Travels

Visit to Damascus

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The hostel where we stayed was very close to one of the doors to the Damascus medina. In less than five minutes we accessed it through the Hamidieh souk.


You take off your shoes and discover the wonderful square, huge and full of life of one of the most important mosques in the world of Islam. In its origins it was a Greek temple, then Roman, a church, later it became a church and a mosque at the same time and finally it became the quintessential mosque of the country.

We did not find too much tourism and the immense square was full of children running around, giving life and meaning to the religion so united to the same people. Inside the mosque is the head of Saint John Baptista - I think I have already seen three heads of Saint John Baptista in what is going on a trip ... - and Muslims performing their prayers, pupils learning to correctly recite the Qur'an. One can sit quietly and take photos with dissimulation. No problem.

Right next to the mosque is the mausoleum of Saladin. The sultan who sent the crusader Europeans to a house at the end of the 12th century.

In the eastern part of the city you will find a Jewish and a Catholic neighborhood. It is curious to see the contrast of the Latin cross and the minarets to heaven with a curious Christian church that in its inner courtyard sports a medieval painting with a Saint George and his dragon. In this area - near the Bab Sharqi gate - you will find bars with alcoholic beverages although the atmosphere we saw was nothing from the other world. We will tell the nightlife of Damascus in another post.

But the ideal in Damascus is to stroll through its intricate artery of streets and enjoy the human spectacle that the city offers. Try pistachios and peanuts in one of their stores. I think they are by far the best nuts I've ever tasted. Have a good pomegranate juice. Curiously, this fruit is found throughout the Middle East and is often taken as a drink in the street.

To eat I recommend Al hawali. A fantastic restaurant with an interior patio where you will see the best of Damascus. The girls come to show their best veils and the students and families get together to enjoy a good evening. Starters less than a euro -humus, salads with mint, eggplants, etc.- and succulent main courses for about 250 pounds. For the Damascus standard it is a good restaurant where we ate wonderfully. The service is good and with a final dessert of fruits and pastries to just burst. Although if you prefer to spend less you will find delicious shawarmas in any street

You also can't leave Damascus without trying a good hammam. We went to Nureddin. One of the oldest in the city. Clean, well maintained and beautiful inside. They charged us 600 pounds for a complete one: they put two bracelets on your wrist and inside, while you take a dip in the intense steam of the room, they do a skin scratch and a massage to look like new.

After a good hamman, the ideal is to go for coffee and have a shisha or narjelah as they call it here, in Jordan and Israel. You will find a few quiet bars where people drink their tea and smoke. Others who give European football in the open. The devotion these people have for football is impressive. We enjoy the an-Nofara, a small bar with a terrace at the back of the mosque, where a storyteller reads stories in Arabic while his conferees enjoy the atmosphere and relax with his narjelah and his delicious teas.

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