Syria - Following the Traces of Palmyra
Syria was scarred by the civil war and the tense political situation in the last centuries. Once you see behind this curtain, however, you find a country full of history, architecture and great cultures, which left traces everywhere.
Geography - Hot deserts and mild lakes
Syria lies between Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, Israel and Lebanon at the Mediterranean Sea. It is divided into 14 governorates and its biggest cities are Damascus, Aleppo, Homs and Latakia. Apart from the high mountain regions, where freezing temperatures are common, Syria has dry, hot steppe and desert climate. One exception is the region at the Mediterranean coast, where visitors feel a pleasant maritime Mediterranean climate.
Nature - Famous rivers in the desert country
A vast desert steppe and the Syrian desert take up a major part of the country and are characteristic of the state in the Middle East but Syria has a lot more to offer than sand and rock. You find wonderful oases and fertile plains along the country's great and small rivers. The most important rivers are Orontes and the world-famous Euphrates, which is 676 kilometres long. In addition, Syria is very mountainous with the Coastal Mountain Range (also known as the "Alawiyin Mountains"), the limestone massif in the north of Syria and the Anti-Lebanon Mountains. The highest peak is the snowy Mount Hermon (2,814 m). Syria's flora and fauna has been severely reduced. Occasionally, you see some Aleppo pines as well as olive and fig trees at the Mediterranean coast or in the oases.
Culture - The rich cultural heritage of the Syrians
Although the country is scarred by the civil war, it has built up a reputation as a cultural travel destination. It was ruled by the Egyptians in ancient times and by the Babylonians and Persians later on. All these cultures have left their mark as well as a rich heritage. Damascus, also called the "City of Jasmine", is the capital of Syria and offers a number of interesting sights. The tourist centre, however, is the port city of Latakia. Another frequently visited city is Aleppo with its bazaar and the medieval Citadel. You see a magnificent crusader castle, the Krak de Chevaliers near the city of Homs. The absolute highlight for every culture enthusiast is the legendary ancient oasis city of Palmyra. It lies at the silk road and still shines as in ancient times. The ruins of Bosra, the Church of Saint Simeon Stylites and the ancient excavation sites at the Euphrates are also worth a visit.
Experience - Tasting meze on the souq
If you want to buy authentic and traditional products in Syria, you should visit one of the many souqs. These bazaars or markets, on which you see both the locals and travellers, are a real treasure trove. Scarves and curved daggers, spices and many other artefacts are popular souvenirs from the desert country. There is a large souq in Damascus' old town. The many delicacies which are offered here are particularly tempting. To get to know the country's cuisine, travellers should try all the small starters, called "meze" or "mezze". In the evening, you can visit one of the many bars and clubs in Damascus, which are popular with travellers.
Due to its political situation, Syria is not a popular travel destination in spite of its attractive travel regions. The only things which have become established are cultural and language trips. Despite all curiosity and thirst for adventure, travellers should not forget that there is a civil war in the country and stay in the safe tourist areas.
Syria is not suited for package holidaymakers. Adventurers and culture enthusiasts, however, will find a firework of ancient sights and magnificent buildings here.