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[Editor's note: Social upheaval that began early in 2011 and led to civil war makes travel to Syria ill-advised at this time. We'll remove this notice when conditions have improved.]


Syria has a rich history, fascinating ruins, ancient cities, bustling bazaars and above all, welcoming people — yet none of this makes headlines. Rather, Syria is usually in the news for all the wrong reasons, regarded as brother nation of the Axis of Evil. The reality is quite different. As a police state, Syria is one of the most secure in the Middle East, violence and terror acts are rare and cities are relatively crime free. Those who ignore the ...

[Editor's note: Social upheaval that began early in 2011 and led to civil war makes travel to Syria ill-advised at this time. We'll remove this notice when conditions have improved.]


Syria has a rich history, fascinating ruins, ancient cities, bustling bazaars and above all, welcoming people — yet none of this makes headlines. Rather, Syria is usually in the news for all the wrong reasons, regarded as brother nation of the Axis of Evil. The reality is quite different. As a police state, Syria is one of the most secure in the Middle East, violence and terror acts are rare and cities are relatively crime free. Those who ignore the State Department warnings will find ancient Damascus buzzing with life and packed with attractions. With its religious relics (including the head of John the Baptist), the Umayyad Mosque is the centerpiece of religious life. But Damascus is known more for its economic clout, and the Hamidiyeh Souq is a shoppers' paradise. Outside the capital, all roads lead to world class historical sites. Bosra to the south is the home of a well-preserved Roman theater while up north, Krak des Chevaliers never fails to inspire visions of marching Crusader armies. The Temple of Bel is the most impressive structure at the sprawling archaeological complex of Palmyra, located in the heart of the country. Perhaps most enticing for the traveler is Aleppo in the far north; the ancient trading city has bustling souqs, a splendid stone fortress and some of the most impressive architecture in the Middle East.

Michael Kohn
About the Expert

Michael Kohn is the author of Lonely Planet guides to Israel & the Palestinian Territories, South Africa, Tibet, Central Asia, Mongolia, and Sri Lanka.

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Michael Kohn for Triporati

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