Cities in Asia – Cities in Syria – Damascus City
Damascus, capital and chief city of Syria, in southwestern Syria, on the Baradá River, near the Anti-Lebanon Mountains in the southwestern part of the country. The greater part of Damascus, including the rectangular ancient city, is on the south bank of the Baradá. Modern suburbs extend from the north bank. Damascus has long been an important commercial center. In former times it was famous for dried fruit, wine, wool, linens, and silks. Damascus has more than 200 mosques, of which 70 are still in use. Of these, the Umayyad Mosque, or Great Mosque, is the most important.
Damascus is one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities. According to 15th-century bc Egyptian inscriptions, Damascus was the capital of a city-state. During biblical times the city was subjugated by David, king of Judah and Israel, and later engaged in warfare with Israel. In 732 bc Damascus was conquered by the Assyrians, under Tiglath-pileser III, and in 333 and 332 bc it fell to Alexander the Great. After the death of Alexander in 323 bc, Damascus became part of the Seleucid Kingdom. It was conquered by Pompey the Great in 64 bc.
In 635 it was taken by the Muslims, and for a time before the foundation of Baghdad in 762, the city was the residence of the caliphs and was greatly adorned and fortified. In 1076 Damascus was seized by the Seljuk Turks, and in 1154 it fell to the Egyptians. Damascus was the headquarters of Saladin, sultan of Egypt and Syria. In 1401 the Turkic conqueror Tamerlane pillaged and burned the city. It was soon rebuilt and in 1516 was wrested from Egypt by the Ottoman Empire. Damascus was returned to Egyptian rule in 1832; in 1841 it was restored to the Ottoman Empire as part of Syria.
In 1940, during World War II, Germany established in Damascus a colonial regime. In 1941 a combined Allied force attacked Syria and took Damascus, which became the capital of independent Syria in 1946.