Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Syria -- Damascus, part 2

On Wednesday we went to several places around the Old City. First we went to Azem Palace, an Ottoman palace built from 1749 to 1752. The palace has 45 rooms, and it is said that during the three years of its construction, no construction was undertaken anywhere in the rest of the city because all the masons were required to work on the palace.

Then we went to the Omeyyades mosque. Its history is quite interesting... it was built on a site that was originally dedicated to the worship of Hadad, an Aramean god, then in the 3rd century AD it was converted into a temple for Jupiter. In 379AD, Christianity became the official religion in Damascus and pagan cults were banned, so the site became home to a church. Then, in 705AD, the muslim ruler decided to build a structure that was meant to be the most splendid place of worship in the Muslim world. The mosque is famous today for the quality of its mosaics.

After that, we went to the souk to grab a bite of ice cream. It's not like either American ice cream or European ice cream, but it is so good! (Other than the fact that they roll it in pistachios. I don't like pistachios. So they were nice and didn't put any on mine.) I took a picture of the sign, so should you ever stop in the souk in Damascus and want ice cream, go here:

(By the way, the black shapes around the telephone? Those are numbers. It says 2235737 2212870.

And this is a statue of Saladin, also near the souk. Saladin led the Muslim armies during the Crusades and recaptured Jerusalem. He is seen as the symbol of Eastern victory over the West.

The last thing we did on Wednesday was walk through the Old City to the church that was supposedly built on the place where Saul converted and became Paul. The streets are really narrow here, and it's impossible to get a good picture of the fa├žade.

See? I told you the streets are narrow. And this isn't the worst of it.

This is one of the doors to the Old City.

And this is a Coke ad. I think Coke really is the universal language:

The young woman in this ad is the "Britney Spears of the Muslim world". Or so says my friend.

And here is the symbol on the front of what I like to call the "Saul-to-Paul church".


The Lone Beader said...

I love the musical instruments! Those are beautiful:)

nanderton said...

Hi! Can I use your picture of the huge coke ad in a university course brochure? It says globalisation in a way that all the stock exchange pictures I've downloaded from istock don't! If you're happy for me to use it would you mind emailing it to (as big a file as possible please for good print quality). Great pictures by the way.