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The city of Damascus is one of the oldest cities in the Middle East. It is bounded to the east by a desert and to the west by Mount Qasiyun. It is arrayed with over 125 monuments drawn from different historic periods. One of the most spectacular monuments is the 8th century great Mosque of Umayyads which is built on the site of Assyrian tabernacle. The city of Damascus was founded in the third millennium B.C as a result of cultural and commercial purposes. It is one of the oldest cities that have been continually habit globally. Initially, it was leading in craft industry with specialization on lace and swords.
Damascus is located at the crossroads between Asia and Africa. This implies that it attracts inhabitants from all over the world. During the medieval periods, it was the centre of craft industry and different areas of the city specialized in crafts and trades. It was the capital of Umayyad’s caliphates. This set a momentum for its development as a Muslim city and Arab city as well. The legacy has been followed by many dynasties that have left their mark in the same city. The city is based on Roman plan and its orientations as well as various aspects follows after many Greek cities. That is all the streets are oriented east-west or north-south. This is very typical of urban planning.
The city of Damascus is symbolically the onset of Greek civilization. It is characterized by unique aesthetic accomplishment starting from the Great Mosque and other monuments such as citadel, khans, Azem palace, private residences, madrasas, and public baths. It was the first capital for Islamic caliphate and also pioneered the subsequent development of other Arab cities. The Umayyad Great Mosque is one of the greatest mosques globally as well as the oldest prayer center since the rise of Islamic religion.
As mentioned earlier, Damascus was initially a center for craft industry with many areas of city specializing in trades and crafts. It is endowed with many cultural, artistic, and social activities. The city is directly related to various significant historical events, traditions, and ideas which are associated with Islamic period. Many residential areas are dominated by semi-industrial and commercial activities especially around the walls of the city and suburbs. The streets of the market are narrow and bordered by small shops.
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The spatial pattern of the city which is characterized by historic fabric has always intact since the ancient of days.
Comparison and Contrast
Just like Damascus, the development plan for Baghdad was in a geometric order associated by Greco-Roman period. However, the cities followed the regular plan of a city associated with the Muslim society. Baghdad was founded as an ideal city. The two cities borrow their originality from pre-Islamic urban traditions.