The Syrian Arab Republic has a population of more than 18 million, lies on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean sea and is a country very aware of its Arabic heritage. Since the dawn of time, the area that is Syria has been a crossroads of civilization, the bridge connecting the cultures of the eastern Mediterranean and the fertile crescent, and the beginning of the Silk Road joining the West with the East. It was here that the cultures of Mari and Ugarit rose and fell; where the Assyrian, Sumerian, Phoenician, Babylonian, Egyptian, Greek and Roman empires and cultures met and influenced each other. Umayyad Mosque The Umayyad Mosque in Damascus site has housed sacred buildings for thousands of years, in each incarnation transformed to accommodate the faith of the time. An ancient Aramaic temple dedicated to the god Hadad is the oldest layer of architectural use to be uncovered on archeological expeditions. During the Roman period, the Temple of Jupiter occupied the space.
This edifice was transformed to a church in the fourth century. This church was expanded to form the Cathedral of St. John, situated on the western side of the older temple. After the Islamic conquest of Damascus in 661, during the reign of the first Umayyad caliph Mu'awiya Ibn Abi Sufyan, the Muslims shared the church with the Christians. The Muslims prayed in the eastern section of the ancient temple structure and the Christians in the western side. This collective use continued until Walid bin Abdul Malek's reign, when the prayer space became inadequate both in terms of capacity and the need for an architectural monument to represent the new religion. The caliph negotiated with Christian leaders to take over the space, and in return al-Walid promised that all the other churches around the city would be safe, with the addition of a new church dedicated to the Virgin granted to the Christians as compensation.
Syria Nature The Syrian Arab Republic’s climate is characterised by hot, dry summers and fairly cold winters. Nights are often cool.The most hospitable and pleasant climate in Syria is to be found near the coast. Here, Mediterranean conditions give hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters, with average daily temperatures of 29°C in summer and 10°C in winter. There is stunning natural scenery; rugged mountains; green valleys; deserts;beautiful swimming beaches and mountain peaks, perpetually covered with snow. Throughout the country there are magnificent ancient ruins, Medieval castles and fortresses and wonderful Islamic mosques.