The number of tourists visiting Syria is up again. 1.2 million visitors entered Syria between January and March this year – that’s a 5% rise.
Syria attracts visitors from around the world. It has sites preserved from many periods of history – Syria’s a living history text book.
In Palmyra, there are the remains of the ancient Roman capital. Immaculately preserved columns and castles.
Damascus is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. Its mosque is one of the holiest sites in Islam, but the main prayer hall has a shrine to John the Baptists, where Muslims and Christians stand side by side in prayer, men and women pray in the same hall. Men and women have walked through the same souks just outside the mosque for millenia.
The Crusader castle in Krak de Chavaliers is said to be the most incredible in the world. There are other Crusader castles dotted around the country.
In the south the almost perfect black rock Roman Ampitheatre is still the scene of biannual performances in Bosra.
Syria is the only country where I’ve come across foreigners who are almost always living there by accident. Nearly every single one of them intended to stay for a month or six months but ended up staying long beyond then. That’s the magic of Damascus.
Has Syria’s recent newsworthiness attracted or dissuaded more people to visit?