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The Roman temple stood upon a rectangular platform (temenos) that measured about 385 meters by 305 meters, with square towers at each corner.Parts of the outer walls of the temenos still survive, but virtually nothing remains of the temple itself.The key criteria for its selection as a World Heritage site, were that Damascus: Damascus lies about 50 miles inland from the Mediterranean Sea, sheltered by the Anti-Lebanon Mountains. The old city of Damascus, enclosed by the city walls, lies on the south bank of the Barada River.To the southeast, north, and northeast, Damascus is surrounded by suburban areas whose history stretches back to the Middle Ages: Midan in the southwest, Sarouja and Imara in the north and northwest.It was a simple three-hour trip from Beirut to Damascus.The border crossing caused no problems, and thereafter the journey was interrupted by only a handful of checkpoints.UNESCO selected the Ancient City of Damascus as a World Heritage Site in 1979. In the Middle Ages, it was the center of a flourishing craft industry, specializing in swords and lace.The city has some 125 monuments from different periods of its history—one of the most spectacular is the eighth-century Great Mosque of the Umayyads, built on the site of an Assyrian sanctuary.

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The modern city is mainly gray with little green, and most of the modern buildings are influenced by Syria's weak economy.

My first impression of the Syrian capital, too, was that it is surprisingly safe.

I saw no armed men on the streets during the journey to my hotel, and in the city centre life appeared to be continuing as normal.

Damascus is believed to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world and the Umayyad Mosque stands on a site that has been considered sacred ground for at least 3,000 years.

It was 1000 BC at the latest when the Arameans built a temple here for Hadad, the god of storms and lightening.

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