• Bangladesh!

    Bangladesh: Traditional houses. Go Now!

    This low-lying country has historic ties to India and Pakistan, but today maintains a wholly unique culture. Explore Bangladesh!

  • Indonesia!

    Indonesia: Lombok. Go Now!

    This archipelago nation is culturally diverse from big cities to isolated islands. Begin Your Journey!

  • Jordan!

    Jordan: Petra. Go Now!

    Tucked away in this Middle Eastern country, the famed city of Petra (pictured) links the past to the present culture. Explore Jordan!

  • Mongolia!

    Mongolia: Desert. Go Now!

    This vast country has a culture that spans past and present... a nomadic life shifting to a modern & sedentary society. Begin Your Journey!

  • Kyrgyzstan!

    Kyrgyzstan: Tian Shan Mountains. Go Now!

    The mountains, including the Tian Shan Mountains (pictured), give Kyrgyzstan a unique culture, partially formed from this isolation from the mountains. Go Now!

Architecture of Syria

WARNING: Syria is currently in civil war, please read this travel warning before going!

Syria has few early architectural monuments still standing outside of a couple Roman ruins. The most important, and still the most interesting to a tourist, is the city of Palmyra, which was an important trading center and is one of the best preserved Roman cities. Another impressive Roman city is Baalbek.

The next great influence came with the introduction of Islam in the 600s and 700s. The first great Islamic rulers were the Umayyad Dynasty, who was centered in Damascus, Syria, giving the city and the region as a whole a vast array of Islamic architecture.

It seems that in Damascus old buildings of worship were converted to mosques and empty lands had mosques built, however none of these structures stand today in their original form if at all. More important, and more impressive, was the mosque of Damascus, which was one of the earliest still standing mosques. This mosque is in the "hypostyle," which consists of columns to support the roof, a style still made in most mosques. This mosque was also one of the first to have a mihrab, a feature all later mosques incorporated. This was also perhaps the first place a minaret existed in order to make the call to prayers and to announce the presence of Islam; later this was incorporated into nearly all mosques, although its initial creation was only intended to be used in areas that were not predominantly Muslim.

Among the mosques, local palaces, and other buildings from this time, mosaics and wall paintings became more common, although the designs remained fairly stable and simple in the region that is today Syria. Later, due to Persian influence, stucco was added.

In the 1100s the style and use of buildings began to develop and change as Seljuk architecture brought in the madrasah, or Islamic school. Among the first of these were a couple in Damascus, including al Adiliyah and az Zahiriyah. The Seljuks also began to build with more stone than brick, like the predecessor rulers.

The next great influence came from the Mamluk rulers. They changed little in regards to style, but began to group buildings together as mosques, madrasahs, and other buildings were generally linked together or sat side by side; more of an urban planning change than an architectural one. The Mamluks were great builders though and left behind thousands of structures. There are dozens of Mamluk buildings still standing from this rule in Damascus and throughout Syria.

From this point until the 1900s Syria fell under foreign rulers, primarily the Ottoman Turks. Under this rule construction continued, but few monumental buildings were erected. Of the structures built most were similar in style to both previous and latter buildings.

In the 1900s, Syria received modern buildings, which are much easier to build due to the materials and machines created by the Industrial Revolution, including concrete, steel, and cranes. There are numerous modern buildings in the country, most particularly in the capital city of Damascus, however war in the country threatens to destroy many of these, and older monuments.

This page was last updated: July, 2012