led by Munira al-Qubaysi. Syrian Sufism has its stronghold in urban regions such as Damascus, where it also established political movements such as Zayd, with the help of a series of mosques, and clergy such as Abd al-Ghani al-Nabulsi, Sa'id Hawwa, Abd al-Rahman al-Shaghouri and Muhammad al-Yaqoubi.WEB,weblink Syrian Sufis Divided As Salafist Influence Grows, 3 October 2013,

Historical sites

(File:Damasco via rectaHPIM3222.JPG|thumb|left|Typical historic Damascene street)File:Al-Hamidiyah Souq 02.jpg|thumb|Al-Hamidiyah Souq, dating back to the Ottoman era ]]Damascus has a wealth of historical sites dating back to many different periods of the city's history. Since the city has been built up with every passing occupation, it has become almost impossible to excavate all the ruins of Damascus that lie up to {{convert|8|ft|m|order=flip|abbr=on}} below the modern level. {{citation needed|date=May 2014}} The Citadel of Damascus is located in the northwest corner of the Old City. The Damascus Straight Street (referred to in the account of the conversion of St. Paul in Acts 9:11), also known as the Via Recta, was the decumanus (East-West main street) of Roman Damascus, and extended for over {{convert|1500|m|ft|sp=us|abbr=on}}. Today, it consists of the street of Bab Sharqi and the Souk Medhat Pasha, a covered market. The Bab Sharqi street is filled with small shops and leads to the old Christian quarter of Bab Tuma (St. Thomas's Gate). Medhat Pasha Souq is also a main market in Damascus and was named after Midhat Pasha, the Ottoman governor of Syria who renovated the Souk. At the end of the Bab Sharqi street, one reaches the House of Ananias, an underground chapel that was the cellar of Ananias's house. The Umayyad Mosque, also known as the Grand Mosque of Damascus, is one of the largest mosques in the world and also one of the oldest sites of continuous prayer since the rise of Islam. A shrine in the mosque is said to contain the body of St. John the Baptist. The mausoleum where Saladin was buried is located in the gardens just outside the mosque. Sayyidah Ruqayya Mosque, the shrine of the youngest daughter of Husayn ibn Ali, can also be found near the Umayyad Mosque. The ancient district of Amara is also within a walking distance from these sites. Another heavily visited site is Sayyidah Zaynab Mosque, where the tomb of Zaynab bint Ali is located.Shias, Fatemids and Dawoodi Bohras believe that after the battle of Karbala (680 AD), in Iraq, the Umayyad Caliph Yezid brought Imam Husain's head to Damascus, where it was first kept in the courtyard of Yezid Mahal, now part of Umayyad Mosque complex. All other remaining members of Imam Husain's family (left alive after Karbala) along with heads of all other companions, who were killed at Karbala, were also brought to Damascus. These members were kept as prisoners on the outskirts of the city (near Bab al-Saghir), where the other heads were kept at the same location, now called "Raous-us-sohda-e-karbala", visited by all Shias. There is a qibla (place of worship) marked at the place, where Imam Ali-Zain-ul-Abedin used to pray while in captivity.{{citation needed|date=January 2018}}The Harat Al Yehuweblink or Jewish Quarter is a recently restored historical tourist destination popular among Europeans before the outbreak of civil war. Vacationers can enjoy the neighborhood and scenic ancient homes abandoned by the completely departed Syrian Jewish communityweblink

Walls and gates of Damascus

File:Bab Touma Gate Damascus.jpg|thumb|Bab TumaBab TumaThe Old City of Damascus with an approximate area of 86.12 hectaresWEB,weblink Ancient City of Damascus, UNESCO, 31 October 2017, is surrounded by ramparts on the northern and eastern sides and part of the southern side. There are seven extant city gates, the oldest of which dates back to the Roman period. These are, clockwise from the north of the citadel:
  • Bab al-Faradis ("the gate of the orchards", or "of the paradise")
  • Bab al-Salam ("the gate of peace"), all on the north boundary of the Old City
  • Bab Tuma ("Touma" or "Thomas's Gate") in the north-east corner, leading into the Christian quarter of the same name,
  • Bab Sharqi ("eastern gate") in the east wall, the only one to retain its Roman plan
  • Bab Kisan in the south-east, from which tradition holds that Saint Paul made his escape from Damascus, lowered from the ramparts in a basket; this gate has been closed and turned into Chapel of Saint Paul marking this event,
  • Bab al-Saghir (The Small Gate)
  • Bab al-Jabiya at the entrance to Souk Midhat Pasha, in the south-west.
Other areas outside the walled city also bear the name "gate": Bab al-Faraj, Bab Mousalla and Bab Sreija, both to the south-west of the walled city.

Churches in the old city

File:Damascus-Bab Kisan.jpg|thumb|Chapel of Saint PaulChapel of Saint Paul

Islamic sites in the old city

(File:Saladin mouselum tomb Damascus.jpg|thumb|Saladin mausoleum)



Old Damascene houses

(File:Damascusalley.JPG|thumb|upright|Narrow alley in old Damascus)

Threats to the future of the old City

Due to the rapid decline of the population of Old Damascus (between 1995 and 2009 about 30,000 people moved out of the old city for more modern accommodation),NEWS, Hendawi, Hamza, Old Damascus struggles to cope in the new Syria,weblink 13 August 2017, The Associated Press, The San Diego Union-Tribune, 2009-02-01, a growing number of buildings are being abandoned or are falling into disrepair. In March 2007, the local government announced that it would be demolishing Old City buildings along a {{convert|1400|m|ft|abbr=on}} stretch of rampart walls as part of a redevelopment scheme. These factors resulted in the Old City being placed by the World Monuments Fund on its 2008 Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites in the world.WEB, World Monuments Fund, 2008 World Monuments Watch List Of 100 Most Endangered Sites,weblink World Monuments Fund, World Monuments Fund, 27 July 2015, PDF, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 20 March 2013, WEB, 2008 Panelists Bios, World Monuments Fund,weblink 3 September 2009, dead,weblink" title="">weblink May 13, 2008, It is hoped that its inclusion on the list will draw more public awareness to these significant threats to the future of the historic Old City of Damascus.

Current state of old Damascus

In spite of the recommendations of the UNESCO World Heritage Center:JOURNAL,weblink The British Syrian Society, The British Syrian Society, 29 May 2009, harv,weblink" title="">weblink 2007-06-23,
  • Souq al-Atiq, a protected buffer zone, was destroyed in three days in November 2006;
  • King Faysal Street, a traditional hand-craft region in a protected buffer zone near the walls of Old Damascus between the Citadel and Bab Touma, is threatened by a proposed motorway.
  • In 2007, the Old City of Damascus and notably the district of Bab Tuma have been recognized by The World Monument Fund as one of the most endangered sites in the world.WEB,weblink,, 6 November 2011, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 30 September 2002,
In October 2010, Global Heritage Fund named Damascus one of 12 cultural heritage sites most "on the verge" of irreparable loss and destruction.WEB,weblink GHF, Global Heritage Fund, 1 June 2011, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 15 May 2011, dmy-all,


File:Damascus university internal view.jpg|thumb|Damascus UniversityDamascus UniversityDamascus is the main center of education in Syria. It is home to Damascus University, which is the oldest and largest university in Syria. After the enactment of legislation allowing private higher institutions, several new universities were established in the city and in the surrounding area, including: The institutes play an important rule in the education, including:


(File:Damascus-Hejaz station.jpg|thumb|Al-Hejaz Station)The main airport is Damascus International Airport, approximately {{convert|20|km|mi|abbr=on}} away from the city, with connections to a few Middle Eastern cities. Before the beginning of the Syrian civil war, the Airport had connectivity to many Asian, European, African, and, South American cities.Streets in Damascus are often narrow, especially in the older parts of the city, and speed bumps are widely used to limit the speed of vehicles.Public transport in Damascus depends extensively on minibuses. There are about one hundred lines that operate inside the city and some of them extend from the city center to nearby suburbs. There is no schedule for the lines, and due to the limited number of official bus stops, buses will usually stop wherever a passenger needs to get on or off. The number of buses serving the same line is relatively high, which minimizes the waiting time. Lines are not numbered, rather they are given captions mostly indicating the two end points and possibly an important station along the line.Served by Chemins de Fer Syriens, the former main railway station of Damascus was al-Hejaz railway station, about {{convert|1|km|mi|frac=8|abbr=on}} west of the old city. The station is now defunct and the tracks have been removed, but there still is a ticket counter and a shuttle to Damacus Kadam station in the south of the city, which now functions as the main railway station.In 2008, the government announced a plan to construct a Damascus Metro with opening time for the green line scheduled for 2015.WEB,weblink الخط الأخضر " أهلاً بكم في موقع الخط الأخضر,, 29 May 2009, harv,weblink" title="">weblink 11 September 2008, dead, dmy-all, The green line will be an essential West-East axis for the future public transportation network, serving Moadamiyeh, Sumariyeh, Mezzeh, Damascus University, Hijaz, the Old City, Abbassiyeen and Qaboun Pullman bus station. A four-line metro network is expected be in operation by 2050.


File:Damascus National Museum Umayyad Castle Gate.jpg|thumb|National Museum of DamascusNational Museum of DamascusDamascus was chosen as the 2008 Arab Capital of Culture.WEB,weblink دمشق عاصمة الثقافة العربية 2008,, 27 December 2012, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 5 August 2011, The preparation for the festivity began in February 2007 with the establishing of the Administrative Committee for "Damascus Arab Capital of Culture" by a presidential decree.WEB,weblink مجلس الإدارة و المجلس الاستشاري,, 22 October 2007, 20 June 2010, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 11 May 2011, dmy,



Damascus appears in the videogame Assassin's Creed

Sports and leisure

File:Al-Fayhaa Stadium in Damascus, Syria as seen from Mount Qasioun.jpg|thumb|Al-Fayhaa Sports ComplexAl-Fayhaa Sports ComplexPopular sports include football, basketball, swimming, tennis, table tennis, equestrian and chess. Damascus is home to many football clubs that participate in the Syrian Premier League including al-Jaish, al-Shorta, Al-Wahda and Al-Majd. Many Other sport clubs are located in several districts of the city: Barada SC, Nidal SC, Al-Muhafaza, Qasioun SC, al-Thawra SC, Maysalun SC, al-Fayhaa SC, Dummar SC and al-Arin SC.The fifth and the seventh Pan Arab Games were held in Damascus in 1976 and 1992 respectively.The city also has a modern golf course located near the Ebla Cham Palace Hotel at the southeastern outskirts of Damascus.Damascus has quite busy midnights. Coffeehouses, where —in addition to Arabic coffee and tea— nargileh (water pipes) are served, proliferate Damascus. Card games, tables (backgammon variants), and chess are activities frequented in cafés.Beatties and Pepper, 2001, p. 102. Current movies can be seen at Cinema City which was previously known as Cinema Dimashq.Tishreen Park is one of the largest parks in Damascus. It is home to the annual Damascus Flower Show. Other parks include: al-Jahiz, al-Sibbki, al-Tijara, al-Wahda, etc.. The city's famous Ghouta oasis is also a weekend-destination for recreation. Many recreation centers operate in the city including sport clubs, swimming pools and golf courses. The Syrian Arab Horse Association in Damascus offers a wide range of activities and services for horse breeders and riders.WEB,weblink Syrian Arab Horse Association,, 20 June 2010,

Nearby attractions

(File:Alzabadani.JPG|thumb|Zabadani resort near Damascus)File:Bakdash ice-cream shop in the old souk in Damascus.jpg|thumb|Booza being sold in the Bakdash ice cream shop in the Damascus market]]
  • Madaya: a small mountainous town well known holiday resort.
  • Bloudan: a town located {{convert|51|km|abbr=on}} north-west of the Damascus, its moderate temperature and low humidity in summer attracts many visitors from Damascus and throughout Syria, Lebanon and the Persian Gulf.
  • Zabadani: a city in close to the border with Lebanon. Its mild weather along with the scenic views, made the town a popular resort both for tourists and for visitors from other Syrian cities.
  • Maaloula: a town dominated by speakers of Western Neo-Aramaic.
  • Saidnaya: a city located in the mountains, {{convert|1500|m|0}} above sea level, it was one of the episcopal cities of the ancient Patriarchate of Antioch.

Notable people from Damascus

See also






{{See also|Timeline of Damascus#Bibliography|l1=Bibliography of the history of Damascus}}
  • BOOK, The MacMillan Bible Atlas, Yohanan, Aharoni, Michael, Avi-Yonah, Carta Ltd., 1977, 978-0-7318-1071-0, harv,
  • BOOK, Damascus: A History, Ross, Burns, Routledge, 2005,weblink 978-0-415-27105-9, harv,
  • JOURNAL, Il Minareto di Gesù, Stefano, Cammelli, Il Mulino, 2006, harv,
  • BOOK, First to Damascus: The story of the Australian Light Horse and Lawrence of Arabia, Hamilton, Jill, Duchess of, 2002, 978-0-7318-1071-0, harv,

External links

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