Statue of Ananias baptising Paul in the court yard of St Ananias. Old City, Damascus, Syria.

Our first full day in Syria begins with a tour of Damascus.  An early start and we are on the coach into the city.  The tour starts with a visit to the Christian quarter of the city.  We see the Biblical “Street Called Straight” the church built where Ananias is believed to have lived and the a brief look at the church where it is believed St Paul was lowered over the walls in a basket.

Church of St Paul. Old City, Damascus, Syria.

Also on this bit of the tour we get to see a traditional Syrian house – built in Ottoman style with everything centred round a courtyard.

A courtyard of a traditional Syrian family house. Old City, Damascus, Syria.

Then it is back on the bus and a two hour tour round the Archaeological Museum, followed by lunch at the Museum.

An Assyrian Statue. National Archaeological Museum, Damascus, Syria.

Back on the coach after lunch and back to the old City again.  This time we are visiting the Grand Mosque in the centre of the old city.

Inside the courtyard of the Mosque. Omayyad Mosque, Damascus, Damascus City, Syria.

The courtyard of the mosque. Omayyad Mosque, Damascus, Damascus City, Syria.

The mosque is the fourth most holy place for Muslims.  In Islam it is believed that Jesus will return to earth at this mosque, and one of the minarets, known as the Jesus minaret is where it believed it will happen.

A sculpture and the Jesus minaret. Omayyad Mosque, Damascus, Damascus City, Syria.

Inside the prayer hall of the mosque is another strange mix of Christian and Islam.  There is a shrine in it is believed houses the head of John the Baptist.  A decaptiated head was apparently found when the mosque was being built/converted from a church.  It was believed that the head was that of John the Baptist and as a sign of respect for the Christians a shrine was created at the time to house the head.

Shrine of the head of John the Baptist Inside the prayer hall of. Omayyad Mosque, Damascus, Damascus

After visiting the mosque we walk through the old city’s winding streets and souks back to the coach and back to the hotel.  With just enough time to shower and change before we take the coach back to the Old City for a third time for our evening at a Syrian Resturaunt… complete with Whirling Dervish.

Whirling Dervish dancing for tourists at a resturaunt. Neutron Resturaunt, Damascus, Damascus City,

It has been a long, but enjoyable day.  The bad news is that we found out that our return flight to the UK is being delayed by about half a day.  This means that instead of arriving at at Heathrow at about 10.30pm in time to check-in to our hotel for the night.  We are going to arrive at abut 9.00am… at about the time we should be checking out of the hotel to drive home.  Ho hum.