Old Damascus
"Getting lost within the
 maze of narrow lanes and walkways is like stepping into
 ancient history."
  Travel Tales ~ Images of Syria ~ Old Damascus  

Our #1 Choice in Syria.  The building was restored using old materials and techniques and became an art gallery.  It is now a small, funky, boutique hotel a short stroll from the al-Sharqi Gate (Eastern Gate) in the Christian Quarter and within easy walking of all sights in Old Damascus.  We stayed twice; once in the Northern Room and once in the Romantic Suite ~ both were enjoyable.   Each room is different and decorated with art and antiques.  Some antiques are displayed in unusual places (ie: the shower) while others are used in inventive ways adding to the character of the room. Each room offers air conditioning, satellite tv and wifi.
The centre courtyard is a cool spot to take a break in the heat of the day.  The small but very satisfying buffet breakfast is served in the cellar. 
Manager, Abboud Polo, and the rest of Hanania's staff are ready to help with information and suggestions.  
Address: Hanania St., Old Damascus, Syria
Phone:  +963 11 543 6990, +963 11 543 6991, +963 11 543 6992
Mobile:  +963 949 946 246
Fax:       +963 11 544 6573
Email:    info@hananiahotel.com


Lonely Planet
has written walking tours for Old Damascus which give the flexibility to linger at sights which interest you and allow you to move on from those which don't.

Even if you are non-Muslim take the opportunity to visit inside the magnificent Umayyad Mosque, one of the holiest mosques in the world for Muslims and also the Iranian built Sayyida Ruqayya Mosque.

There are times when it is best to put the guide book away and just get "lost" down the narrow back streets where you will discover more of this fascinating city beyond it's touristy landmarks. We highly recommend getting "lost".

Street food:
Don't miss out on the soft ice cream made with sahlab (a tapioca-root drink) topped with pistachio nuts.  It's easy to find, just follow the line of locals and tourists licking the delight in Souq Al-Hamidiyya. Make your way to the cash register and point to the picture menu on the counter.  The cashier will give you a token, then move to the fellow dipping cones into the container of pistachios and hold out your token.  When he takes it, your next.
You don't have to walk far between bakeries in Old Damascus and if you have a sweet tooth, like most Syrians, your taste buds will want to try a myriad of doughnuts and pastries.
Stop for Tea
At the bottom of a set of stairs by the east side of Umayyad Mosque is an ideal place to sip sweet Syrian tea and people watch or strike up conversations with locals or other visitors.  Coming down the stairs on the right is Al-Nawfara Coffee Shop noted for it's evening story tellers and more outside tables.  On the opposite side is Ash-Shams where their narrow band of tables, we were told, are more frequented by locals and repeat visitors 'in the know' and the tea less expensive.     
Restaurants: The food in Syria is wonderful and comparatively inexpensive and restaurants are plentiful, so try a different one each night. Syrians traditionally eat later, so many establishments might look empty if you arrive before 7:30pm but doing so allows an opportunity to find a good people watching table. Restaurants, converted from old mansions, usually serve family style dishes.  Naan bread most often arrives at the table and is included.  Try using torn pieces of naan bread instead of a fork as the locals do.


Amman, Jordan to Damascus, Syria:
Purchase bus tickets day before departure. Bus leaves from Amman Jett Bus Office. Trip from Amman to Damascus approximately 7 hours.
Arrived Damascus (Ash-Sham to locals) at the Al-Samariyeh Garage on the western outskirts of the city.   At this point Syrian money is needed to take a taxi or make prior arrangements with hotel/hostel. 

Damascus to Aleppo: Taxi to Khaddan train station (about 5 km southwest of the centre).  Trip to Aleppo approximately 4.5 hours.

Always insist taxi driver uses meter.