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Syria, Top 11 Historical Places That You Can Still Visit

The Syrian war which started in early 2011, have damaged and destroyed big parts of the country, but not all, and luckily and to the surprise of most people, so have most of the historical sites in Syria survived the brutal war.

And now, almost all the historical sites in Syria are once again possible to visit for foreign tourists.

aleppo citadel

Aleppo Citadel after the war

We all saw what happened to the old Roman Ruins of Palmyra out in the Syrian desert when Desh (ISIS) blew up parts of the historical city 2015.

Unfurutenly so have all historical ruins in terrorist-held Idlib been looted and heavily damaged, something which happened all over Syria early in the war by terrorist groups, to sell historical artefacts and relics on the black market.

Umayyad Mosque in Dascmus

Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, the 4th Holiest Mosque in Islam, it only received minor damage during the early days of the war, but it was fast restored.

While almost all historical places in government-controlled parts of Syria have survived, some with minor damage, others with major damaged from terrorist shelling and bombs.

But luckily today so have almost all historical important sites in Government-controlled part of Syria been restored, if not already restored so are work currently undergoing.

Golan Hight Syria

The Golan Height is open.

Palmyra Syria

The Roman Ruins is probably the most famous historical site in Syria that got destroyed during the war.

Top 11 Historical and Famous, Places that you can visit in Syria.

Krak Des Chevaliers The Greatest Crusader fortress in the world.

Krak des chevaliers

Krak des chevaliers outside Homs

The Krak is a massive Crusader fortress built during the First Crusade on a strategically important spot 40 kilometres from the city of Homs or Hims, called l’Chamelle by the Crusaders, in the middle of the Syrian desert.

What made this spot so strategic was that only one route led from the city of Antioch south to Beirut and the Mediterranean, and that route passed through Homs Gap.

Krak des Chevaliers sits atop the 650-meter hill which dominates the surrounding countryside and overlooks this ancient highway.

Krak des chevaliers

The main courtyard inside. Notice that the old structure is getting supported now

Click here to read more about Krak Des Chevaliers and how to visit.

The Krak was originally a much smaller fortress, built by the Emir of Aleppo.
In 1110, it was captured by Tancred, Prince of Galilee and one of the most famous Crusaders; the fortress later passed into the possession of Knights Hospitaller, the most powerful religious-military orders of the Crusades.

The greatly expanded fortress served as their base of operations in the Middle East for centuries.

Built according to the taste of its masters, Krak des Chevaliers is a typical example of Gothic architecture, uprooted from Western Europe and transferred to the Middle East.

Even today, it is one of the best-preserved examples of European medieval military architecture.

Krak des chevaliers

Local Repairmen bringing new stones to repair the damage inside the fortress.

The fortress could accommodate a garrison of 2000 soldiers. The inner protective wall is over 3 meters thick.
The inner castle is protected by seven towers, each with 10 meters in diameter.

The storeroom is 120 meters long and could hold supplies that would permit the defenders to survive a siege for about five years, with stables that could accommodate up to one thousand horses.

Krak des Chevaliers withstood numerous attacks by Muslim forces, even a siege by the mighty Saladin in 1188.

Krak des Chevaliers

Me enjoying the view from the top of Krak des Chevaliers overlooking the valley of Christians and the Passageway.

Legend has it that Saladin managed to capture the commander of the fortress and ordered him to make the defenders open the gates.

Allegedly he did as he asked, speaking in Arabic, but then commanded in French that his men defend the castle to the last warrior.

In the end, sheer force-of-arms was not enough to conquer these mighty walls.

Krak des chevaliers

Overview over the first courtyard.

The castle fell to a cunning trick. In 1271, Baibars Mamluk, Sultan of Egypt, managed to take the fortress after sending a forged letter to the defenders in the name of their master and commander in Tripoli ordering them to surrender the castle.

After their expulsion from Syria and Levant, the never-conquered (though easily duped) Knights Hospitaller moved their headquarters to Cyprus and then to Rhodes, retreating ever westwards, until they settled on Malta, where they survived until Napoleonic times as the Knights of St. John.

Krak des Chevaliers is on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

Krak des Chevaliers,homs,syria

Krak des Chevaliers as seen closeup from the backside.

Palmyra Once The Greatest Roman Ruins In The World.

Palmyra Syria

The standing Gate at Palmyra

Palmyra: LED BY QUEEN ZENOBIA, A third-century ruler who was later taken to Rome and paraded through the streets in golden chains, Palmyra was a rich city on the Silk Road, a gateway to the West for travellers returning from the Orient.

Palmyra Syra

Palmyra Roman ruins Syria.

Under Zenobia’s rule, Palmyra actually took territory from the Romans–and the short-lived Palmyrene Empire stretched from Turkey down to Egypt.

The empire lasted for thirteen years, and then Aurelian decided to take it back. He defeated the Palmyrenes and took Zenobia back to Rome, where she was accepted into society and eventually became a lively and much-admired Roman matron.

In 1980, it was declared a UNESCO world heritage site.

Palmyra Syria

What´s left of Palmyra

For most of the past few years, Palmyra was a small town with a large and lush oasis next to it; the ruins of the old city covered the plain for a good square mile.

Palmyra Museum

The Palmyra Museum in July 2020. 65% of all the historical artefacts were moved to Damascus before ISIS took over the city

Beautiful Romanesque columns carved from the local golden sandstone marched down long avenues; in the early morning and early evening, the brilliantly blue sky contrasted strikingly with the warm tones of the stone and the long, deep shadows.

Palmyra Syria

Palmyra in July 2020

It was an extraordinary place to visit, a reminder of a mysteriously lost empire, worthy of pulp novels.

Palmyra

Palmyra

Unfortunately, in May of 2015, the area fell under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Daesh), and its temples, monuments, and other buildings were subsequently blown up, razed, or otherwise destroyed.

Palmyra Syria

Ruins of Palmyra

Overall so was about 30% of Palmyra completely destroyed, including the famous Temple of Baal Shamin.

Aleppo The Great City Of Syria.

travel syria, damascus, aleppo

Aleppo Citadel, open to tourist

Aleppo: BEFORE IT BECAME A 21ST-CENTURY battleground, Aleppo’s historic Old Quarter embraced the world’s longest and oldest network of souks—Arabic for covered markets.

aleppo,syria,unesco

From Inside the Souk, most if it looks like this part.

There were 45 in all, dating back to medieval times and forming a 13-kilometre labyrinth were Syrians and foreigners came to shop, work, and socialize.

Between 2012 and 2016, government and rebel forces fought for control of Aleppo, which was then Syria’s biggest city. By the time government troops regained control of the Old Quarter, almost all the souks and all but a hundred of their 1,600 shops had been damaged or destroyed—demolished by explosives, pitted by shrapnel, and charred by fire.

Aleppo

The courtyard, the Minaret used to be at the back left corner.

Syrian authorities and foreign heritage organizations aim to bring the Old Quarterback to life by rebuilding the souk network bit by bit.

One of the first sections to be restored is the Saqatiya souk, a 100-meter cobblestone alley containing 53 shops.

Saqatiya means a seller of meat offcuts, and under the souk’s arched roof, vendors once again shout their wares, including fresh meat, nuts, sweets, clothing, and toiletries.

Aleppo

Locals in the streets of Aleppo

Al-Saqatiya, sometimes spelt al Saqatiyah, re-opened in 2019 and is a short stroll from the 11th-century Great Mosque, Aleppo’s war-damaged spiritual heart.

aleppo,syria

The entrance to the Grand Mosque, the Minerat used to stand on the right side.

Reconstruction of the souk cost $400,000 and took about eight months, the Associated Press reported.

The project employed about 60 workers and was funded and supervised by the Geneva-based Aga Khan Trust for Culture, which promotes the restoration of historic sites as a catalyst for social and economic development. Syrian architect Bassel al-Daher said about 30 per cent of Saqatiya was damaged in the war.

aleppo citadel 2020

Aleppo Citadel

He told AFP that its reconstruction was “the project of a lifetime.”

Aleppo’s location, midway between the Mediterranean Sea to the west and the Euphrates River to the east, put it at the centre of international trade for millennia.

Aleppo

The I Love Aleppo sign is a popular selfie spot for locals, notice the rebuilding of the hotel in the background.

Long-distance caravan trains brought Persian silks, Indian pepper, and other valuable cargoes to the city.

Products found their way west by way of European merchants who lived in Aleppo from at least the 16th century.

They tapped into a multi-ethnic and multi-faith commercial network that stretched as far as China.

Overall so was about 60% of the historical part of Aleppo damaged/destroyed.

Damascus, the capital of Syria and the oldest city in the world.

Damascus Syria

The I love Damascus Sign.

Damascus is one of the prominent places in Syria and its capital of the country.

The city offers endless of exciting and attractive spots to visit. Damascus is the largest city of Syria and also known as the oldest city in the world. In this city, you can enjoy some Arab food (ice cream, candy and cakes).

The Damascus sword Monument

The sword of Damascus monument

You will find numerous of amazing souqs that are spread across the city. They are considered to be exceptionally different and offer a unique flavour, undoubtedly a major attraction of the country.

As you walk about in the warm darkness of these streets with their fragrant scents, spices, and colourful merchandise spilling out of the shops onto the pavements, you enter the strange world of exotic legends.

Damascus,Syria

Streets are full of people, and Shisha Houses are full.

Damascus citadel

View over Damascus from the top of the citadel

One of the extremely popular souqs of Syria is the Souq Al Hamidiyeh, where you can find some of the best traditional goods of the country.

This souq belongs to 1863, to the rule of the Ottoman Sultan Abdul-Hamid, after whom the souq was called. It is covered with high iron vaulting, so old that sun rays filter through it into the darkness of the souq.

The shops here sell everything you need.

Al-Hamidiyah Souq

Inside the Al-Hamidiyah Souq in Damascus

The heart of the capital, Damascus, was kept away from the war, with the exception of mortar attacks by armed groups in the vicinity of Damascus.

In the last years of the war, Damascus regained safety and activity after the Syrian government forces took control of its surroundings.

Umayyad Mosque,Damascus

Umayyad Mosque, the 4th holiest place in Islam

No historical sites in Damascus are destroyed.

Busra And The Great Roman Ruins.

Busra roman ruins Syria

Busra Roman Ruins in Southern part of Syria

Busra Roman ruins Syria

Busra from December 2020

Busra Syria

Busra from December 2020

Busra syria

Busra in December 2020

Busra: One of the most ancient cities of Syria is Bosra which is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Syria.

Bosra is renowned all over the world as one of the oldest cities- it has been a capital of the Roman province in ancient times.

Busra Roman Ruins from above

Busra Roman Ruins from Above

The major attraction of this city remains it well-preserved ruins from the Roman culture: a Roman amphitheatre that has remained absolutely untouched in the time and shows the genius of roman architects in details. There are also many churches, mosques, monuments and arches. amphitheatre busra Syria

Reconciliation took place between the local population and the government in 2018, and there was calm in the place and visiting the area was available, but without overnighting due to the lack of accommodation services for tourists.
Overall so was only about 5% off Bura damaged in the Syrian war.

Homs.

Homs Syria

Green scenery outside the city of Homs

You will experience the largest amount of feelings when you visit Homs, the Syrian city that has suffered the most from the ravages of the war.

You will find the local population is much less than before the war, but with their lively spirit and desire for life, you will find them trying to restore what they can with modest means.

It was destroyed by the war and was restored after that.

Homs

One of the areas with almost complete destruction.

The same applies to the Church of Umm al-Zinar, which contains the belt of the Virgin Mary.

You will leave Homs with a huge amount of excitement.

homs syria

Some parts of the Old Souq in Homs is already open after aid from the UN.

About 20% of Homs was destroyed.

Hama

Hama: Hama is one of the most popular tourist destinations of Syria and fourth-largest city. It is located on the banks of the Orontes River in west-central Syria north of Damascus.

The city is renowned for its 17 norias used for watering the gardens, which it is claimed date back to 1100 BC.

Though historically used for the purpose of irrigation, the norias exist today as an almost entirely aesthetic traditional show.

Hama waterwheels Syria

The famous Hama waterwheels from summer 2020

 

Hama Water Wheels is one of the major tourist destinations of Syria, visited by tourist from all over the world.

They were built during the ancient Byzantine times, in order to move water to aqueducts, but only 17 of the wheels are preserved today.

Lots of people go there to learn more about life in Roman times and the genius of the architects, who have built them so perfectly and specifically.

Coming to Syria, it is obligatory to go and see the water wheels on the bank of Orontes River. It is considered to be an absolute must tourist attraction of Syria.

Latakia

Latakia is one of the most popular tourist destinations of Syria that dates back to the Ancient Greek era. Even today it is a prominent commercial port city of Syria.

Largely comprising of white stucco high-rising structures and streets lined with palm trees, Latakia is also home to the Tishreen University, which is one of the largest educational institutions in the country.

The city of Latakia offers some of the most interesting tourist spots.

Latakia Syria

Latakia countryside

The Citadel of Salah Ed-Din is one of the most impressive citadels of the country and one of the most famous tourist attractions of Syria.

This magnificent piece of work is completely surrounded by forests; this beautiful Citadel is still in good condition.

It is included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Site in the year 2006.

The place welcomes many tourists from the whole world, who wish to feel the atmosphere of the ancient citadel!

The ruins of Ugarit are believed to be the most prominent part of the country of Syria. It is also of great scientific interest from historians and archaeologists, because of the city that once existed there.

This city is sold as 6000 years and is well protected by a wall for protection.

The city was destroyed at the end of the Bronze Age by the so-called “Sea people” – this was a union of sea sailing people, who aimed to reach control over Egypt and caused damages and destruction in many Mediterranean countries.

Maaloula

Maaloula sYRIA

Maaloula

Ma’loula is a famous town located in Syria, situated around 56 km towards the northeast of the country’s capital. It was constructed into the rugged mountainside, at an altitude of more than 1500 meters.

Maaloula

Maaloula

For the Muslim inhabitants, the legacy is all the more remarkable given that they were not Arabized, unlike most other Syrians who like them were Islamized over the centuries but also adopted Arabic and shifted to an “Arab” ethnic identity.

Tartous

Tartous Syria

SeaSide Tartous

The city of Tartus (Tartous, is also correct) was the safest city during the Syrian War.

This Mediterranean coastal city is your base for visiting Amrit, the best-preserved temple in the world of the Phoenicians dating back more than 4,000 years ago.

Tartous Syria

The Phoenician Temple on the outskirts of Tartous

You can also find several tombs here in the countryside close to Tartus.

Click here to read more about visiting Tartous.

Syria is full of history as this area is where they found some of the oldest settlements on earth.

What about a stadium that was built long before the Greek Olympic stadiums? this is where the Greeks got their inspiration from. 230 meters long and 35 meters wide. It was used for horse races, etc.

Tartus beach

Tartus beach

Arwad

A Sea Side restaurant at Arwad island, the largest island in Syria

Syria

Streetside cafe in Tartous.

Sednaya

Sednaya was a great place to visit in Syria. This mountain village located 1,500 meters above sea level is most famous for its Greek Orthodox Monastery on top of a hill.

Sednaya

Sednaya

According to the legends of the Christians AND the Muslims, Holy Virgin Mary appeared here at the Our Lady of Saidnaya Monastery.

Climb up to the top of the monastery for amazing views over this mountain village.

Sednaya is located only 30 kilometres north of Damascus and easy to visit on a day trip from Damascus.

Sednaya

Sednaya

Other historical places which you can still visit in Syria

The Roman Ruins of Apema which was retaken by the Syrian Government in 2019 is now open for tourist again, but the place was looted and thousands of holes all over the area looking for historical treasures.
Ebla also recently open for tourists agian.

Historical places in Syria that you can not visit anymore.

While most of the historical places survived, so are there also, unfortunately, places that you can not visit anymore.

The Dead Cities and the famous Church of Saint Simeon Stylites which are both in Idlib are completely off-limit these days due to the fact they are located in terrorist-held areas.
The Ain Dara Temple is also off-limit in Turkish controlled areas.

Qasr al-Hayr al-Sharqi fort in the Syrian desert is currently not safe to visit; the same is Mari and Dura-Europos; all 3 are located in government-controlled areas, but are not safe.

The famous Mar Elian Monastery was completely destroyed by ISIS in 2015. 

Raqqa and Resafa/Sergiopolis are also not possible to visit yet.

How To Travel To Syria?

Travelling to Syria these days is not straight forward. Here you can read about everything you need to know about visiting Syria.

Or you can contact Ayoub from Marrota Travel; [email protected] +963954840021 which I highly recommend.

Syria, Top 11 Historical Places That You Can Still Visit After The War

Syria, Top 11 Historical Places That You Can Still Visit After The War, Damascus, Aleppo, Hama,Homs, Palmyra, Busra and more

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MB

Thursday 24th of December 2020

Thank you for the update. I traveled all over Syria in 2010 just 6 months before the conflict began. It was an amazing trip of a lifetime and I have been hoping to return ever since. When I visited al-Sharqi there were only a handful of visitors! My favorite was Bosra where I took a local bus from Damascus and met a college student on the bus who played tour guide and took me all over including a wedding reception and prayers at his local mosque. Such memories!

Christian L.

Thursday 24th of December 2020

I'm sure that was an amazing trip. Luckily so will it be possible to visit Syria once the covid situation is over. I Always wanted to visit al-Sharqi, and from what I've heard so is it still standing and undamaged so I will be visiting when the situation allows it.