SIRIJA – SYRIA – سوريا‎

Kupola Orla u okviru Omejadske dzamije-The Dome of the Eagle inside Umayyad Mosque

Kupola Orla u okviru Omejadske dzamije-The Dome of the Eagle inside Umayyad Mosque

Lokalni prevoz-Local transport

Lokalni prevoz-Local transport

Oldtajmer u centru Damaska - Oldtimer in the centre of Damascus

Oldtajmer u centru Damaska – Oldtimer in the centre of Damascus

Oldtajmer u centru Damaska-An oldtimer in the centre of Damascus

Oldtajmer u centru Damaska-An oldtimer in the centre of Damascus

Oldtajmer u centru Damaska-Oldtimer in the city centre

Oldtajmer u centru Damaska-Oldtimer in the city centre

Pravoslavni manastir u Ma'louli-An Orthodox monastery in Ma'loula

Pravoslavni manastir u Ma’louli-An Orthodox monastery in Ma’loula

U opustenoj igri - Relaxed game

U opustenoj igri – Relaxed game

U opustenoj igri-Relaxed game

U opustenoj igri-Relaxed game

Velika Omejadska dzamija u Damasku-Great Umayyad Mosque in Damascus

Velika Omejadska dzamija u Damasku-Great Umayyad Mosque in Damascus

Hriscansko mesto Ma'loula u kome se govori jezik Hrista-Aramejski-The Christian village of Ma'loula where Aramaic, the language of Jesus, is spoken

Hriscansko mesto Ma’loula u kome se govori jezik Hrista-Aramejski-The Christian village of Ma’loula where Aramaic, the language of Jesus, is spoken

Krstasko utvrdjenje-Crusaders' fortress Crac de Chevaliers

Krstasko utvrdjenje-Crusaders’ fortress Crac de Chevaliers

Kupola Orla i kupola Riznice u okviru Omejadske dzamije-The Dome of the Eagle and the Dome of the Treasury inside Umayyad Mosque

Kupola Orla i kupola Riznice u okviru Omejadske dzamije-The Dome of the Eagle and the Dome of the Treasury inside Umayyad Mosque

Ostaci antickog grada Palmire - Remains of the ancient city of Palmyra

Ostaci antickog grada Palmire – Remains of the ancient city of Palmyra

Ostaci antickog grada Palmire-Remains of the ancient city of Palmyra

Ostaci antickog grada Palmire-Remains of the ancient city of Palmyra

Popodnevno uzivanje-Afternoon relax

Popodnevno uzivanje-Afternoon relax

Sirijac-A Syrian guy

Sirijac-A Syrian guy

Susret civilizacija-Where the civilizations meet

Susret civilizacija-Where the civilizations meet

Tradicionalni arapski rostilj savarma-Traditional arab barbecue Shawarma

Tradicionalni arapski rostilj savarma-Traditional arab barbecue Shawarma

Vladajuca predsednicka dinastija-Rulling dynasty

Vladajuca predsednicka dinastija-Rulling dynasty

Sirija je jedna od najprijatnijih zemalja koje sam posetio. Ona odiše pravom arapskom kulturom, za koju sami Arapi kažu da je izvorna, a ne afrička, misleći pri tom na severnoafričke muslimanske zemlje ili one koje odišu novostvorenim bogatstvom kao na arabijskom poluostrvu. Sirijci su iskreni u svojoj ljubaznosti, ali i u svojim uverenjima, posebno kad se osete ugroženim od susednog Izraela. “Mi smo veoma dobar i miroljubiv narod, ali kod nas svaka porodica ima bar jedan kalašnjikov sakriven u kući”, otvoreno mi vozač priča o stalnom strahu svoje nacije od izraelskog napada.
Izlet je bio nezaboravan. Počeo je od malog mesta Malula, severno od glavnog grada Damaska, gde se izvorno još govori jezikom kojim je govorio i molio se Isus Hrist. To je aramejski, koji je, pored hebrejskog, bio jedan od glavnih jezika na Bliskom istoku. Tu se nalaze manastir Svetog Sergija i crkva čudotvorke Svete Tekle, sledbenice apostola Pavla, po kojoj je mesto poznato. Nastavili smo do starog templarskog utvrđenja Crac de Chevalier, u kome su vitezovi, branioci hrišćanstva, mogli da provedu i po nekoliko godina tokom dugih opsada. U Siriji postoji veliki broj takvih tvrđava.
Pred zalazak sunca pustinjska odiseja dovela me je do Palmire (grad palmi), ostataka antičkog grada-oaze, koji je bio simbol nezavisnosti jedne zemlje između dva carstva: rimskog i persijskog. Tu je smeštena istorijska priča o mudroj i lepoj kraljici Zenobiji, koja se nije priklonila ni jednom carstvu, a njena zemlja živela je u blagostanju od ubiranja poreza pri prolasku karavana svile, začina i parfema, koji su išli od Dalekog istoka ka Evropi. U jednom periodu je njena moć toliko narasla da je osvojila velike teritorije, čak do Male Azije i Egipta, preuzela titulu avgusta i kovala novac sa svojim likom. Car Aurelijan je zbog toga pokorio i porušio Palmiru, a zarobljena kraljica Zenobija je u zlatnim okovima hodala sve do Rima, u kome se kasnije otrovala. Japanska vlada podigla je srušene stubove i kapitole, tako da se u Palmiri danas naslućuje sjaj nekadašnje lepote i slave, a posebno dok se posmatra sa obližnje tvrđave na brdu pri zalasku sunca.
I, konačno, Damask, grad koji odiše hiljadugodišnjom kulturnom baštinom koja izbija iz svakog trga, džamije, pogleda i osmeha njegovih stanovnika. Dugo sam boravio u džamiji Umajad, jednoj od najvećih i najstarijih na svetu i četvrtom najsvetijem muslimanskom mestu, posmatrajući njene brojne lukove na vizantijskim stubovima. Još u bronzano doba na tom mestu se nalazio hram boga Hadada, potom Jupiterov hram u doba Rimljana i zatim bazilika Svetog Jovana Krstitelja, koja je u VIII veku pretvorena u džamiju. Iza nje se nalazi mauzolej sultana Saladina.
Posle obilaska grada, ušao sam u najstariji hamam u ovom delu sveta, jedva nazirući obrise u vlažnoj izmaglici, kroz koju se teško probijao samo jedan zrak svetlosti sa vrha visoke kamene kupe. Topli kamen je prijao posle celodnevnog umora, kada mi je, bez reči, prišao obrijani gorostas i počeo da me masira. Nije bio preterano nežan, ali je to bila prijatna masaža, posle koje je usledilo polivanje vrelom vodom, i čaj od mente.
Veče sam proveo na brdu iznad Damaska, odakle zaljubljeni parovi posmatraju svetlosti velegrada, maštajući, možda, o Njujorku.
Nisu ni svesni u kojoj su prednosti što se ipak nalaze na ovom mestu, u kolevci civilizacije.

April 2001.
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Syria is one of the most pleasant countries I have visited. It embodies the true Arabic culture, that Arabs themselves say is authentic and not African, meaning not from North African Muslim countries or those who display their new riches, like those on the Arabian Peninsula. Syrians are sincere in their kindness, but also in their beliefs, especially when they feel threatened by the neighbouring Israel. ‘We are a very good and peaceful people, but each family has at least one Kalashnikov hidden at home’ the taxi driver tells me candidly about its nation’s fear of Israeli attacks.
The trip was unforgettable. It started at a small place called Ma’loula, north of the capital Damascus, where the original language, still spoken there, is the language that Jesus Christ used himself to speak and pray. The language is Aramaic, which apart from Hebrew, used to be one of the dominant languages in the Middle East. This is where the monastery of Saint Sergius is located, as well as the Convent of Saint Thecla, who was one of Saint Paul’s followers and a woman protomartyr, and for whom this place is known. We continued to the old Templar’s fortress called Crac de Chevalier, where knights, defenders of the Christian faith, could spend even a few years during long periods of seige. Syria abounds in fortresses like this one.
Just before sunset, the desert odyssey took me to Palmyra (the city of palms), the remnants of an oasis town from the Greco-Roman period; it was the symbol of independence of the country between the eras of two big empires: Roman and Persian. The story of the wise and beautiful queen Zenobia originated here; she did not bow to either empire and her country lived well from the road tax collected from caravans transporting silk, spice and perfume, on their way from the Far East to Europe. At one time her power grew so much that she conquered vast territories stretching all the way to Asia Minor and Egypt, she took the title of August and started minting coins with her countenance on them. Because of that Emperor Aurelian conquered and destroyed Palmyra, and the captured queen Zenobia had to walk in golden chains all the way to Rome, where she later poisoned herself to death. The Japanese government restored the fallen pillars and capitols, so that today you can get a glimpse of its brilliant former glory and beauty, especially if you look at it at sunset from the nearby fortress perched on a hill.
And finally Damascus, a city with a thousand year old cultural heritage which shines through from every square, every mosque, as well as through the looks and smiles of its citizens. I spent a long time in the Umayyad Mosque, one of the biggest and oldest mosques in the world, and the fourth most important Muslim place; I observed its many arches resting on Byzantine pillars. The history of this place goes back to the Bronze Age when the temple of God Hadad was located here; then the temple of Jupiter in Roman times; then the Basilica of St. John the Baptist which was turned into a mosque in the 8th century. Behind it is Sultan Saladin’s Mausoleum.
After the city tour I entered the most ancient hammam in this part of the world, barely being able to make out the contours of the shapes in the heavy steam which was penetrated with difficulty by a single ray of sunshine coming from the skylight on the dome. The warm slabs of stone were very pleasant after a day’s fatigue from sightseeing; without a word a shaved giant came around and started to give me a massage. He was not really gentle, yet it was a pleasant massage, followed by being washed with hot water and drinking mint tea.
I spent the evening on a hill above Damascus where couples in love watch the lights of the metropolis, maybe dreaming about New York.
They are probably not aware of how blessed they are to live right in the cradle of civilisation.

April 2001

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