Wednesday, July 13, 2011

DAMASCUS

(given most sights are in “Old City,” this may be preferable area for hotel)

BARS & NIGHTCLUBS
Cham Mahal Art Café – Al Amin Street; 011-963-11-543-5349; art gallery and beer and wine bar; live music.
Z-Bar – corner of Maysaloun Boulevard and Brazil Streets (New City, at Omayad Hotel); 011-963-11-221-7700; omayad-hotel.com; sleek, roof-top bar with high-end alcohol.

HOTELS
Al Pasha Hotel – Zaitoun Street; 011-963-11-543-0100; alpashahotel.com; 16-room minipalace featuring old-style Damascene décor; pleasant outdoor bar.
Beit Al Mamlouka – Bab Touma; 011-963-11-543-04-456; almamlouka.com; tastefully designed boutique hotel with lovely courtyard.
Beit Zaman Hotel – Medhat Pasha; 011-963-11-543-538-088; beit-zaman.com; elegant.
Four Seasons Hotel Damascus – Avenue Shukri Al Quatli; 011-963-11-339-1000; fourseasons.com; just outside Old City.
Hanania – Bab Hanania; 011-963-11-543-6990; hananiahotel.com.
Old Vine – 92 Ammara Jouaniyeh, Ammara (Old Damascus); 011-963-11-545-0164; oldvinehotel.com.
Orient Palace Hotel – Hijaz Square (New Damascus); 011-963-11-221-1510; orientpalacehotel.net; faded glory makes it budget option.

RESTAURANTS
Grape Leaves Café – just south of Al Qemerieh Street; 011-963-11-542-6160; simple, rustic Mediterranean home-cooking.
Luluat al Sharq – Jisr al Abyad (New City); 011-963-11-331-1604; make sure to order kebab karaz (lamb kebabs with sour cherry sauce).
Naranji – Straight Street; 011-963-11-541-3600; stylish restaurant across from Roman Arch; try mekanek (tender sausages soaked in lemon broth) and djaj mousakhan (Levantine egg roll); see and be seen locale, especially lovely roof-top terrace.

SERVICES
Hamam al Nasri – al Nassiri Street (Old City, south of Straight Street); 011-963-11-543-6126; baths; women only before 4:00 p.m.

SHOPPING
Abdalla & Dubbane – Ibn Khaldoun Street (near Souk al-Hamidiyeh); 011-963-11-221-8748; best source for embroidered, aghabani table-cloths.
Aikhayat Antiques – Medhat Pasha (inside Bab Sharqi – Old City’s east gate); 011-963-11-544-5574; 3 side-by-side buildings shops with wide-variety hand-blown glassware, kilims, Berber rugs, and textiles.
Anat – Medhat Pasha (inside Bab Sharqi – Old City’s east gate – next to Armenian Church); 011-963-11-542-7878; anat-sy.org; exquisite embroidery made by refugees.
Antiquo – Medhat Pasha (near Roman Arch); 011-963-11-541-3750; table-cloths.
DanMas – Qeimariyeh Street (near Al Nawfara coffee shop); 011-963-93-331-9180; embroidery (dog beds to towels).
George Dadoub – next to Azem Palace; 011-963-11-221-6988; furniture and rugs.
Fadi – across from Umayyad Mosque’s south wall; 011-963-11-221-1848; handmade clothing.
Ghassan Orientals – across from al-Maljaa Park; 011-963-11-543-5615; hand-inlaid, hand-made furniture.
Ghraoui – Port Said Street (west of Old City); 011-963-11-231-1323; ghraouichocolate.com; chocolates and jams.
Ahmad Jaqmiri – handicraft souk across from Tekkiye Mosque (main alley); 011-963-11-224-7590; hand-made leather bags and belts.
Khan – Straight Street, Midhat Pasha Suq (Maktab Anbar district); 011-963-11-544-99340; thekhan-sy.com; on ground floor are Villa Moda and Khanom, focused on high fashion; on upper floors, Saboon revives ancient Damascene heritage crafts and traditional productions, and Tajalliyat, dedicated to exhibiting contemporary art, particularly painting and sculptures, both by Syrian artists and also Regional artists; also Yabi & Yamo, from artsy books and chairs to kettles and kitchen wares.
Kozah Art Gallery – Medhat Pasha (near Roman Arch); 011-963-11-543-4599; husband and wife sell jewelry and paintings.
Old City – next to Al Nawfara coffee shop; 011-963-11-544-3861; kilims and rugs.
Wardy – handicraft souk across from Tekkiye Mosque (just off main passage); beautiful weaving.
Yana Kilims – Old City (across from Al Nawfara coffee shop); 011-963-11-542-3229; carpets and rugs.

SIGHTS & SITES
National Museum – Al Jamiaa Street; 011-963-11-222-8566; 2 most famous artifacts: (1) tablet from Ugarit inscribed with 1 of world’s 1st known alphabets; and (2) ornate Jewish “temple” from Europos; see also statute of singer of Ur-Nanshe Temple.
Souk al Hamidiyeh – next to Umayyad Mosque; city’s best known bazaar.
Umayyad Mosque – Old City; among holiest, largest, and oldest mosques in world; Saladin’s tomb stands in small garden adjoining mosque’s north wall; holds shrine said to contain John’s “Baptist” head.

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