Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Beautiful Damascus of the 19th Century

Here are some of what an American, an English, and a French authors had to say about the beautiful Damascus of the 19th century.

Mark Twain talked about his visit to Damascus in his book The Innocent Abroad, published in 1869 :

"... no recorded event has occurred in the world but Damascus was in existence to receive the news of it. Go back as far as you will into the vague past, there was always a Damascus. To Damascus years are only moments, decades are only flitting trifles of time. She measures time not by days, months and years, but by the empires she has seen rise and prosper and crumble to ruin. She is a type of immortality. She saw Greece rise and flourish two thousand years, and die. In her old age she saw Rome built, she saw it oversahdow the world with its power; she saw it perish..... She has looked upon the dry bones of a thousand empires and will see the tombs of a thousand more before she dies."

The English historian and traveller, Alexaner Kinglake said:

"The juice of her life is the gushing and ice-cold torrent that tumbles from the snowy sides of Anti-Lebanon. Close along on the river's edge through seven sweet miles of rustling boughs and deepest shade, the city spreads out her whole length; as a man falls flat, face forward on the brook that he may drink and drink again: so Damascus,thirsting for ever, lies down with her lips to the stream and clings to its rushing waters."

The French poet and traveller, Alphonse de Lamartine, wrote in April of 1833 about his arrival to Damascus:

"through a gap in the rocks, my eye fell on the strangest and most fantastic sight which man has ever seen: it was Damascus and its boundless desert, a few hundred feet below my path... first the town, surrounded by its walls,,, a forest of minarets of all shapes, watered by the seven branches of its river, and streams without number, until the view is lost in a labyrinth of flower gardens and trees....."

Unfortunatily, many people who read these positive appraisals would feel disappointed when they visit Damascus of the 21st century. The city that has survived many invasions and wars for centuries is withering little by little. The river is drying up. The flowers are being pulled out. The gardens have been destroyed. The people are abandoning her. The overwhelming strive of restoring and maintenaing the dying beauty is put in the hands of a few locals and foreigners who have been mesmerized by her beauty.


Blogger Bubble Boy said...

Very informative blog,...

5:51 AM  
Anonymous AcidAngel said...

I agree with bubble boy, and hello btw :)

6:13 AM  
Blogger yee wei said...

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9:04 AM  
Blogger Ihsan said...

Damascus is a remaining of a legend. It survived invasions carried out by almost all prosperous civilizations existed for thousands of years, but could not survive the misuse that has been carried out by her own people.

Damascus has been betrayed, stabbed from behind by her own people……

10:58 AM  
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12:21 PM  
Blogger Tolerant Damascene said...


I already took the survey a few days ago. I'll make sure to pass the word. :)

3:00 PM  
Blogger no one said...

and also i may add what prophet mohammad said about damascus.he refused to enter it saying he wants to enter the heaven of the sky not the heaven of the earth

5:52 PM  
Blogger Tolerant Damascene said...

No One,

I wanted to make a whole new entry about what the Prophet Muhammad said about Damascus :) There are two legends about that, and both of them are really amusing.

5:56 PM  
Blogger Sumini MsLoupGarou said...


Thanks for droppin by my BLOG! Hmmm y dont u put up a tagboard/shoutbox too so that I can drop in as well..hehehe

5:42 PM  
Blogger inandoutspoken's MOMMY BRAIN LEFTOVERS! said...

Beautiful pictures and VERY informative -- thanks for a great blog read! I'll make sure to come back as I like to learn about new places & cultures!

10:00 PM  
Blogger dubh said...

Hi! Thanks for your visit, I've read your posts and your blog is really, really interesting! Hope to hear ya soon

11:10 AM  
Blogger Queen of Hearts said...

Hi! thanks for visit my blog (sorry, my english is BAD!!).

Regards from PANAMA!

2:17 PM  
Blogger no one said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:52 PM  
Blogger no one said...

plz do it..if i haven't beem so lazy i would have done..will be waiting for it

2:54 PM  
Blogger GottfriedStutz said...

Mark Twain also had this cute comment about Damascus. It concerns the street called straight, i.e. the one called Madhat Pasha today:

"The street called Straight is straighter than a corkscrew, but not as straight as a rainbow.

St. Luke is careful not to commit himself; he does not say it is the street which is straight, but "the street which is called Straight."

It is the only facetious remark in the Bible, I believe."

Mark Twain
The Innocents Abroad , 1869

9:23 PM  
Blogger LisaMarie1612 said...

you hav a very informative blog and damascus sounds a nice place to visit. plz check my blog out!

7:45 AM  
Anonymous jalberto said...

Nice blog, see you at internet.
Regards from Spain

12:21 PM  
Blogger Legabal said...

I liked your blog. In "my" country Tébar ( Cuenca )Spain- España..remenber my grand mater stories of Damascus in 840 Alarcón.

3:14 PM  
Blogger texasbunch said...

A most interesting blog. Please come by mine and leave a comment on the material.

6:34 AM  
Blogger SillyBahrainiGirl said...

well said!
it really is a shame when our history and previous trimphs is celebrated by people from other countries and looked at as an eye sore by locals..

we have had an incident in wonderland recently where an MP stood in parliament and said that the a'ali burial mounds which date back to the Dilmun civilisation should be bulldozed because they remind him of the country's pagan past !

5:45 PM  
Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

Yes I agree, the beautiful Damascus that existed until the 1930's is dead, some beautiful houses are still here but that's it.

The same thing is happening in Beirut.

2:25 AM  
Anonymous mensa B said...

What a beautiful and wonderfully written post.

4:02 AM  
Blogger Damascene said...

To fellow Damascenes and all:

Great doubt. The question remains about Damascus: what happened now.

The old city is still the most adorable place to be in for me; but how can we get te city back to sth that people praise again.

What should be done is thinking of ways; initiatives to get Damascus back her glory. actions that we the Damascenes should market and find ways for...

And for the issue of her people betraying her; that is true to some extent, but do u really think that all what happened in that last 40 years was simply "governmental ignorance"

4:48 PM  
Blogger finder said...

Today, blood is up to the knee in Damscus. God bless her!

5:09 AM  

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