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A stunningly beautiful country that is sadly no longer accessible

date of entry 01/06/2005
mileage 472,315

capital Damaskus

area 185.180 km²

population 20.960.588 (2010)

GDP 52.524 M. US-Dollar

official language Arabic

When Gunther thinks back to his travels in Syria, he feels sad: war has brought a great deal of suffering to the country. There was a lot to see, particularly in terms of historic sites, and the country’s location made it a crossroads of many cultures and civilisations for thousands of years. The oasis of Palmyra was an important city two thousand years before the birth of Christ. Gunther was also fascinated by Aleppo, which, together with Arbil in northern Iraq, is one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities. He has nothing but good things to say about the countryside: "The people were very friendly and helpful, and we had no problems spending the night outside in Otto, so it’s a real shame that people can no longer visit this beautiful country."
  • is one of the oldest in the world. In 2001, Pope John Paul II prayed here at the shrine of John the Baptist. This was the first visit to a mosque by any Pope.
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  • Otto in the Syrian Desert: A settlement on a long-distance road.
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  • Palmyra, the city of palms, lies in the middle of the desert. An oasis with two springs, it was formerly an important rest stop for camel caravans.
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  • The fortress of Qal’at Ibn Ma’n, standing on a mountain ridge high above the city, was built as a defence against the Crusaders.
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  • This historic building is a UNESCO world heritage site. Many of Syria’s ruins have been plundered since civil war broke out.
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  • Otto standing in front of a magnificent arch, typical of the architecture of the time.
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  • Syria is a land of deserts and mountains The Alawite Mountains are an imposing limestone massif near the Mediterranean in the north of the country The Anti-Lebanon Mountains run between Lebanon and Syria. This is where Syria’s tallest mountain, Mount Hermon, is located.
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  • Gunther was constantly amazed by the friendliness of the local people.
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  • "The souks of Aleppo are worth several days of anyone’s time," he says.
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  • Aleppo is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.
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  • A picture filled with contrasts: black and white, old and young
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  • Gunther first went to Aleppo in 1963. Otto paid his first visit in 2005, and they went there several times in subsequent years.
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  • The centre of the capital, Damascus, is also well worth seeing. The Umayyad mosque
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  • Video: Syria – no longer safe