Scenes from old Damascus, including the Umayyad mosque
Culture and history overdose in a short space of time. Definitely an area that begs repeated visits.
Wandering around the mosque, I met a variety of women, children, men. Some women picnicking in the mosque’s courtyard asked me to join them; two kids, Majed and Ghelia (“expensive”) befriended me and accompanied me around, also gave me a short interview.
The scene was tranquility, cooing pigeons, gorgeous light, gorgeous flowers and scents. It’s important to keep in mind that Syrians are struggling to live life as normal during this manufactured chaos.
The souk (market) was bustling with the usual scenes in Arab markets: spice vendors, freshly pressed juice vendors, Gold jewelry shops, odds and ends. I got my jasmin essence fix at the first perfumery I came across, and my zataar fix at the first spice vendor in my path.
Despite the aforementioned tranquility, the fascinating alleys and very pleasant people I met, one is also always aware that somewhere in the vicinity battles are being waged between the Syrian army and the seemingly endless variety of largely-foreign mercenaries. The ancient Christian town, Maaloula (from which I’m told most of the Christian inhabitants have fled after, as in other Christian areas, being repeatedly attacked by mercenaries) is said to have been re-gained by the Syrian army (see here and here also).
But for now, I’ll share these old Damascus scenes and hope that it remains as largely tranquil as it seems.