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Damascus

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DAMASCUS (native name SHAM, Syria), a celebrated city, capital of the Turkish vilayet of Syria, finely situated on a plain, at the eastern base of the Anti-Libanus range and supposed to be the most ancient city in the world. It is six miles in circumference, and is surrounded by a dilapidated wall pierced by seven gates. Damascus, from the beauty of its surroundings, is called the *Pearl of the Desert.* The plain on which the city stands is of great extent, and is covered with the most beautiful gardens and orchards, irrigated by the waters of the Barrada (the Abanah of the Old Testament), forming a grove of more than 50 miles in circuit, rich in fruits, including - .

oranges, lemons, citrons, pomegranates, mul berries, figs, plums, walnuts, pears and apples. So plentiful and cheap are fruit and foodstuffs, that it is almost a proverb that *you can sup or breakfast in Damascus for nothing.* Its interior by no means corresponds with its envi rons. The streets are narrow and crooked, paved with basalt, and have a gloomy and dilapi dated appearance; they are generally in three divisions — that in the middle devoted to cattle and riders being the lowest, and of the same width as the other two. In most parts of the city the fronts of the houses are built with mud, and pierced by a very few small grated windows, with red painted shutters. They are low, with flat-arched doors, resembling those of stables, while a dunghill and pool of putrid water almost invariably stand before each door. In many of them, however, a singular contrast is presented between the dull, prison-like outer walls of gray mud and the richness within. These are of a quadrangular form, enclosing a court paved with marble, ornamented with beautiful trees and flowering bushes, and hav ing copious fountains playing in the centre. The lower rooms on each side of the court are raised above its area, and open in front—their roofs and walls highly ornamented with figures of flowers and inscriptions, and a of ara besque devices. The furniture, also, is of the most splendid description. The best and wealth iest part of the city is the Moslem quarter, where the streets are wider and cleaner, the houses higher and better built, and the supply of water much more abundant than in any other part of the town. The Christian and Jewish

quarters are the most miserable.

Among the places most worthy of notice in Damascus are the bazaars. They are merely long streets — the principal one about one and a half miles in length — covered in with high wood-work and lined with shops, stalls, stores and cafes. The shops are narrow and go only a short way back. There is a separate bazaar for almost every commodity exposed to sale, and all of them are patrolled by multitudes of con fectioners and dealers in ices and cooled sher bets. In the midst of the bazaars stands the Great Khan, said to be one of the most magnifi cent structures of its kind in the world. It is an immense cupola, supported on granite pillars and built in part of alternate layers of black and white marble. Its gate is one of the finest specimens of Moorish architecture to be seen in the world. In this building, and in 30 inferior khans, purchases and sales are daily conducted by the merchants, who have their counting houses near them. There are some 200 mosques : the principal, a magnificent edifice, was de stroyed by fire 14 Oct. 1893. The interior was completely gutted and except for the long lines of Gothic columns and capitols, all is modern. There are three Latin monasteries in Damascus — those of the Franciscans, Capuchins and Lazarists. The principal Roman Catholic churches form part of the monastic buildings; there are, besides, a number of detached churches belonging to different sects in various parts of the city. Besides the more remarkable archi tectural objects mentioned, there are an exten sive citadel, the castle of the Crusaders, and a semi or palace, in which the pasha resides. The most interesting locality in the city is, per haps, what is called Street,' mentioned in connection with the conversion of the apostle Paul. It is the most important, largest and busiest street in Damascus; has a corrugated roof ; is one mile in length, and runs from east to west The house of Judas, also, to which Ananias went, is still pomted out, as well as that of Ananias.

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