The first mention of Damascus is in
Egyptian records of four thousand years ago,as a city conquered in the
15th century BC by the Pharaoh Thutmosis III. According to the Old
Testament, it was once the capital of the Aramean Kingdom in
the 11th Century BC. In the 10th Century BC, it started being attacked
and it was in battle with several other kingdoms including the Hebrews
After 1200 BC the kingdom of Damascus became a powerful state that
long defied Assyria. Finally, in 732 BC, it was taken over by
Tiglath Pileser II ordered by the King of Judea, Achaz. Some years
after the fall of the Assyrian capital, Nineveh, the Kingdom of
Damascus was destroyed by Babylon.
Damascus was conquered in 333 BC by Parmenion,
one of Alexander's lieutenants, who took it from the
Persians. It later fell to the Seleucids who fell into
dispute with a branch of the empire of the Macedonian conqueror,
the Lagides, who ruled Egypt. In 66 BC it was occupied by Pompey
and belonged to the province of Syria.
At the beginning of this era, St. Paul was sent to put down the
Christians, he had the revelation of faith. He was directed by Jesus
(in the vision of light) to the house of Judas. There he met Ananias
and together they preached for Christ.
Under the Byzantine Empire, Damascus was an important base for
watching over the Syrian Desert, But it was fatally looted by
the Sassanid Persians. Damascus was later besieged by the Muslim
faith fighters in 635 AD, and was retaken by Khaled Ibn al Waleed in
636. This meant a radical change of civilization for this city as it
swung from Byzantium and Christianity to the Orient and the Semitic
world. This marked the beginning of the city?s golden age which
reached its apex in 661, when it became the capital of the Great Arab
Empire that stretched from Spain to India, under the Umayyad
Damascus was the most important centre of Arab Islamic culture before
it lost most of its importance to Baghdad in 750. This golden age
ended with the Abbasids who moved the Capital to Baghdad. From
then on, it fell under the power of various Muslim sects and
sovereigns, the most important of which was the Egyptian Fatimids.
It later went through another rich period, when Saladin took it
from the Fatimids and started the Ayyubid Dynasty. At the time
it was battling against the Franks (the Crusaders). Numerous monuments
built by Nur al Din and Saladin are still the pride of Damascus.
In 1260 it was taken
over by the Mamelukes of Egypt who pushed the Mongols
back. The city was captured by the Ottoman Sultan Salim I in 1516 and
the Ottoman occupation lasted for the next four centuries, until World
After World War I, a very exhausted Damascus was liberated in 1918, by
an Arab contingent under the command of the British Army of General
Allenby. The Syrian National Congress was formed in 1919 under the
Emir Faisal who came from Hedjaz. He was named King of
Syria in 1920, but British and France had their own different
plans, and one month later was taken over by the French in the
name of the League of Nations. However, the Syrian people decided to
In 1925, the Great
Syrian Revolution against the French was launched from Jabal-al-Arab.
Many battles between the revolts and the French troops took place in
the farms of al-Ghouta outside Damascus. The city was bombed by the
French and parts of it were severely damaged. Again in 1945, the
French carried out a similar aggression against the Syrian Parliament
buildings in Damascus.
After resistance and a few uprisings, Syria was proclaimed
Independent by the French general, Catroux, on September 16th
1941. This however was not taken into effect until 1946 and since then
has been considerably developed and industrialized while its political
role was strengthened thanks to an increased centralization.
The Syrian capital had
witnessed great changes during the past 50 years. Much modernization
had occurred. The city?s area and population count doubled many times.
Today an estimated population of 3 million lives in Damascus.