Damascus, Syria

Umayyad mosque 

Built by the Umayyad caliphs of Damascus at the end of the seventh century CE


The third holiest mosque of the Muslims after Mecca and Medina and ahead of the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem

The treasury

Fourteenth century CE mosaics cover the domed treasury on the right corner

Immersed in prayer

Women praying inside the mosque, the minbar (pulpit) visible above their heads. Muslim women are required to wear the black robe inside a mosque which can also be borrowed at the entrance

Inside the mosque

The prayer hall

Azem palace

Eighteenth century private residence of the governor of Damascus


Another view of the courtyard

Damascene architecture

Another view of the courtyard

Ruqayya mosque

Sayyida Ruqayya was the daughter of the martyr Hussein of Kerbala in Iraq and a Shiite hero

Ruqayya mosque

The ornate interior

All dressed up

Two women hanging out in the old city of Damascus

Oud player

Part of a Sufi singing troupe

Al-Arabi mosque

Al-Arabi was a 12th century Sufi mystic philosopher and greatly revered in many parts of Syria

Prayer session

Gathering for the afternoon prayer

Bab al-Dimashq

One of the original Roman gates of Damascus -- Bab al-Salaama

Al-Arabi's tomb

The greatest mystic philosopher of Islam lies here

Sufi musicians

The last of the dying breed since Hafez Assad banned all Sufi schools in Syria

Whirling dervishes ...

An ecstatic dancing style rejuvenated by Sheikh Jelaluddin Loras of the Mevlevi Sufi order

keep whirling and whirling

Whirling Dervishes across the world celebrate the birth of the poet Jalal ad-Din Rumi who founded the Order


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