Note that we went to Syria over Christmas and New year 2007/08, long before the recent troubles which have devastated the country and its people.

Welcome to Syria
We went to Syria for two weeks over the Christmas period 2007. Not long, but long enough to glimpse the major attractions and convince us that we needed to go back again - at a warmer time of the year. We stayed in Damascus a couple of nights before heading off to the desert and the legendary site of Palmyra. We then headed back towards the coast to Hama which we used as a base to explore the famous crusader castle of Crac des Chevaliers and the 'dead cities' and then on to Aleppo with its famous souk and citadel. Then we headed back to Damascus for a final few nights - to explore the old town further and stock up on souvenirs. Overall it was everything and more than we expected. But in addition to the major sights our memories will be of the overwhelming friendliness of the Syrians and the fantastic food.
Damascus lays claim to the title of the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world dating from 3000BC, preceding the Egyptians who actually captured it in 1500BC. However, most of the present day city is definitely Arabic in nature including Great Mosque and the surrounding souks and old city. This is where we concentrated our time in this intriguing, colourful and bustling of cities.
Palmyra is probably the most well-known of Syria's attractions. It is certainly also one of the most impressive historical sites of the region. Its position, in the middle of the Syrian desert, only adds to its aura and even if you are bored with yet another ancient pile of rocks and stones you can't fail to be impressed by the desert surroundings. This whole scene dominated by a magnificent arab castle. The Palmyra page also exhibits some fine desert scenery from the trip there and back. And a video of the site itself. Enjoy...
Hama, Krak des Chevaliers and Apamea
Hama is a medium sized town midway between Damascus and Aleppo and so an ideal place to stop for a few days to explore the hinterland. There are plenty of things to see including two of the highlights of Syria, the crusader castle of Krak des Chevaliers and the Roman ruins at Apamea. Hama is also a worthy stop in itself. It is situated on the banks of the Orontes River in one of the few fertile areas of Syria. It has a pleasant central market area and a small, attractive and partially reconstructed old town. However, it is most famous for its water wheels which have been in place here for over 1500 years. In the middle of town there are a couple which form the centrpiece of an attractive park (were it not for all the litter that is a blight on most of Syria).
If anything the souk in Aleppo is even more facinating (and labyrinthine) than its counterpart in Damascus. Like Damascus, the souk is in the heart of the old city, surrounding the great mosque and consisting of a seemingly infinite number of small covered passageways down which travel people, donkeys and increasingly, small suzuki pickups often no wider than the alley. The only major difference is that the whole city both new and old is overlooked by the magnificant citadel.
We made quite a few videos during our trip for our podcasting site - for learners and teachers of English. This page has them all together.