The Syria of today offers tourists as much a cultural experience as a sightseeing one, where ancient history provides a fascinating backdrop to everyday life on the streets                          

 


Syria

A Street Called Straight
Via Recta

Straight street or in Roman, Via Recta, was the main link between east and west Damascus. When it was taken over by the Greeks and Alexander the Great, the "old city" was redesigned into the Hippodamian grid pattern, following the ideas of Hippodamus. This reflected the Greek sense of order. Under Roman rule, Via Recta was widened and became a colonnaded thoroughfare. These columns are still recognizable at the moment. 

Starting from the western section of this Street you will be passing through the Arab Gate of the Water Trough, Bab al-Jabiye. This is where the Roman gate of Jupiter once stood. The Mosque of Hisham (built in 1427), with fine stalactite design, is a bit further on. It is believed that the theatre built by Herod the Great in the 1st century BC was in this area. Going further into the covered section of the street you will find two khans (Khan Djaqmaq, and Khan al-Zait), the former is a Mameluke structure built in 1420, the latter was originally a caravanserai for olive oil.

On the eastern side you will find a Roman arch, which was found by workmen under the French Mandate. It is thought to have been part of a 3rd century AD Tetrapylon at the intersection of the Via Recta. The Greek Orthodox Patriarchal church of  Virgin Mary is to the north of the arch, this piece of land has been the site of a church going as far back as the Byzantine Empire. 

This area is the Christian quarter of Damascus, where Christians were allowed to have their churches during the Arab invasions. To the south is the Jewish quarter (although Christians now mostly inhabit it). Further on lies St. Paul's chapel, which is where St. Paul fled by being dropped in a basket through a window in the wall. The end of Straight Street is where Bab Sharki lies, the Roman gate of the Sun.

The House of Ananias is nearby. Ananias is the one who restored Paul's sight in Acts 9:17.

 
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Toronto - Canada
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