大马士革的尼古拉（Nicolaus of Damascus）在其历史的第四本书中这样说：“亚伯拉罕是外国人，在大马士革作王，他从巴比伦上空带出一支军队，被称为迦勒底人的土地：但是，经过很长一段时间， ，他起来，与他的人民一起从那个国家被遣散，进入那片土地，当时称为迦南地，但现在是犹大地，这就是他的后代成为众人的时候；现在，亚伯拉罕的名字在大马士革国家中仍然享有盛誉；还有一个以他命名的村庄，即亚伯拉罕的住所。
大马士革被亚历山大大帝征服。亚历山大在公元前323年去世后，大马士革成为塞琉古和托勒密帝国之间斗争的场所。这座城市的控制权经常从一个帝国转移到另一个帝国。亚历山大将军之一的塞琉古斯一世·尼卡托（Seleucus I Nicator）使安提阿（Antioch）成为他庞大帝国的首都，这导致大马士革的重要性与北部拉塔基亚（Latakia）等塞琉古新城市相比有所下降。后来，德米特里三世（Demetrius III Philopator）根据希腊的河马体系重建了这座城市，并更名为“德米特里阿塔斯（Demetrias）”。
穆罕默德与大马士革人民的第一次互动是在扎伊德·本·哈里斯塔（Hisma）远征队（哈里斯·本·阿比·希米尔·加沙尼）派遣大亚士革国王哈里斯·本·哈桑尼（Shiris bin Gahsanni）时，他与大马士革人民进行了第一次交往。穆罕默德在信中说：“和平跟随遵循真正指导的人。被告知我的宗教将在所有地方盛行。您应该接受伊斯兰教，而您所掌握的一切仍将属于您”
在哈里发·乌马尔统治期间，叙利亚的大部分乡村被拉希顿·哈里发征服，大马士革本身在9月至635年8月被阿拉伯穆斯林将军哈利德·本·瓦尔德（Khalid ibn al-Walid）征服。他的军队此前曾试图在634年4月占领这座城市，但没有成功。由于大马士革现在掌握在阿拉伯穆斯林手中，拜占庭人对失去近东最负盛名的城市感到震惊，因此决定撤回对它的控制。在赫拉克留斯皇帝的领导下，拜占庭人调动一支精于拉希敦的军队。他们在636年春季进军叙利亚南部，因此哈立德·本·沃利德的部队从大马士革撤离，为新的对抗做准备。八月份，这两个大国在雅尔穆克河上会合，在那里进行了一场重大战斗，以决定性的穆斯林胜利告终，巩固了后者在叙利亚和巴勒斯坦的统治。
在穆斯林统治这座城市的同时，大马士革的人口仍然大部分是基督教徒，即东正教徒和独行侠，其中麦加，麦地那和叙利亚沙漠的穆斯林社区日益壮大。分配给被选为伊斯兰叙利亚首都的总督是Mu'awiyaI。哈里发·阿里在661年去世后，Mu'awiya被选为不断发展的伊斯兰帝国的哈里发。由于他的家族Umayyads在该市拥有大量资产，并且由于与Hijaz以及该地区的基督教阿拉伯部落之间的传统经济和社会联系，Mu'awiya将大马士革确定为大马士革的首都。整个哈里发。随着哈里发·阿卜杜勒·马利克（Caliph Abd al-Malik）在685年的提升，引入了伊斯兰造币系统，哈里发各省的所有盈余收入都转交给了大马士革国库。阿拉伯语也被确立为官方语言，使该市的穆斯林少数民族在行政事务上比讲阿拉伯语的基督徒更具优势。必须指出的是，在大马士革被穆斯林征服的时候，大多数阿拉伯人要么是异教徒要么是基督徒。大马士革本身主要是阿拉伯语的阿拉伯人。
阿卜杜勒·马利克（Abd al-Malik）的继任者瓦利德（Al-Walid）于706年开始建造大马士革大清真寺（被称为Umayyad清真寺）。该遗址最初是圣约翰基督教大教堂，而穆斯林则保留了该建筑对施洗约翰的奉献精神。 。到715年，清真寺已建成。 Al-Walid于同年去世，首先由Suleiman ibn Abd al-Malik继任，然后由Umar II继任，后者各自在724年的Hisham统治之前短暂统治。有了这些继承权，大马士革的地位逐渐提高由于苏莱曼选择拉姆拉（Ramla）作为他的住所，后来希沙姆（Hisham）选择了雷萨法（Resafa），削弱了他的力量。后者在743年被谋杀后，Umayyads的哈里发（当时从西班牙延伸到印度）由于大规模起义而瓦解。在744年的马克旺二世统治期间，帝国的首都被迁至北部Jazira地区的Harran。
阿巴斯国王任命的反对派土耳其总督艾哈迈德·本·图伦（Ahmad ibn Tulun）在878-79年从他的霸主手中征服了包括大马士革在内的叙利亚。为了尊重先前的Umayyad统治者，他在穆阿维耶（Mu'awiya）市墓地上竖起了一座神社。大马士革的图卢尼德统治很短暂，一直持续到906年，之后被什叶派伊斯兰教徒信奉的Qarmatian取代。由于无法控制所占领的大量土地，加尔马人从大马士革撤出，新的朝代伊克西迪德控制了这座城市。他们保持了大马士革从阿勒颇的阿拉伯哈姆尼德王朝和巴格达的阿拔斯王朝的独立直到967年。该市经历了一段不稳定时期，随后是968年的Qarmatian袭击，970年的拜占庭袭击，以及法蒂米德人的压力越来越大在南部，在北部的Hamdanids。
随着11世纪后期塞尔柱克突厥人的到来，大马士革再次成为独立国家的首都。它由阿布·萨伊德·泰姬陵（Abu Sa'id Taj ad-Dawla Tutush I）统治，始于1079年，他的儿子阿布·纳斯尔·杜卡（Abu Nasr Duqaq）于1095年继位。塞尔柱克人在大马士革建立了法院，并有系统地扭转了什叶派在该市的统治。该市还通过资助宗教机构的私人捐赠扩大了宗教生活（马达拉斯）和医院（Maristans）。大马士革很快成为穆斯林世界传播伊斯兰思想的最重要中心之一。杜卡克（Duqaq）于1104年去世后，他的导师（阿塔贝格），陶格金（Toghtekin）接管了大马士革和塞尔柱克王朝的Burid家族。在杜卡克（Duqaq）和托格特金（Toghtekin）的领导下，大马士革经历了稳定，地位提高和在贸易中恢复作用。此外，该市逊尼派多数派成员成为更大的逊尼派框架的一部分，该框架由各个突厥王朝有效地管理，而这些突厥王朝又受设在巴格达的阿拔斯王朝的道德权威管辖。
除1832至1840年埃及易卜拉欣·帕夏（Ibrahim Pasha）的短暂占领外，奥斯曼帝国还保留了400年。由于大麦加朝圣者大麦加朝圣者大篷车之一作为出发点的重要性，大马士革受到了更多的关注by the Porte than its size might have warranted—for most of this period, Aleppo was more populous and commercially more important. In 1560 the Tekkiye al-Sulaimaniyah, a mosque and khan for pilgrims on the road to Mecca, was completed to a design by the famous Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan, and soon afterwards a madrasa was built adjoining it.
Under Ottoman rule, Christians and Jews were considered dhimmis and were allowed to practice their religious precepts. The Damascus affair that took place in 1840 was an incident in which the accusation of ritual murder was brought against members of the Jewish community of Damascus. In addition the massacre of Christians in 1860 was also one of the most notorious incidents of these centuries, when fighting between Druze and Maronites in Mount Lebanon spilled over into the city. Several thousand Christians were killed, with many more being saved through the intervention of the Algerian exile Abd al-Qadir and his soldiers (three days after the massacre started), who brought them to safety in Abd al-Qadir's residence and the citadel. The Christian quarter of the old city (mostly inhabited by Catholics), including a number of churches, was burnt down. The Christian inhabitants of the notoriously poor and refractory Midan district outside the walls (mostly Orthodox) were, however, protected by their Muslim neighbours.
American Missionary E.C. Miller records that in 1867 the population of the city was 'about' 140,000, of whom 30,000 were Christians, 10,000 Jews and 100,000 'Mohammedans' with fewer than 100 Protestant Christians.
The Turkish Hospital in Damascus on 1 October 1918, shortly after the entry of the Australian 4th Light Horse Regiment
Damascus in flames as a result of the French air raid on 18 October 1925
The historical al-Merjeh square
In the early years of the 20th century, nationalist sentiment in Damascus, initially cultural in its interest, began to take a political colouring, largely in reaction to the turkicisation programme of the Committee of Union and Progress government established in Istanbul in 1908. The hanging of a number of patriotic intellectuals by Jamal Pasha, governor of Damascus, in Beirut and Damascus in 1915 and 1916 further stoked nationalist feeling, and in 1918, as the forces of the Arab Revolt and the British Imperial forces approached, residents fired on the retreating Turkish troops.
On 1 October 1918, T. E. Lawrence entered Damascus, the third arrival of the day, the first being the Australian 3rd Light Horse Brigade, led by Major A.C.N. 'Harry' Olden. Two days later, 3 October 1918, the forces of the Arab revolt led by Prince Faysal also entered Damascus. A military government under Shukri Pasha was named and Faisal ibn Hussein was proclaimed king of Syria. Political tension rose in November 1917, when the new Bolshevik government in Russia revealed the Sykes-Picot Agreement whereby Britain and France had arranged to partition the Arab east between them. A new Franco-British proclamation on 17 November promised the "complete and definitive freeing of the peoples so long oppressed by the Turks." The Syrian National Congress in March adopted a democratic constitution. However, the Versailles Conference had granted France a mandate over Syria, and in 1920 a French army commanded by the General Mariano Goybet crossed the Anti-Lebanon Mountains, defeated a small Syrian defensive expedition at the Battle of Maysalun and entered Damascus. The French made Damascus capital of their League of Nations Mandate for Syria.
When in 1925 the Great Syrian Revolt in the Hauran spread to Damascus, the French suppressed with heavy weaponry, bombing and shelling the city on 9 May 1926. As a result, the area of the old city between Al-Hamidiyah Souq and Medhat Pasha Souq was burned to the ground, with many deaths, and has since then been known as al-Hariqa ("the fire"). The old city was surrounded with barbed wire to prevent rebels infiltrating from the Ghouta, and a new road was built outside the northern ramparts to facilitate the movement of armored cars.
On 21 June 1941, 3 weeks into the Allied Syria-Lebanon campaign, Damascus was captured from the Vichy French forces by a mixed British Indian and Free French force. The French agreed to withdraw in 1946, thus leading to the full independence of Syria. Damascus remained the capital.
Bank Al-Sharq and the Blue Tower Hotel in Damascus
The historical role that Damascus played as an important trade center has changed in recent years due to political development in the region as well as the development of modern trade. Most goods produced in Damascus, as well as in Syria, are distributed to countries of the Arabian peninsula. Damascus has also held an annual international trade exposition every fall, since 1955.
The tourism industry in Damascus has a lot of potential, however the current civil war has hampered these prospects. The abundance of cultural wealth in Damascus has been modestly employed since the late 1980s with the development of many accommodation and transportation establishments and other related investments. Since the early 2000s, numerous boutique hotels and bustling cafes opened in the old city which attract plenty of European tourists and Damascenes alike. In 2009 new office space was built and became available on the real estate market. The real-estate sector is stopped due to the terrorism and exodus of the population. Damascus is home to a wide range of industrial activity, such as textile, food processing, cement and various chemical industries. The majority of factories are run by the state, however limited privatization in addition to economic activities led by the private sector, were permitted starting in the early 2000s with the liberalization of trade that took place. Traditional handcrafts and artisan copper engravings are still produced in the old city.
The Damascus stock exchange formally opened for trade in March 2009, and the exchange is the only stock exchange in Syria. It is currently located in the Barzeh district, within Syria's financial markets and securities commission. Its final home is to be the upmarket business district of Yaafur.
Three Damascene women; lady wearing qabqabs, a Druze, and a peasant, 1873
The estimated population of Damascus in 2011 was 1,711,000. The Kurds are the largest minority group, with a population of approximately 300,000. Damascus is the centre of an over-crowded metropolitan area with an estimated population of 5 million. The metropolitan area of Damascus includes the cities of Douma, Harasta, Darayya, Al-Tall and Jaramana.
The majority of the population in Damascus came as a result of rural-urban migration.
The majority of the inhabitants of Damascus are Sunni Muslims, whereas Alawites and Twelver Shi'ites make up a sizeable minority. It is believed that there are more than 2,000 mosques in Damascus, the most well-known being the Umayyad Mosque. Christians represent about 15%-20% of the population. Several Eastern Christian rites have their headquarters in Damascus. The Christian districts in the city are Bab Tuma, Qassaa and Ghassani. Each with many churches, most notably the ancient Chapel of Saint Paul. At the suburb Soufanieh a series of apparitions of the Virgin Mary have reportedly been observed between 1982 and 2004.
There was a small Jewish community namely in what is called Haret al-Yahud the Jewish quarter. They are the remnants of an ancient and much larger Jewish presence in Syria, dating back at least to Roman times, if not before to the time of King David.
Sufism throughout the second half of the 20th century has been an influential current in the Sunni religious practises, particularly in Damascus. The largest women-only and girls-only Muslim movement in the world happens to be Sufi-oriented and is based in Damascus, led by Munira al-Qubaysi. Syrian Sufism has its stronghold in urban regions such as Damascus, where it also established political movements such as Zayd, with the help of a series of mosques, and clergy such as Abd al-Ghani al-Nabulsi, Sa'id Hawwa, Abd al-Rahman al-Shaghouri and Muhammad al-Yaqoubi.
Typical ancient Damascene street
Damascus has a wealth of historical sites dating back to many different periods of the city's history. Since the city has been built up with every passing occupation, it has become almost impossible to excavate all the ruins of Damascus that lie up to 8 feet (2.4 m) below the modern level. The Citadel of Damascus is located in the northwest corner of the Old City.的 Damascus Straight Street (referred to in the conversion of St. Paul in Acts 9:11), also known as the Via Recta, was the decumanus (East-West main street) of Roman Damascus, and extended for over 1,500 meters (4,900 ft). Today, it consists of the street of Bab Sharqi and the Souk Medhat Pasha, a covered market. The Bab Sharqi street is filled with small shops and leads to the old Christian quarter of Bab Tuma (St. Thomas's Gate). Medhat Pasha Souq is also a main market in Damascus and was named after Midhat Pasha, the Ottoman governor of Syria who renovated the Souk. At the end of the Bab Sharqi street, one reaches the House of Ananias, an underground chapel that was the cellar of Ananias's house. The Umayyad Mosque, also known as the Grand Mosque of Damascus, is one of the largest mosques in the world and also one of the oldest sites of continuous prayer since the rise of Islam. A shrine in the mosque is said to contain the body of St. John the Baptist. The mausoleum where Saladin was buried is located in the gardens just outside the mosque. Sayyidah Ruqayya Mosque, the shrine of the youngest daughter of Husayn ibn Ali, can also be found near the Umayyad Mosque. The ancient district of Amara is also within a walking distance from these sites. Another heavily visited site is Sayyidah Zaynab Mosque, where the tomb of Zaynab bint Ali is located.
Shias, Fatemids and Dawoodi Bohras believe that after the battle of Karbala (680 AD), in Iraq, the Umayyad caliph Yezid brought Imam Husain's head to Damascus, where it was first kept in the courtyard of Yezid Mahal, now part of Umayyad Mosque complex. All other remaining members of Imam Husain's family (left alive after Karbala) along with heads of all other companions, who were killed at Karbala, were also brought to Damascus. These members were kept as prisoners on the outskirts of the city (near Bab al-Saghir), where the other heads were kept at the same location, now called "Raous-us-sohda-e-karbala", visited by all Shias. There is a qibla (place of worship) marked at the place, where Imam Ali-Zain-ul-Abedin used to pray while in captivity.
Walls and gates of Damascus
The Old City of Damascus with an approximate area of 128 hectares is surrounded by ramparts on the northern and eastern sides and part of the southern side. There are seven extant city gates, the oldest of which dates back to the Roman period. These are, clockwise from the north of the citadel:
Bab al-Faradis ("the gate of the orchards", or "of the paradise")
Bab al-Salam ("the gate of peace"), all on the north boundary of the Old City
Bab Tuma ("Touma" or "Thomas's Gate") in the north-east corner, leading into the Christian quarter of the same name,
Bab Sharqi ("eastern gate") in the east wall, the only one to retain its Roman plan
Bab Kisan in the south-east, from which tradition holds that Saint Paul made his escape from Damascus, lowered from the ramparts in a basket; this gate has been closed and turned into Chapel of Saint Paul marking this event,
Bab al-Saghir (The Small Gate)
Bab al-Jabiya at the entrance to Souk Midhat Pasha, in the south-west.
Other areas outside the walled city also bear the name "gate": Bab al-Faraj, Bab Mousalla and Bab Sreija, both to the south-west of the walled city.
Churches in the old city
Chapel of Saint Paul
House of Saint Ananias
Mariamite Cathedral of Damascus
The Roman Catholic Cathedral in Zaitoon (Olive) Alley
Saint John the Damascene Church
Saint Paul's Laura
Saint George's Syriac Orthodox Cathedral
Islamic sites in the old city
Sayyidah Ruqayya Mosque
Bab Saghir Cemetery
Mausoleum of Saladin
Nabi Habeel Mosque
Nur al-Din Madrasa
Khan As'ad Pasha
Khan Sulayman Pasha
Old Damascene houses
Threats to the future of the old City
Narrow alley in old Damascus
Due to the rapid decline of the population of Old Damascus (between 1995–2005 more than 20,000 people moved out of the old city for more modern accommodation), a growing number of buildings are being abandoned or are falling into disrepair. In March 2007, the local government announced that it would be demolishing Old City buildings along a 1,400-meter (4,600 ft) stretch of rampart walls as part of a redevelopment scheme. These factors resulted in the Old City being placed by the World Monuments Fund on its 2008 Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites in the world. It is hoped that its inclusion on the list will draw more public awareness to these significant threats to the future of the historic Old City of Damascus.
Current state of old Damascus
In spite of the recommendations of the UNESCO World Heritage Center:
Souk El Atik, a protected buffer zone, was destroyed in three days in November 2006;
King Faysal Street, a traditional hand-craft region in a protected buffer zone near the walls of Old Damascus between the Citadel and Bab Touma, is threatened by a proposed motorway.
In 2007, the Old City of Damascus and notably the district of Bab Tuma have been recognized by The World Monument Fund as one of the most endangered sites in the world.
In October 2010, Global Heritage Fund named Damascus one of 12 cultural heritage sites most "on the verge" of irreparable loss and destruction.
Traffic in Damascus in 2008
The main airport is Damascus International Airport, approximately 20 kilometres (12 mi) away from the city, with connections to many Asian, European, African, and recently, South American cities. Streets in Damascus are often narrow, especially in the older parts of the city, and speed bumps are widely used to limit the speed of vehicles.
Public transport in Damascus depends extensively on minibuses. There are about one hundred lines that operate inside the city and some of them extend from the city center to nearby suburbs. There is no schedule for the lines, and due to the limited number of official bus stops, buses will usually stop wherever a passenger needs to get on or off. The number of buses serving the same line is relatively high, which minimizes the waiting time. Lines are not numbered, rather they are given captions mostly indicating the two end points and possibly an important station along the line and Taxicab.
Served by Chemins de Fer Syriens, the former main railway station of Damascus was al-Hejaz railway station, about 1 km (0.62 mi) west of the old city. The station is now defunct and the tracks have been removed, but there still is a ticket counter and a shuttle to Damacus Kadam station in the south of the city, which now functions as the main railway station.
In 2008, the government announced a plan to construct a Damascus Metro with opening time for the green line scheduled for 2015. The green line will be an essential West-East axis for the future public transportation network, serving Moadamiyeh, Sumariyeh, Mezzeh, Damascus University, Hijaz, the Old City, Abbassiyeen and Qaboun Pullman bus station. A four-line metro network is expected be in operation by 2050.
National Museum of Damascus
Damascus was chosen as the 2008 Arab Capital of Culture. The preparation for the festivity began in February 2007 with the establishing of the Administrative Committee for "Damascus Arab Capital of Culture" by a presidential decree.
Sports and leisure
Popular sports include football, basketball, swimming, tennis, table tennis, equestrian and chess. Damascus is home to many football clubs that participate in the Syrian Premier League including Al-Jaish, Al-Shurta, Al-Wahda and Al-Majd. Many Other sport clubs are located in several districts of the city: Barada SC, Qasioun SC, Nidal SC, Al-Muhafaza, Al-Fayhaa SC, Al-Thawra SC, Dummar SC and Al-Arin SC.
The fifth and the seventh Pan Arab Games were held in Damascus in 1976 and 1992 respectively.
Damascus has quite busy midnights. Coffeehouses, where —in addition to Arabic coffee and tea— nargileh (water pipes) are served, proliferate Damascus. Card games, tables (backgammon variants), and chess are activities frequented in cafés.
Tishreen Park is one of the largest and popular parks in Damascus. It is home to the annual Damascus Flower Show. Other parks include: al-Jahiz, al-Sibbki, al-Tijara, al-Wahda, etc. Damascus' Ghouta (Oasis) is also a popular weekend-destination for recreation. Many recreation centres operate in the city including sport clubs, swimming pools and golf courses. The Syrian Arab Horse Association in Damascus offers a wide range of activities and services for horse breeders and riders.
Zabadani resort near Damascus
Madaya: a small mountainous town well known holiday resort.
Bloudan: a town located 51 km (32 mi) north-west of the Damascus, its moderate temperature and low humidity in summer attracts many visitors from Damascus and throughout Syria, Lebanon and the Persian Gulf.
Zabadani: a city in close to the border with Lebanon. Its mild weather along with the scenic views, made the town a popular resort both for tourists and for visitors from other Syrian cities.
Maaloula: a town dominated by speakers of Western Neo-Aramaic.
Saidnaya: a city located in the mountains, 1,500 metres (4,921 ft) above sea level, it was one of the episcopal cities of the ancient Patriarchate of Antioch.