According to abbreviationfinder, Damascus is the capital of Syria. The old town is based on ancient patterns and is characterized by medieval buildings. It is still largely surrounded by a wall with city gates. The suburbs, which grew in the Middle Ages, have been modernized in the last decades of the 20th century. The city has expanded considerably in all directions, with residential and commercial areas.
In the center of the old town is the Umayyad Mosque (Great Mosque), which was built in the area of the central ancient temple and after the removal of St. John’s Church under Caliph Walid I (705–715) as one of the first and largest Islamic mosques since 706 and has been created again and again since then rebuilt and rebuilt after fires. Gold mosaics depicting landscapes have been preserved from the early days. Parts of the city wall, the citadel and numerous mosques, tombs and madrasas date from the time of Nur ad-Din, who took the city in 1154, and the Aijubids (1174–1250). In the time of the Mamluks after the Mongol invasion of 1260, the northern suburb of Salihije was expanded with the tomb of the Sufi Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi († 1242). The building complex of the Tekkije Sulaimanije on the bank of the Barada dates from the early Ottoman period (16th century). Examples of Syrian architecture in the 18th century are the palace and khan of the Syrian governor Asad el-Asem.
The National Museum in Damascus contains rich collections of ancient oriental, ancient, Byzantine and Islamic art from the Syrian region. The old town of Damascus with its souks (bazaars) has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The main street, Suk al-Hamidija, which is around 500 m long, was cut through the maze of alleys at the end of the 19th century. Since the 1970s, further modernizations have been carried out in the old town around the Umayyad Mosque and the citadel, and some of the dense buildings have been removed. At the same time, important historical buildings were thoroughly renovated and partially restored. As a result of the civil war in Syria, several districts of Damascus have been affected by bomb attacks and hostilities since 2011.
Syrian literature, written in the Syrian language, almost exclusively Christian, which had its center in the upper Mesopotamia, but at the time of its greatest prosperity extended from the coast of the eastern Mediterranean through missionary activities to western China. It essentially covers the period between the 2nd and 13th centuries. In terms of size, age and diversity, Syrian literature is the most important of the Christian Orient. Its special importance lies in the mediator role that it played between the Greek heritage of classical antiquity and the Arab world, between Christianity and Islam, between Iranian culture and the West and the individual Christian Christian churches.
Only inscriptions from the Edessa area have survived from the pre-Christian period. The early evidence of Syrian literature includes translations of the Bible, such as the “Diatessaron” Tatian, a harmony of the Gospels, and the Syrian translation of the Bible, the Peschitta, which later became generally valid. Bardesanes emerged as an important exponent of Gnosis, as an apologist of the Christian faith Afrahat, while his younger contemporary was Ephrem the Syrians not only wrote dogmatic and exegetical writings, but was also valued as a poet of religious hymns. In the wake of the Christological disputes, Syrian literature among the Jacobites in the Byzantine Empire and among the Nestorians in the Sassanid Empire developed almost independently of one another from the 5th century onwards. With the Nestorians, the martyrological literature was particularly cultivated as well as the exegesis of the Holy Scriptures, in which one referred to the biblical explanatory Theodor von Mopsuestia (* around 350, † 428); Aristotelian philosophy was also studied, and scientific works were translated from the Greek. After the Nestorians were driven out of Edessa in 457, a college was founded in Nisibis. Narsai the leper († after 503), as a poet received the honorary name “Harp of the Holy Spirit”. Among the Jacobites, whose centers were Edessa and Amida, in the 6th century stand out Philoxenus of Mabbug (* around 440, † 523), the poet Jakob von Sarug (* around 450, † 521) and the hagiographer Johannes from Ephesus. The heyday of Syrian literature was not immediately interrupted by the Islamic conquest. Important authors of the Umayyad period were the versatile scholar Jakob von Edessa and the Arab bishop Georgios († 726). Under the Abbasids a uniform intellectual education in the Arabic language developed, so that the importance of Syrian literature gradually declined. However, especially in the 9th century, dogmatic treatises, biblical commentaries and works on church history were still being produced, and Nestorians created interdenominational literature in Arabic as well as translations of medical and professional scientific works from Greek. Theodor bar Konai published not only explanations of the Bible in his extensive book of scholias in 791–792, but also an overview of heretical doctrines, and Elias bar Schinaja (* 975, † after 1049) wrote a world history written in Syrian and Arabic parallel columns with his large chronography; In addition, a large number of legal books documented legal interest. During the Seljuq and Mongol rule, Syrian literature experienced a renaissance; Among the Nestorians, among other authors of clerical poetry in the 13th century, the poet Georg Warda and the grammarian Johannes bar Zobi worked, among the Jacobites the exegete Dionysios bar Salibi († 1171), the historian Patriarch Michael I (* 1126, † 1199) and as the culmination and conclusion of Bar Hebrew’s literary work. After him, Syrian literature began to decline.