We visited Syria in the early spring of 2000, when President Hafez al-Assad (Bashar’s father) was in power, and discovered a country with hospitable people and a rich, cultural heritage. It’s tragic now to watch Syria decimated by a civil war that has killed nearly 100,000 people (including 7,000 children) and destroyed important cultural sites.
The United Nations has recently urged the Syrian regime and rebels to spare the country’s six UNESCO World Heritage sites, now being ravaged by air raids, shelling, theft and illegal digs. These include the cities of Damascus, Aleppo, and Bosra; the Krak des Chevaliers; the Palmyra oasis; and the ancient towns of northern Syria. Damascus and Aleppo are among the world’s oldest, continuously inhabited cities and the medieval Krak des Chevaliers is the world’s largest and best-preserved crusader castle.
Below are a few of our many images of Syria. We hope the day will return when Syria’ s people are again at peace and welcoming visitors from around the world.
Hama, located on the banks of the Orontes River in west-central Syria, is the country’s fifth largest city. Famous for its medieval norias (waterwheels), it has been a site of conflict in the current civil war.
The Grand Mosque of Damascus (also called the Umayyad Mosque), built from 705-715 AD, is the earliest surviving stone mosque.
The Citadel of Aleppo, one of the oldest and largest castles in the world, dates back to the third millennium BC. Part of the ancient city of Aleppo, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site.
A merchant welcomes visitors in Aleppo’s souk, a UNESCO World Heritage site, which has been mostly destroyed by fire in the current civil war. A doctor in Aleppo said, “Our hearts and minds have been burned…it’s not just a souk, it’s our soul too.”
Shepherdesses work long hours to make a living in Syria’s countryside.
Syrian boys, like these in the city of Homs, greet visitors from other countries with great curiosity.