A Street Called Straight
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.