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Views of the Great (Umayyad) Mosque of Damascus from the air and from the ground

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Ground View from Bernard Gagnon - Wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0

Transliterated Name Language Name
Damascus English
Damascus Latin Damascus
Damascus Ancient Greek Δαμασκός
Dimašq Modern Arabic دمشق‎
aš-Šām Local Arabic colloquialism الشَّام
Madīnat al-Yāsmīn Arabic ܕمَدِينَةُ الْيَاسْمِينِ
Darmswq Classical Syriac ܕܰܪܡܣܘܩ‎‎
Dammaśq Old Aramaic דמשק
Dammeśeq Biblical Hebrew דַּמֶּשֶׂק
Damask Modern Hebrew דמשק
T-m-ś-q Ancient Egyptian (15th century BCE)
Imerišú Akkadian
Dimasqa Amarna letters - Akkadian
Dimàsqì Amarna letters - Akkadian
Dimàsqa Amarna letters - Akkadian

Damascus resides in a basin east of the Anti-Lebanon range, at the foot of Mt. Qasiyun. Despite low annual rainfall, the plain is well watered by the Barada River allowing Damascus to exist as an oasis. Damascus has one of the longest periods of occupation (perhaps the longest period of occupation) of any city in the world. Due to its high urban density, very little excavation has been possible in Damascus (Stern et al, 1993). In 661 CE, the Umayyad Caliphate moved the capital to Damascus where it remained until 744 CE when Caliph Marwan II moved the capital to Harran. It was during the Umayyad period that the the Great Mosque of Damascus was built on the site of a Christian Basilica dedicated to John the Baptist. Construction was completed in 715 CE. When the Abbasid Caliphate supplanted the Umayyad Caliphate in 750 CE, the capital of the Caliphate moved to Baghdad.

Aerial Views and Plans
Aerial Views and Plans

Aerial Views

  • Damascus in Google Earth
  • Great Mosque of Damascus in Google Earth


  • Fig. 1.8 Plan of early Islamic Damascus from Whitcomb (2016)

Notes and Further Reading

Articles and Books

Allen, Terry (1999), Ayyubid Architecture, Occidental: Solipsist Press, ISBN 0-944940-02-1.

Adorni, Elisa; Venturelli, Giampiero (2010), "Mortars and Stones of the Damascus Citadel (Syria)", International Journal of Architectural Heritage, 4 (4): 337–350, doi:10.1080/15583050903121851

Berthier, Sophie (2006), "La Citadelle de Damas: les apports d'une étude archéologique", in Kennedy, Hugh (ed.), Muslim Military Architecture in Greater Syria: From the Coming of Islam to the Ottoman Period, History of Warfare (in French), 35, Leiden: Brill, pp. 151–164, ISBN 90-04-14713-6.

Burns, Ross (2005), Damascus: A History, Milton Park: Routledge, ISBN 0-415-27105-3.

Charette, François (2003), Mathematical instrumentation in fourteenth-century Egypt and Syria: the illustrated treatise of Najm al-Dīn al-Mīṣrī, BRILL, ISBN 978-90-04-13015-9

Chevedden, Paul (1986), The Citadel of Damascus, Ann Arbor: U.M.I. Dissertation Information Service, OCLC 640193186

Gabrieli, Francesco (1984), Arab Historians of the Crusades, Berkeley: University of California Press, ISBN 978-0-520-05224-6

Dumper, Michael; Stanley, Bruce E. (2007). Cities of the Middle East and North Africa: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 1-57607-919-8.

Finkel, Caroline (2005), Osman's dream: the story of the Ottoman Empire, 1300-1923, Basic Books, ISBN 0-465-02396-7.

Flood, Finbarr Barry (2001). The Great Mosque of Damascus: studies on the makings of an Umayyad visual culture. Boston: BRILL. ISBN 90-04-11638-9.

Flood, Finbarr Barry (1997). "Umayyad Survivals and Mamluk Revivals: Qalawunid Architecture and the Great Mosque of Damascus". Muqarnas. Boston: BRILL. 14: 57–79. doi:10.2307/1523236.

Hitti, Phillip K. (October 2002). History of Syria: Including Lebanon and Palestine. Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press LLC. ISBN 978-1-931956-60-4.

Christof Galli (2001), "Middle Eastern Libraries", International Dictionary of Library Histories, Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, ISBN 1579582443, 1579582443

Hillenbrand, Carole (2000), The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives, New York: Routledge, ISBN 978-0-415-92914-1.

Ibn Khaldūn; Fischel, Walter Joseph (1952). Ibn Khaldūn and Tamerlane: their historic meeting in Damascus, 1401 a.d. (803 a. h.) A study based on Arabic manuscripts of Ibn Khaldūn's "Autobiography". University of California Press.

Kleiner, Fred. Gardner's Art through the Ages, Vol. I Cengage Learning, 2013. p. 264

Le Strange, Guy (1890), Palestine Under the Moslems: A Description of Syria and the Holy Land from A.D. 650 to 1500, Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund (Ibn Jubayr: p.240 ff)

Qummi, Shaykh Abbas (2005). Nafasul Mahmoom. Qum: Ansariyan Publications. p. 362.

Ibn Ṣaṣrā, Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad (1963). William M. Brinner (ed.). A chronicle of Damascus, 1389-1397 American architect and architecture, 1894, p.58.

Tafseer Ibn Katheer, vol.9, p.163, published in Egypt. Tafseer Durre Manthur Vol.6, p.30-31.

Takeo Kamiya (2004). "Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, Syria". Eurasia News. Retrieved 31 December 2015.

Rosenwein, Barbara H. A short history of the Middle Ages. University of Toronto Press, 2014. p. 56

Walker, Bethany J. (Mar 2004). "Commemorating the Sacred Spaces of the Past: The Mamluks and the Umayyad Mosque at Damascus". Near Eastern Archaeology. The American Schools of Oriental Research. 67 (1): 26–39. doi:10.2307/4149989.

M. Lesley Wilkins (1994), "Islamic Libraries to 1920", Encyclopedia of library history, New York: Garland Pub., ISBN 0824057872, 0824057872

Wolff, Richard (2007), The Popular Encyclopedia of World Religions: A User-Friendly Guide to Their Beliefs, History, and Impact on Our World Today, Harvest House Publishers, ISBN 0-7369-2007-2

Whitcomb, D. (2016) “Notes for an archaeology of Muʿāwiya: material culture in the transitional period of believers.” In A. Borrut and F. M. Donner, eds. Christians and Others in the Umayyad State. (2016). United States: Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.

Winter, Michael; Levanoni, Amalia (2004). The Mamluks in Egyptian and Syrian politics and society. BRILL. ISBN 90-04-13286-4.


Citadel of Damascus at

Umayyad Mosque in Damascus at

Umayyad Mosque Profile Archived 2010-11-20 at the Wayback Machine. Archnet Digitial Library.

Great Mosque of Damascus - Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Notes - Marwan II's order to destroy walls

Wellhausen (1927:382-383) relates that in the summer of 746 CE (A.H. 128) during the 3rd Muslim Civil War, Marwan II ordered the walls of Hims, Jerusalem, Baalbek, Damascus, and other prominent Syrian cities razed to the ground. In Theophanes entry for A.M.a 6237, we can read in Mango and Scott (1997:587)'s translation (Turtledove's translation is available here):

[A.M. 6237, AD 744/5] ...

At that time Marouam, after victoriously taking Emesa [aka Homs], killed all the relatives and freedmen of Isam. He also demolished the walls of Helioupolish [aka Baalbek] Damascus, and Jerusalem, put to death many powerful men, and maimed those remaining in the said cities.

Wikipedia pages

Wikipedia page for Damascus

Wikipedia page for the Great Mosque of Damascus