Great Mosque of Damascus (Umayyad Mosque)
This historic 7th-century mosque stands on a site that has been sacred since 1000 BC. It has medieval mosaics on the facade and a shrine to John the Baptist inside.
This important archaeological site has been called the Pompeii of the Syrian Desert. It was abandoned in the 3rd century and is home to the oldest surviving house-church and synagogue ever found.
This ancient city features an exceptionally long Roman street and other classical ruins. In the Byzantine era, it was home to Evagrius the church historian, Theodoret the bishop, and Monophysitism.
Serjilla (also spelled Sarjella) gets Lonely Planet's vote as the "most eerie and evocative" of the Dead Cities of northern Syria. It also has the greatest number of semi-complete buildings.
Palmyra was once a great and powerful Roman city, as its impressive ruins attest. Substantial ruins of temples to Bel and Baal can be seen here.
Al-Bara (also called Bara) is the most extensive of the Dead Cities of northern Syria and one of the last to be abandoned. It held out as a bastion of Eastern Christianity until the arrival of the Crusaders in the 11th century.
Great Mosque of Aleppo
This Umayyad mosque was founded just 10 years after its more famous counterpart in Damascus. Recently restored to gleaming beauty, it is notable for its geometric courtyard paving and shrine of Zechariah.
Located 50 km from Damascus, Maalula is the only place in the world that still speaks Aramaic, the language of Jesus. Home to two ancient Christian monasteries, it attracts Christian and Muslim pilgrims.