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Damascus

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Dec 15, 2021

Damascus (دمشق) is the capital of Syria and its largest city, with about 4.5 million people.

For other places with the same name, see Damascus (disambiguation).

WARNING:Travel to Damascus is not recommended at this time. Since 2011 the severe political crisis in the country has escalated into a civil war. Tens of thousands of people having been injured and killed by opposition paramilitary groups or government security forces. Attacks have been indiscriminate and use of lethal chemical weapons have been reported. Eastern Ghouta and Yarmouk Camp suffered massive damage in the fight to retake Damascus, and travel there can easily be fatal. However, now that Damascus is firmly under government control, central Damascus is likely much safer than other areas of Syria. Damascus Airport has also become safe enough for a limited amount of flights. Even here, however, it is important to avoid non-essential travel, as there is an extremely high risk of terror attacks.

If you are already in Syria, stay away from large public gatherings and try to gain independent information about the political and civil situation.

(Information last updated Mar 2018)
The Eastern Gate at the end of the Via Recta

. . . Damascus . . .

Established between 10,000 to 8,000 BC, Damascus is credited with being the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. The world heritage listed old-walled city, in particular, feels very ancient and largely consists of a maze of narrow alleys, punctuated by enigmatic doors that lead into pleasing, verdant courtyards and blank-faced houses. The old city still has an authentic medieval feel to it, although this was quickly vanishing due to the increasing tourist traffic as the city continued to be highlighted as an attraction. Life, however, goes on in the old-walled city, which is still the religious and social centre of the city.

Due to the Syrian Civil War which began in 2011, many services in the city, including transportation, accommodation and consular services, have been severely disrupted. Power interruptions are frequent, the Syrian pound currency has been subject to hyperinflation (to the point where prices listed here are meaningless) and the war is not far from mind even during the brief moments when life goes on normally. Many have left the country, been drafted into military service or killed in action.

Large parts of the article describes the situation before the war. As of October 2018, travel to most of Damascus is still considered highly unsafe.

The airport is relatively well-equipped with most standard services. The tax-free assortment is limited, but prices are very low, especially on perfume. You might find better bargains on goods such as Lebanese wine, arak (an unsweetened, aniseed-flavored, alcoholic beverage) and similar items before departing the airport.

Getting Syrian pounds at Damascus International Airport might be tricky, as the change counters only accept US dollars. There are two ATMS in the main lobby that accept credit cards and foreign debit cards, but they tend to be unreliable. Your best bet is to bring a small amount of US dollars with you into Syria, and change it at the airport until you can withdraw from Damascus ATMs.

The average fare from the airport to the city is 1500 SP. the prices became that high because nowadays only Taxi Companies are allowed to pickup customers from the Airport, Fares are typically about 500 SP going from the city to the airport by Taxi, however, may vary depending on your bargaining skills.

There are also buses departing to and from Baramkeh bus station in the centre of town (airport buses are the only ones which serve this bus station now – all other services have moved to the new out of town Soumaria bus station). The price is 45 SP + 25 for your luggage and there are departures every half an hour, 24 hours a day. At the airport, come out of the terminal and turn right – you will find the bus at the end of the building. There is a small ticket office. The buses have been upgraded in recent years and have become very good.

The bus will drop you a bit far from the Old City, but there many taxis around to get you there. Make sure to ask for the meter, and you should pay less than 50 SP, depending on traffic.

. . . Damascus . . .

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. . . Damascus . . .