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May 8, 2002

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5-8 Damascus claims to be the oldest continuously inhabited city. Through the centuries it's been a Persian capital, Greek prize, Roman pearl and Islamic center. The old quarter, enclosed by walls, retains its ancient character. We walk through a magnificent souq, best we've seen in the Middle East because of its grand atmosphere - vaulted ceilings, covered walkways, and polite vendors. There's a large Christian area too. The St. Paul's church strides a breach in the city wall. Along the northern wall runs the city's former lifeline, the thin, dirty Barada River, that adds to Damascus's decayed charm.
The vaulted archway over Damascus's souq. The sides are bordered by magnificent khans.
The khans, or merchant's houses, sumptuously decorated.
Women windowshop beneath their veils
Great Arabic atmosphere in Damascus restaurants. The food is minced meat wrapped in light pastry or pita, shish kebabs, felafel, and hummus.