I've been very lucky to visit Syria before the war and terror started. I wanted to share a series of photos taken in Syria before the war to remind myself and everyone of a time when this country lived in peace and showcased its incredibly rich culture. Syria has been known as the ancient pearl and perhaps marks the beginning of civilization.
All photos below are original and mine
The Syrian war has been a slowly unfolding catastrophe. The country is in a deep crisis and many Syrians are war-weary. However, hope for a new beginning remains, although still distant. Despite the suffering of the past number of years, I hope that Syria is somehow able to rebuild itself, and regain a new sense of pride.
Umayyad Mosque / Great Mosque of Damascus
One of the largest and oldest mosques in the world, the Ummayad Mosque is considered by some Muslims as one of the holiest places in Islam. The mosque also marks the beginning of significant protests related to the cival war. Some 50 worshipers gathered outside the complex and started demonstrations with pro-democracy slogans. The memories I have of this mosque, I will always cherish. The atmosphere in the courtyard is fantastic: bustling and full of life, however never intimidating or hectic. A true spiritual place. While the famous Umayyad Mosque in Aleppo (a UNESCO site) has been ruined in the war, its brother in Damascus survived thus far (being based in the capital strictly under the president's rule).
City of Aleppo
Perhaps one of the most emotional stories can be told about Aleppo. According to some, it was 'one of the most beautiful cities in the world'. Truly elegant. Now, Aleppo has been blasted into ruins, being devastated by years of war. But for locals, the memory endures of a city that could be crowned as one of the true jewels of the Middle East. The old city contained beautiful architecture and entrances with fortified wooden doors. Aleppo drew visitors from all over the globe. And for a lot of reasons. While thinking about Aleppo, I get both angry and sad. You just cannot imagine how beautiful it was ...
The Citadel Of Aleppo
The citadel of Aleppo is believed to be one of the oldest and largest medieval palaces in the world. It has been occupied by the Byzantines, Greeks, Ayyubids and Mamluks. It became a UNESCO world heritage site in 1986. Unfortunately, the shelling and bombing of the Syrian war severely damaged the structure.
Ancient Ruins of Palmyra, Homs
Named one of the most important cultural centers of the ancient world, these ancient ruins are located in the Syrian desert. During the Syrian Civil War, Palmyra came under the control of the Islamic State. In March 2017, the Syrian Army (with help of Russia) retook the city. Unfortunately, again, many artifacts and buildings had been destroyed by the Islamic State. A true wonder has to be rebuild...
Roman Theatre at Bosra
One of the largest Roman structures to still exist, this large theatre (seating for c. 15,000 people) has been constructed with black basalt. It is one of the best preserved structure both in Syria and across the Roman empire. Substantial restoration took place between 1950 and 1970, which have further helped to protect the interior. Absolutely breathtaking structure. I heard it has been damaged by the war as well. Typing all of this makes me really sad.