Tag: Syria

Damascus, Syria

Damascus, Syria

According to abbreviationfinder, Damascus is the capital of the Syrian Arab Republic. At six thousand years old, it is one of the oldest cities in the world and is a bustling mix of cultures and eras. It is lavish in markets, monuments and mosques. A lot of history passed through Damascus, a city that, in addition, was for centuries an obligatory point of resupply and rest for the caravans of twenty thousand people and ten thousand camels that were on their way to the sacred Mecca ; there was still a month to go in the desert.

Between the mountains of the Anti – Lebanon and the desert of Syria, Damascus upward in the oasis of Ghouta, on a branch of the land route of silk. Here Venetians and Genoese came to meet the caravans.

History

The city began to be inhabited around 3000 BC. n. and., which is why it is recognized as one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, along with

  • Belgrade (Serbia), from 5200 a. n. and.
  • Byblos (Lebanon), from 5000 BC n. and.
  • Susa (Iran), from 4400 a. n. and.
  • Aleppo (Syria), from 4300 a. n. and.
  • Luxor (Egypt), from 3200 a. n. and. and
  • Jericho (Palestine) from 3000 BC. n. and.

It went through various golden ages: in the 7th century, for example, when it ceased to be in the hands of Eastern Rome, Byzantium, and became the seat of a Muslim empire.

In 1078 entrusted by Sultan Malik Shah I to his brother Tutush I, who then conquered Aleppo and proclaimed himself Sultan of Syria. Upon his death, his emirates were divided between his two sons. This was followed by the rivalry between the two emirates that continued for a long time until the extinction of the descendants of Tutush I.

For a long period Damascus preferred to ally itself with the Kingdom of Jerusalem against Zengi, but the armies of the Second Crusade besieged it, and Unar, the emir of Damascus requested help from Nur al-Din and Sayf al-Din, sons of Zengi, who they got the crusaders to lift the siege. After the death of Nur al-Din it fell under the control of Saladin. After his death, the emirate of Damascus was sometimes linked to Egypt, and was finally destroyed by the Mongols.

It had another golden age in the 13th century, although already a hundred years before, when Jerusalem fell to the crusaders, the city had been transformed into a site of Islamic resistance against the attacks of the “army of God”. The Mongols and the Mamluks passed by and in the 18th century, already in the hands of the Turks of the Ottoman Empire, it regained its brightness that had dimmed a bit. The Old City of Damascus was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. It occupies an area of 135 hectares, and was surrounded by a Roman wall, of which the north and east sides remain, and part of the south side. Eight gates are preserved, of which the oldest, Bab Sharqi, dates back to the Roman period.

Although the city still preserves Roman and Byzantine vestiges, most of the 125 buildings and monuments included in the UNESCO declaration correspond to Islamic art.

Urban morphology

A fortified wall, with its gates, surrounds the old city that has maintained, since the Umayyad era, its Islamic character, preserving at the same time Roman and Byzantine traces (streets oriented towards the cardinal points).

Covered markets, caravanserai, palaces, minarets and domes bear witness to the Islamic character of the old city. Among its many monuments, the Great Mosque, in which the main stages of Damascus history are inscribed, remains a prominent pilgrimage site and one of the holiest sites in Islam. Its architectural plan influenced those of several other mosques in Syria (Aleppo and Hama), in Turkey (Diyar Bakr), in Spain (Córdoba) and elsewhere.

Current population

Damascus has 4,700,000 residents (2007). 75% are Sunni Muslim, 15% of the population is Christian (from various churches), and the remaining 10% is subdivided into Muslim Alawis, Druze and Shiites. See population of Syria.

Geography

In general, Damascus is divided into two parts: the new city, with its modern buildings and promenades, and the old city, where the attractions of this 6,000-year-old capital are grouped, which is already mentioned in texts from four years ago. millennia and a half.

Climate

Syria has a Mediterranean climate with hot, arid summer and mild, rainy winter. The climate becomes more arid and hostile towards the interior of the country. On the coast, the average temperatures in July are 29 ° C, and in January 10 °. In the steppes, where most cities are located, temperatures are around 35 ° in the summer and 12 ° in the winter, while in the desert the temperature can reach up to 46 °. In the whole country there is not much rain, and it is concentrated on the coast.

Damascus, Syria

Syria Culture and Traditions

Syria Culture and Traditions

CULTURE: TRADITIONS

Customs and traditions are linked everywhere in Syria to Islam, orthodox or not, since there are numerous heretical sects. Typical examples of this are the Druze, people of a fierce and warlike nature who live in cubic houses perched on the mountains. The Druze or muwaḥḥidūn (exactly it means monotheists), as they prefer to call themselves, are very jealous of their customs. They are monogamous and maintain a rigid ritual in marriage. The bride-to-be is presented to her fiance by her mother and the girl gives the young man a Syriac dagger (ḥ anǧar) wrapped in a woolen scarf (kuffiye). The sword is the symbol of the protection that the husband owes to the bride, the scarf that of the dedication that the wife offers to the groom. Another Syrian lineage of Muslim origin, just as heretical as that of the Druze, is the nusayrīya or nusayrī lineage also known as the Alawites. The nusayrīya live in cubic houses in the mountains, like the Druze, and practice traditional body modeling rites of ancient origin. Ancient customs are preserved among the nomads of the desert, the Bedouin tribes, proud people who cultivate friendship as a sacred thing. Marriage, as in other realities of the Muslim world, still takes place on the basis of agreements between families which, formally, the daughters can oppose, but which in reality they are forced to accept. “The Bedouin also enjoy a certain freedom; they do not bring the veil and can meet with young people from other families without difficulty. The furnishings of the Bedouin tent are all the richer the higher the class they belong to: carpets, cushions, leather and copper trays. man does not differ much from the female one: long tunic and, on the head, a rectangular piece of cloth held by a silk cord around the forehead. Women use the izar, large brightly colored shawl, white for the poorest. These costumes are still widespread today despite the spread of Western fashion in the cities. The souk (market) is the great exhibition of national craftsmanship: terracotta crockery, fabrics, carpets, scimitars, daggers, rifles and revolvers with handles encrusted with gold and silver and goods of any kind, from food to furniture. Finally, a nod to Syrian cuisine which is essentially based on mutton and rice, cooked in many ways. The most famous dish is the magribi, a variant of Moroccan couscous.

CULTURE: CINEMA

According to Physicscat, the first Syrian approaches to cinema through Turkish domination date back to the 1910s, but only in 1928, with the film The innocent accused., there were the first timid hints of a local production, always left to individual initiative in the following decades, and always regularly frustrated. Very few titles, as many failures, no serious structure to support the tenacious efforts of some pioneers. At the end of the 1950s, on the initiative of the new Ministry of Culture, a beautiful series of informative and illustrative documentaries was made with adequate technical means, while the nucleus of enthusiasts began to expand in the country thanks also to the meritorious work of the critic and essayist Salāh ‘D’ehny, later director of the Arab Cultural Center in Damascus. The revolution of 1963 led to the creation of a general body of cinema, which was faced with imposing and difficult tasks: increasing the number of cinemas also in the countryside, establishing dynamic relationships with the private sector, developing culturally efficient co-productions, building studios, profoundly changing the market (import and distribution). Some results have been seen, such as hospitality to the exiled Egyptian director Tawfiq Salāh for The Victims (1972) and to Lebanese director Borhan Alaouye for Kafr Kassem (1974), both dedicated to the Palestinian drama; the birth of a Syrian director, Nabīl al-Malīh ‘, revealed in one of the three episodes of Men in the Sun (1970), in the film The Leopard (1972) and in the short film Napalm awarded in 1974 in Toulon; the revelation, in the latter location, of a young cinema with artistic ambitions also with the film Al-Yazirly (made by the Iraqi Qays Zubaydi but produced in Syria) and with the feature film Daily life in a Syrian village by Umar Amir’alay, scheduled for the 1976 Pesaro Film Festival. A good reception was given in 1983, at the “Arab film festival” in Paris, to the comedy L’incidente del mezzometro (1982) by Samir Dhikra (director in 1998 also by Torab al-ghoraba – Land for a Foreigner) and, at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival, in I Dreams of the City (1983) by Mohammed Malas. The same author was later awarded in Berlin for Ahlam el Madina (1985), and in 2005 he directed Bab el makam. A further opportunity for promotion and dissemination was provided by the participation of some Syrian directors and documentary makers at the Arab Film Festival (organized in the United States since 1997). Cinema in Syria remains a “not easy” area, due to the more or less latent pressures of the authorities, but among the emerging personalities between the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the new millennium, Nabil Maleh, director of al – Kompars (1993; The Extras); Abdellatif Abdelhamid, author of Rassaelle Chafahyia (1993; Oral Messages) and Qamarayn wa zaytouna (2001; Two Moons and an Olive Tree); Usāma Muḥammad (b.1954), author of Sunduq al-dunyâ (2002; The Box of Life) and Stars in Broad Daylight (1988), for which he received awards at more than one international festival.

Syria Culture and Traditions