Sunday, November 10, 2013


As Syria's tragic war continues without a resolution in sight, the conflict's death toll continues to soar. But this isn't the only disastrous consequence of the conflict — Syria's breathtaking historical and architectural heritage is being blasted to pieces by the ongoing war, too. Here are five of the most significant sites and buildings that have been damaged or destroyed.

1. The Umayyad Mosque (this is the small Umayyad Mosque in Aleppo, not the big one in Damascus). Located in the old city of Aleppo, the Umayyad Mosque is another one of Syria’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites; it is also one of the oldest and most important mosques in the world. In an interview with the Daily Mail, Helga Seeden, professor of archaeology at the American University of Beirut, put this loss into context: "This is like blowing up the Taj Mahal or destroying the Acropolis in Athens. This mosque is a living sanctuary... This is a disaster. In terms of heritage, this is the worst I've seen in Syria. I'm horrified."

2. Aleppo's Souk Al-Madina. This medieval souk, the largest covered historic market in the world, was badly burned and partially destroyed during fighting that began in September of 2012.

3. Al-Omari Mosque. This mosque, founded in the early eighth century by the second Caliph of Islam, Omar, is one of the oldest mosques in the world.

4. Crac des Chevaliers. One of Syria’s six UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Crac des Chevaliers is one of the world’s most important medieval castles still in existence.

5. Palmyra. As the fighting in and around this ancient desert oasis, the breathtaking ruins have been rocked by shells, mortar bombs, and rockets.

(I'm particularly saddened by this story as ten years ago I traveled with a small group to the sites mentioned. -- N.B.)


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