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Contents / The world’s oldest capital Damascus

Inspiration to the poets and philosophers of the Near East, these lands tell the millennia-old story of humankind.

Traipsing through the streets of Damascus, you’re surrounded instantly by an uncanny sense of familiarity, as if you’ve come to visit a distant relative you’ve not heard from in ages. Your host seems at once familiar and aloof, the lines of his face recognizable though its expression is foreign. It is difficult to attribute this almost imperceptible familiarity merely to the Ottoman architecture, and the touch of Mimar Sinan, that looms before you in all its vitality. Physical and spiritual similarities with the city where you live also attract your notice. Just like Istanbul, this is a sprawling, labyrinthine city in whose streets you can easily lose your way. Like Ankara it is also an urban downtown with numerous pedestrian overpasses. Like all cities in Turkey its transport system favors the minibus. Like Antakya (ancient Antioch) and Mardin, it is a realm where the melodic tones of Arabic—a symphony of nasal sounds—reach your ears as you wander in the marketplaces.

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