- Cham Palace
- Omayyad Mosque
- Orchards, Fields, Pastures and Oasis
- Downtown Damascus
Damascus Panorama, Looking Southwards
After visiting Maalula, we drove up to the top of Jebel Qassioun, the mountain overlooking Damascus. Nasoh was rather tired by this time, as he accepted a little glass of wine that a monk gave to us in Maalula at Deir Mar Sarkis. While he obviously isn't completely teetotal, I think he usually only drinks maybe once a year or so, at special occasions such as weddings (like many Syrian Muslims). So the shot glass of wine had gone straight to his head and he was in need of a good nap by then. Still, he struggled on...
We were also in dire need of petrol, as Nasoh only realised that we were almost out halfway up the mountain when the engine conked out. After many exhortations of 'bismillah' (in the name of God) by Nasoh, Emma and I, he coaxed the engine back to life, and managed to get us up to the top of Qassioun, and back down to our hotel again.
The view from Qassion reminded me a little of Athens, but with minarets. Dead centre of the picture is the heart of new Damascus, with the stepped building to the right of the highrise cluster being one of Damascus' swanky five-star hotels (I can't remember which one - maybe the Cham?). We were staying just behind (to the south) of this. If you blow the picture up really, really, big you should just be able to make out the Omayyad Mosque and Old Damascus just to the southeast of New Damascus. Out in the distance is what remains of the orchards and pastures originally fed by the Barada and small local oases.