Talking about Syria in general and the small town “Kafroon” where I was born is the sweetest subject to my heart. It compares to sharing my feelings about Ice Cream or Chocolate. I smile just thinking about them.
Visit Syria. It will change your life! Syria, The Cradle Of Civilization, the Mother of History!
Come with me on an imaginary journey to SYRIA. Forget everything you heard in the media. Come share and learn about the Syria where I grew up and migrated from in 1977.
Come meet a people so innocent, they still use a donkey in their farming and live a humble life similar to the Amish in America; but also meet a people hooked up to the internet and modernizing fast and enjoying the change too.
SYRIA’s people are humble and hard working.
The old ways of farming still exist in some villages.
Come enjoy the huge variety of freshly grown fruits and vegetables, so ripe and delicious, you’ll wonder why can’t you have something so nice and sweet at the grocery store? From grapes of every kind to apples and oranges, from organic watermelon to healthy figs; you’ll be so engulfed by the richness of the land and the generous people who harvest it.
Come and enjoy the famous Dabkeh (Line Dancing) filled nights of Kafroon and many of the small towns across Syria. Plan on little sleep here, Cafes and the music stop at 5:00 AM every night.
Syria, “The Cradle of Civilizations and the Gateway to History…”
When Pope John Paul II wanted to become the first pope ever to enter a mosque, it was no coincidence he chose the famous and extremely beautiful Umayyad mosque in Damascus. Syria.
OMYAD Mosque. One of the marvelous examples of fantastic architecture in Damascus, SyriaPOPE John Paul was the first POPE to enter a mosque here at the OMYAD Mosque. One of the largest span roof of its time.
St. John the baptist is burried inside this mosque.
The mosque houses the Shrine and Tomb of St.John the Baptist. A shrine maintained for hundreds of years by the Islamic community. The pope was greeted warmly by all religions including the over 2 million Christians in Syria.
The Oldest MALL in the world is in DAMASCUS. The SOUQ is an experience you should not miss!
Just outside the Umayyad mosque is the famous SOUQ (possibly the world’s oldest covered shopping area) the predecessor of today’s malls. Come & bring your shopping appetite and plan on spending a full day here. The bargains abound (the average Syrian earns about $4/day and everything is priced for that kind of income). You’ll can go along way on $100 in Syria.
The home (it is now a church) where SAUL of TARSUS regained his site in DAMASCUS’s neighborhood called BAB TOUMA
While in Damascus, you must visit Bab Touma and the home where Paul of Tarsus regained his sight. Yes, it is still standing and it has been converted to a church..
Go back in time 500 years in BAB TOUMA.
While in Bab Touma, invite yourself into one of the old courtyards and look around and enjoy being sent back 500 years or so to a simpler time where life moved at a slower pace
Fantastic Interiors in BAB Touma (WOW)
Oh, yeah. Be sure to take in all the scenery here, you are in the OLDEST continuously inhabited city in the world (Damascus is over 6000 years old)
BUSRA’s Roman Stadium
South of Damascus (about 3 hours) is Busra, a town full of Roman ruins including the famous coliseum with its great acoustics. An orator can speak on the floor and thousands can hear his speech.
MALULA. The only place on earth still speaking ARAMEIC (JESUS’s native language.
A short drive north of Damascus is Malula, a town hung on the mountainside. Malula prides itself as the only town still speaking the same language spoken by Jesus and his disciples (Aramaic).
Palmyra was Queen Zenobia’s playground. She was CEASAR’s girlfriend.
Head north for 100 miles or so and you’ll come up onto Palmyra, (We lived here for 3 month) Syria Gate writes: Palmyra is called Tadmor by the Arabs; Palmyra appeared for the first time in the 2nd millennium BC in the archives of Mari and in an Assyrian text. It was also mentioned in the Bible as a part of Solomon’s
More Palmyra. You have to see this city to believe the beauty.
territory. Palmyra’s greatest days were under Queen Zenobia. The ruins here are so beautiful, the various burial spaces so plentiful, spending 2 days here is recommended.
Mosque of Khaled Ibn Al Walid in HOMS
Directly northwest of Palmyra is HOMS. This town is all about helping supply the surrounding farming communities and providing a market for their crops. Homs is home to the great Mosque of Khaled Ibn Al Walid (The architechure here is fabulous)
St. Paul church in Tartous Syria was built by St. Paul and his followers. It is still standing in Tartous as a Museum (Tartous is on the Mediterranean
West of Homs and on the Mediterranean is Tartous and the nearby Island of Arwad. When in Tartous, look for the church built by St. Paul (still standing as a museum). Tartous is in the heart of Olive Oil production in Syria. Kafroon (my village) is in the region of Tartous.
Castle of Salah ElDein near Latakieh. A very impressive fortification system .
Continue north for a couple of hours and you’ll come up on Latakieh, a major port and a commercial hub in Syria. Near Latakieh is the Castle of Salah El Deen. The trip to this castle is ½ the fun. Perched on top of a forbidding rock mountain and designed to fend off the worst of attackers, this castle is a treat to visit. Don’t miss it.
The first ALPHABET ever came from SYRIA
Also near Latakieh and near the Mediterranean is Ugarit, that’s where the first Alphabet ever was discovered. See the tablet.
The Beautiful CASTLE of ALEPPO
Head east from Latakieh for a couple of hours and you’ll arrive in Aleppo. Syria’s northern gate, close to the Turkish border, Aleppo has a fabulous Castle inside the city and it has many beautiful buildings new and old.
From here you can head east for 5 hours and you’ll arrive in Jazeera (Island) between the Euphrates and the Tigres Rivers, here you’ll visit Hasaka, Al Qamishli and Deir ElZor and see Syria brad basket (Wheat is grown here and the land is watered from the Euphrates Dam. Syria is not rich in oil, but what oil is produced here comes from this region
Cathedral of St Simeon ElAmoudi (He used to live on top a stone pole and preach to people).
Returning by way of Aleppo, and heading back south toward Damascus, a side trip is in order to visit the ruins of the Cathedral of St Simeon ElAmoudi (He used to live on top a stone pole and preach to people). A small section of the pole remains standing to this day and of course Afamia is in this region too.
AFAMIA. Another area rich with history.
Afamia is rich with Roman artifacts and buildings.
Naourats (water wheels) built by the Romans to elevate water and help with irrigation.
Continuing south, the first major city is Hamah, famous for its Naourats (water wheels) that still hum a beautiful, sad song and carry water from River ElAassi which runs from this land all the way to Lebanon. Watching the waterwheels in Hamah is addicting, you’ll never want to leave. Here are some reasons why I love the water wheels:
1. The constant humming of the sad Naourat song.
2. The constant motion of the wheel operated strictly by water and gravity.
3. The fabulous and constant rainbow on both sides of each wheel.
4. The constant mist in the air.
5. The cool air near the wheels.
6. Don’t miss a meal at the great restaurant serving great Syrian dishes only yards away from it all.
HAMA’s Ice Cream is a real treat. Enjoy some while here in HAMA
When in Hamah be sure have some local Bouza (Famous Hamah Ice Cream).
My cousin and her girlfriend in Kafroon Syria
Heading southwest out of Hamah and driving through the hills dotted with Apple Orchards and Grape Vineyards you’ll soon come up on Mashta El Helou (Translated Sweet Mashta) and soon after you’ll be entering KAFROON.
Kafroon is a small town of 900. It is beautiful.
This small hamlet of 900 people is so famous for its beautiful clean nightlife and its people’s love of music and dancing that it attracts people from Dubai, Quatar, Bahrain, Kwait, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Jordan and of course from all over Syria.
Mom travels to SYRIA every year to get the house ready for us. We go to be with her in August.
Here you’ll find my parents home where my daddy and his daddy were born. Located in the Alawayeh Mountian region, this area is famous for fruits (grapes, apples, peaches, plums, apricots, pears and succulent figs -oh the figs), clean air, multitudes of cafes that will play music all night long.
Syria’s famous George Wassouf lives in Kafroon.
Kafroon is home to Syria’s most famous artist son singer George Wassouf who can be heard singing sometimes until 3:00 AM
Grapes. Dad planted 22 kinds of grapes around the house. Yum!
Kafroon is most famous for its Jabal ElSaideh (Mountain of St. Mary) and its Feast of the Assumption celebration on August 15th. I enjoy visiting Syria and try to always be there for this holiday during my visit. What surprises me most is how many Muslims come to pray with us on top of the mountain on this holiday.
My “late” father and I in the front yard enjoying grapes in the summer of 2004
CRAC De Chevalier (the world best preserved crusader castle)
The Castle from a distance
Not far from Kafroon is Marmarita home for many of Syria’s smart people and the nearby St. Georges Shrine (the newer church there is 900 years old) and Syria’s most famous castle CRAC Des Chevalier. The Crac des Chevaliers was built by the Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem from 1142 to 1271. With further construction by the Mamluks in the late 13th century, it ranks among the best-preserved examples of the Crusade castles.
Syria is home to many religions that live in harmony and respect one another. Syria has 19 million people. Sunni Muslim 74%, Alawite, Druze, and other Muslim sects 16%, Christian (various sects) 10%, Jewish (tiny communities in Damascus, Al Qamishli, and Aleppo).
So I hope I’ve shed some light on a country that’s been much maligned in the media and a people that would love to welcome you with open arms. Any tourist who visits Syria, has nice things to say about it and plans to return.
Fruits of the land on display at the market
Syria has made great strides toward modernity in recent years. Upgrading infrastructure, and wiring for the internet. Encouraging entrepreneurs and investors with special low interest loans, and relaxing many old rules and regulations.
A man relaxes in the Souq in HOMS
So I hope you’ll consider Syria as your next adventure and bring little money (everything is cheap here) dinner for 4 at a nice cafe is less than $20 in the villages. Come ready to enjoy, dance, laugh, eat, drink and be merry like never before… Come to Syria. “The Cradle of Civilizations and the Gateway to History…”
Come and meet a people so magnificent and so generous that you’ll feel welcome everywhere you go in Syria.