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Museums in Syria

Damascus National Museum

Syria has many archaeological and artistic treasures. Unfortunately, many museums or archaeological sites are in dire need of maintenance and/or renovation. In addition, little attention seems to be paid to the need to preserve an archaeological site, or to make it more attractive and more accessible.

Among the many archaeological and architectural treasures, the temple complex in Palmyra and the Roman theatre in Bosra (see UNESCO World Heritage List) are some of the most impressive. Among the first Christian monuments are the well-preserved ruins of ad Qalat Semaan (Dayr Saman), a 5th century Byzantine church dedicated to Saint Simeon. In the same region, around Aleppo, several ‘Dead Cities’, abandoned villages, can be visited.

The Old City of Aleppo is also listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. It has a vast souk, and its Great Mosque was built by the sixth Umayyad Caliph al-Walid I, who earlier built the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus. In 1260, the Mosque in Aleppo was destructed by the Mongols. East of the Old City rises the Citadel. The Citadel was built by the Ayyubids during the 12th century, and was later extended and strengthened by the Mamluks.

In Damascus, the Umayyad Mosque (UNESCO World Heritage List) attracts hundreds of tourists every day. It was also built by the sixth Umayyad Caliph Walid I in the 8th century on the site of a Christian church, which in turn had replaced a Roman temple. The National Museum in Damascus, hidden behind a shady Sculpture Garden, exhibits archaeological finds from all the important archaeological sites in Syria, from the ancient city of Ugarit to Palmyra. It also contains an old synagogue (3rd century), found in Dura-Europos, which was removed from the site and rebuilt in the museum.



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