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Road to Damascus 40 – Souk Hamadiya

Description of Souk Hamadiya

Candies for sale at the Souk

Souk Hamadiya is THE SOUK of Damascus. It is the biggest covered souk in the Middle East. It’s totally like famous ;) There’s a main long throughfare that we call the tourist shark alley. It’s where all the tourists come through and every shop keeper yells out “welcome welcome!!” in heavy Arab accents and then proceed to totally rip you off. The stores in that area are very nice looking and remind me of an open air mall in the US.

Around this main avenue are blocks and blocks of different souks in every direction. There are shops and stands, free-standing carts and just ppl walking around with stuff hanging on their arms. One guy had fox skins on his arm! They sell everything from hijabs, jilbabs, books, stationary, toys, spices, dried fruit, soaps, candies, baklava, drinks, artwork, belly-dancing outfits!, swords, silver, wooden boxes and furniture, wedding dresses, lingerie, kids clothes, cloths, carpets.

There are also some very old mosques, maqaams, schools, khans and historical buildings in this area as it’s part of the Old City. Sometimes you just wander around and have no idea where you are and end up in some alleyway feeling like you’ve fallen into 1001 Arabian Nights or Aladdin.

I think I have many more pictures of the souk from my visit last time. InshaAllah I’ll add them here one day. Uh yeah about that picture with the juice guy RIGHT NEXT TO ME. I just wanted a picture of me making a drink from one of those press things, he just got really happy and got in the picture what could i do!!

There’s so much more to say about Souk Hamadiya and all the adventures we’ve had here, but I’ll leave it at that for now.

Link to the pictures of Souk Hamadiya

Road to Damascus 39 – Sarouji Beehive Village

Description of Sarouji Beehive Village

Beehive village

In the 1900s a European woman was traveling through Syria as part of a diplomatic caravan. She noticed unusual groupings of houses that looked like beehives. When they got closer they found that these clay shaped domed buildings were actually houses and people lived in them! She was astonished and news of these ‘beehive villages’ spread and became famous. There are very few of these villages left but we were able to visit one that still exists north of Hama.

A mother and her daughters still lived in them and whenever anyone came they would bring them in and serve them tea. You can see us sitting next to a Japanese tourist. There’s also a picture of us with the bedouin mother and her youngest daughter. The beehives are built from thick clay bricks and I guess they must be like desert igloos. The inside was nice and cool in the summer and they said it keeps it nice and toasty in the winter too :)

Link to the pictures of Sarouji Beehive Village

Jan 31, 2007 - road to damascus series    3 Comments

Road to Damascus 38 – Sandstorm

Description of Sand Storm

View of the sandstorm from our roof

One day while we were in Damascus on the last day in March my flatmate noticed it was getting darker and darker out. It was 2PM and it looked like the sun was SETTING! This really freaked us out and we went outside and started wandering around. We noticed then that it was RAINING MUD. And that it was all over our clothes and when we took a picture you could see these little particles in the air. Then we noticed the cars were covered with a thin layer of the red clay too. Look at the picture of us looking out the window. It was bright NEON ORANGE outside! We thought for a moment the Day of Judgement was comin…. so we went home and called up my brother and he was up on the roof taking a video of everything! So then we called my sister, and she and her husband asked their tutor and he said it was a sandstorm! Apparently extremely uncommon but they do sometimes happen here.

So of course me and my flatmate went out again ‘to experience a sandstorm’ proper and took those freaky pictures of the graveyard and took some video from my sister’s roof. The interesting thing is that when these weird kind of weather things happen in Damascus, everyone goes inside and PRAYS. They make repentance and pray. SubhanAllah!

Link to the pictures of Sandstorm