Today is our first full day of free time in Syria, and we took the opportunity to revisit some of the sights in the Old city that we had been to on the early part of the tour but where we didn’t manage to see (or rather photograph) everything we wanted.
First stop was the remains of the Roman “Jupiter temple”, which is located at the end of the Souk and in front of the Umayyad mosque. Previous attempts to get any photographs here were not succesful due to the light and due to the fact that the area was overcrowded.
Second stop was the Umayyad mosque itself – although this visit was a bit different to last time – I presume this was due to the Eid Ramadan celebrations. The tourist entrance to the mosque was closed and we had to wait in side street that was becoming increasingly more and more crowded to enter directly via the prayer hall. Once in the prayer hall we found that initially only the non-muslims/tourists were being permitted to enter the courtyard. I’m not complaining about this as it meant for a long while I had a virtually empty courtyard to photograph in. But the behaviour did appear a little strange.
In addition to photographing general scenes of the mosque courtyard I was keen to get some detail shots which I had not had the chance to get last time I was here.
Sometimes when on location taking photos a scene just happens that you just couldn’t set up. As we were leaving the mosque a bunch of Syrian lads walked up to one of the windows in the prayer hall and started looking out at the courtyard. At the same time a western woman who was visiting the mosque walked past in front of the window, giving the impression that these boys were pressed against the window to see her. As this is just an impression rather that the reality I’m pleased that boys are in silhoette and that the face of the woman is obscured by the arm of one of the boys thus making everyone in the scene anonymous.
From the mosque we headed to the Christian quarter of the old city because I hadn’t been happy with the photos I’d taken there and wanted the chance to re-photograph the Street called Straight.
Walking round the walls a little we called into the church of St Paul – where it is believed he was lowered over the walls in a large basket.
Outside the chuch is a sculputure of Paul falling from his horse on the road to Damascus when he was blinded by his encounter Christ.
Inside the very simple church there were a number of notable things including paintings detailing the life of St. Paul. I photographed this one as it covers Paul being shipwrecked on Malta. Regular readers of the POTD will know that I visited Malta at the end of last year – also I have one Maltese subscriber to the POTD who I was fairly sure would be interested in seeing the painting.
Also to be found in the church is a reproduction of the the type of basket that would have been used to lower Paul over the walls to effect his escape from Damascus.