Damascus, Syria

Damascus, in southwestern Syria, is widely believed to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. Its historical importance has led to the Old City's designation as a World Heritage Site. Westerners are perhaps best familiar with Damascus in relation to the Apostle Paul, who was baptized by Ananias on Straight Street - which can still be seen today. Damascus also has a connection with John the Baptist: his head is believed to be in a chapel within the great Umayyad Mosque, one of the oldest mosques in the world. Damascus has always been an important religious center - the Umayyad Mosque stands on the site of a Roman temple and a Christian church - and it remains so today. Among its many religious places are numerous mosques, an important Shia shrine, several churches, and the National Museum with ancient religious artifacts.


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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.
Damascus National Museum
This world-class museum displays important finds from excavations throughout Syria, most notably the world's first alphabet (from Ugarit) and 2nd-century frescoes from the synagogue of Dura Europos.
Shrine of Sayidda Zeinab
This is a beautiful Iranian-style mosque and shrine in southern Damascus, housing the tomb of Sayidda Zeinab, daughter of Ali and granddaughter of the Prophet Muhammad. It attracts Shi'a pilgrims from Iran and around the world.
Tekkiye Mosque
This Turkish-style mosque complex was designed by the great architect Sinan on order of Sulieman the Magnificent, and therefore looks much like a mosque you would see in Istanbul.
Chapel of St. Paul (Bab Kisan)
This stone chapel in Damascus incorporates materials from the Bab Kisan, the ancient gate through which Paul was lowered out of a window in Acts 9:25.
Straight Street
his historic street is as straight today as when it was walked by St. Paul. Today it contains many markets, the House of Ananias, several Roman arches and mosques.