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The National Museum of Damascus: A Journey Through Syria’s Rich Cultural Heritage.

The photograph immortalizes the entrance of the National Museum of Damascus, where tourists eagerly capture their own photographs.
The National Museum of Damascus:

The National Museum in Damascus was established in 1919 under the supervision of the Ministry of Education. Initially, the museum’s collection was housed at the Madrasa al-‘Adiliya, but as the collection grew, plans for a larger museum were set into motion. In 1936, the discovery of the Umayyad palace of Qasr al-Hayr al-Gharbi in the Syrian desert further emphasized the need for a new museum. A building near Al-Takiyya al-Sulaymaniya was chosen as the location for the National Museum of Damascus.

To highlight the importance of the Islamic period, the Directors of Antiquities decided to incorporate the palatial finds from Qasr al-Hayr al-Gharbi into the National Museum. The front façade of the palace was carefully reconstructed as the museum’s main entrance, while the side halls and second floor were designated for the significant artistic finds from the early Islamic palace. The completion of the display took several years, and the official opening of the museum was celebrated in 1950.

In 1953, a three-story wing was added to accommodate and showcase ancient oriental antiquities, the Islamic period, modern Syrian art, and temporary exhibitions. Subsequent extensions included three double halls for the Islamic period, a new lecture hall designed as a 19th-century Damascene reception hall, and a library. These additions were opened to the public in 1963.

Further expansions took place in 1974, specifically dedicated to the Palaeolithic period. Lastly, in 2004, the temporary exhibition wing was transformed into a permanent collection of Neolithic antiquities.

Today, the National Museum of Damascus comprises several sections, including Palaeolithic, Neolithic, Ancient Syrian Oriental, Classical, Islamic, and Modern Arts. As the largest and most significant museum in Syria, it is a must-visit destination for anyone exploring the country. The museum’s collections span various historical periods, offering a captivating glimpse into the region’s rich cultural heritage.

Visitors to the National Museum of Damascus can embark on a captivating journey through time, accompanied by knowledgeable experts who provide fascinating insights. The meticulously preserved artefacts offer a window into Syria’s ancient civilizations and their impressive contributions to art, science, and culture.

The museum showcases artefacts from diverse archaeological sites, shedding light on Syria’s prehistoric, ancient, and classical eras. Exhibits from renowned sites like Tel Abu Hureyra, Tel Mardikh/Ebla, Ras Shamra/Ugarit, and Tel al-Hariri/Mari offer glimpses into the earliest civilizations that flourished in the region. The Roman and Byzantine periods are also well-represented, showcasing the artistic and architectural achievements of these influential empires. Additionally, the museum features exhibits from later Arab/Islamic sites, highlighting the region’s Islamic heritage.

Upon entering the museum, visitors are greeted by a reconstruction of the gateway to Qasr al-Heir al-Gharbi, an Umayyad-era palace located in the south-eastern desert of Homs. Although little remains of the original structure, the reconstructed entryway provides a glimpse into the architectural grandeur of the past.

While photography is not permitted inside the museum, the surrounding gardens offer an opportunity to capture the beauty of the statues and mosaics from the Roman, Byzantine, and Arab periods. These lush gardens provide a serene setting to relax and appreciate the artistic treasures on display. Additionally, there is a small café within the museum premises, allowing visitors to enjoy refreshments during their visit.

A visit to the National Museum in Damascus is a captivating journey through time, offering a comprehensive exploration of Syria’s diverse and fascinating history. From ancient civilizations to Islamic heritage, the museum’s exhibits provide a meaningful connection to the country’s rich cultural legacy.

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