THE HIDDEN SPLENDORS


OF SYRIA


A FORGOTTEN LAND

Cancelled for 2004

DIRECTOR: DR. PHILLIP V. STANLEY

PROFESSOR OF CLASSICS

SAN FRANCISCO STATE UNIVERSITY


BOSRA
ITINERARY
At the crossroads of the Middle East, Syria’s colorful history dates back to primeval times. Yet, Syria remains a land to be discovered. This fascinating country, stretching from the shores of the Mediterranean Sea to beyond the Euphrates River, is extraordinarily rich in historical sites. And these ancient sites are refreshingly free of commercial ventures with an atmosphere of uncluttered authenticity no longer present at more well-trodden historical locations. Stately Roman ruins, ornately-painted Byzantine basilicas, awe-inspiring fortress-castles built by the Crusaders, and elegant Ottoman turbas (tombs) - all and more abound in this ancient land.
On this 16-day trip we will wonder at Krak de Chevaliers, probably the greatest castle in the world; see the magical ruins of Palmyra as they rise suddenly out of the infinite desert; visit Bosra, the southern capital of Roman Syria; and explore the more than eight kilometers of Aleppo’s fabulous covered bazaar. As we walk through these fascinating sites untethered by swarming crowds, we will appreciate the hospitality of Syria’s warm and friendly people. A six-day extension to Balbek in Lebanon and Petra in Jordan may be added to the trip.

Day 1: Leave U.S.A.

Day 2: Arrive Damascus. Overnight for the next two nights in the five-star Cham Palace Hotel, located conveniently in the downtown area. (D)

Day 3: Our full-day tour of Syria's capital begins with the Old City. First, we will visit the Chapels of Ananias and St. Paul, built at the site where Paul was lowered from the city wall in a basket. From here we enter the Old City through the Bab Sharqi, the Roman Gate of the Sun, walk past an ancient Roman arch into the suq, or modern bazaar, the lifeblood of the city, and on through the spice market, cloth merchants' stores, and the shops of the metal workers. Near the suq is the Azem Palace, the Ottoman palace built between 1749-52 for the governor of Damascus. The Umayyad Mosque sums up in one place the diverse and complex history of Syria. This magnificent monument contains the remains of the Roman Temple to Jupiter, a Byzantine arcade, a beautiful Umayyad mosaic in the courtyard, and the spacious prayer hall where the shrine of St. John the Baptist is located, said to house his head. We continue into the Citadel, passing several modern bathhouses, coffee shops, and private houses. In the afternoon we tour the Damascus National Museum with its collection from the entire history of Syria. (B/D)

Day 4: As we leave Damascus, we will stop at Seidnaya, location of the image of the Virgin, then visit Maalula, rich in historical and religious association and famed for its beautiful setting. and visit the most magnificent example of Medieval castles in Syria. In the 12th century, this great fortress known as Krak des Chevaliers was the home of the Knights Hospitaller, and it controlled the trade route between the Mediterranean and Damascus. From here, proceed through beautiful orchard and olive-growing country to the picturesque town of Safita. Here, the Crusader castle of Chastel Blanc sits atop the small mountain overshadowing the lovely town. Overnight at the Safita Cham Palace Hotel. (B/D)

Day 5: Drive to Amrit, site of a Phoenician religious center, Tartus, to see the Crusader remains of Our Lady of Tartosa, and Qala’at Marqab, a stunning Crusader fortress. Sitting on the edge of an extinct volcano, the black basalt ramparts stand out in dramatic relief against the turquoise-blue sky. We continue to Ugarit, the Bronze Age Canaanite seaport where ships from Egypt, Cyprus, Crete and Greece stopped to trade their wares for goods from the interior. The city is famous for the development of an alphabet that greatly simplified record-taking. Overnight Hotel Meridien in Lattakia. (B/D)

Day 6: This morning, we visit the spectacular crusader castle at Saldin, famed for its magnificent location perched atop a hill flanked by two spectacular ravines. Continue to the Roman city of Apamea. Walk in the footsteps of Antony and Cleopatra along the mile-long main street lined with massive columns concealing the facades of ancient shops. Visit the small site museum with the fine mosaics found at this site. Continue to Hama dating back to the Neolithic period. Overnight Hama Cham Palace. (B/D)

Day 7: Our first stop today is ancient Ebla, one of the most important and powerful city-states in northern Syria during the Bronze Age. Here, we will view a palace where more than 15,000 clay tablets were discovered. Continue to the Church of St. Simon Stelovitus. St. Simon lived atop a column for 42 years, and pilgrims came to consult him in life and after his death, and they continued to visit the splendid church that was built around the column. Overnight for two nights in Aleppo at the Hotel BeitWakil, a restored 16th century Aleppo palace. (B/D)

Day 8: Aleppo lies on a land route between Europe and the East and once was one of the major commercial cities of the Orient. Visit the ancient Tell, dating back to the Neolithic period and still containing remains of an early Islamic city, and the Great Mosque, founded by the Umayyad dynasty in the 8th century. Commerce has always been Aleppo’s claim to fame, and we will end our day in the old city’s suq where covered shops cover 8 square kilometers - the oldest enclosed shopping center in the world! The afternoon is free for you to explore the suq or visit the Aleppo Museum containing an important collection of artifacts from all periods. (B/D)

Day 9: Drive into the Syrian Desert to the Euphrates River and follow an ancient caravan route to the abandoned city of Rasafa. The site of the martyrdom of the Roman soldier St. Sergius, the city is still enclosed by still-standing ancient walls of light-reflecting gypsum that sparkle in the sunlight. Visit the beautiful marble Basilica of St. Sergius, the destination of many Christian pilgrims in the Byzantine Era. Continue to Halabiye, a massive fortification designed to secure the Roman and Byzantine frontiers along the Euphrates River. Overnight for two nights in the Furat Cham Palace in Deir ez Zor. (B/D)

Day 10: Explore the furthest outpost of the Roman Empire, Dura Europos, overlooking the Euphrates River and the fertile plain beyond. Within the massive walls of the city are the remains of a synagogue, a Christian chapel, and the Temple of Zeus. At the ancient site of Mari, an important trading center in the 3rd and 2nd millennium BC, we walk through the ruins of the ancient palace into a labyrinth temple complex. Return to Deir ez Zor for the night. (B/D)

Day 11: This morning we will travel deep into the desert to explore Qasr al-Heir al-Sharqi, a remote castle built by Caliph Hisham as a hunting palace during the Omayyad period. The vast walled enclosure contains the remains of two castles, with two semi-cylindrical towers. Overnight for two nights in the Palmyra Cham Palace. Time permitting, explore the suq where we might see Bedouin women dressed in vivid satin robes with tattooed faces and hands. (B/L/D)

Day 12: Spend today exploring the extensive remains of Palmyra, sometimes called the Queen of the Desert and known since antiquity as Tadmor. Located midway between the Mediterranean and the Euphrates, this oasis was an essential watering place for the many camel caravans that formerly traversed the route in the time of the Roman Empire. Visit the massive Temple of Bel, dedicated to the god who controlled the movement of the stars, the colonnaded street running to the Funerary Temple, the recently restored theatre, the 2nd-century agora, and the Tetrapylon. In the Valley of the Tombs, we will see underground catacombs, house tombs, and towers designed as the burial apartments for an entire family. And, finally, we will have a wonderful photographic opportunity as we watch the spectacular sunset create a rosy hue on the remains of this breath-taking city. (B/L/D)

Day 13: Today, we drive to Dumeir, site of the intact Roman temple to Zeus Hypistos (245 AD), and on to southern Syria to see the Roman city of Bosra, the southern capital of Roman Syria. We visit one of the best-preserved Roman theaters, converted to a fortress in Omayyad times. The castle fortifications completely encircled the original theatre, and a moat was dug with a single bridge for entry. The spectacular amphitheater seats 9,000 people. Overnight tonight in the Bosra Cham Palace. (B/D)

Day 14: Drive from Bosra to Shahba, the Roman city of Philippolis. The ancient walls and buildings of the city were constructed from black volcanic rock. After exploring the well-preserved theatre and extensive baths, we will visit the museum where exquisite 4th-century mosaics are on display. Continue to Qanawat, perhaps the most enchanting of Syria’s ancient cities, where the Roman ruins are scattered amidst a grove of huge oak trees. Our last stop will be in the modern museum at Suweiyda to see a well laid out to display spectacular Roman mosaics. Return to the Damascus Cham Palace for the next two nights. (B/D)

Day 15: Today is free to shop in the bazaar, revisit the Umayyad mosque or Damascus National Museum, or to explore new areas of this timeless city. (or cross the border into Lebanon on the extension.) We will join together in the evening for our gala final dinner party. (B/D)

Day 16: We bid farewell to Syria. (B)

 

THE HIDDEN SPLENDORS OF SYRIA: A Forgotten Land

Balbek, Lebanon & Jordan Extension

June 8- 13, 2000

Day 15: All day tour into Lebanon to visit marvelous Ba’albek. Already converted into a fortress during the Byzantine era, the former temple precincts changed hands several times during the Arab invasions in the 7th and 8th centuries. Beginning with the First Crusade in the 11th century, the castle became an important outpost; it was captured by Saladin in 1174 and passed to his grandnephew upon his death. Return to the Damascus Cham Palace for the night. (B/L/D)

Day 16: Cross into Jordan and drive to Jerash. Nestled in a green and fertile valley in the biblical land of Gilead, the remains of this ancient city are impressive. Stroll along Jerash’s colonnaded streets, through ancient marketplaces, and visit imposing theaters sit beside its Roman, Christian and Muslim houses of worship. Overnight in Amman, Jordan at the Amman International Hotel. (B/D)

Day 17: Today’s excursion is filled with history. Madaba was intermittently inhabited for nearly 3,500 years. It contains the most impressive work of art to survive from the mid-6th century - a mosaic map of Palestine, located within St. George’s Church. According to the Bible, nearby Mt. Nebo was the place that Moses died. On the peak of Siyagha (Nebo’s name in Arabic), early Christians constructed a church to honor Moses, and we will visit the ruins of the 6th-century basilica, the Chapel of the Virgin Mary, and the monastery. The Church of Saints Lot and Procopius, Martyrs was excavated in 1935, and contains a masterpiece of the Madaba School of mosaics. Overnight for three nights in Petra at the five-star Movenpick Hotel. Dinner is free. (B/L)

Day 18: Spend all day in the capital city that the Nabataean Arabs carved and built at Petra almost 2,500 years ago. One of the marvels of the Classical World, Petra offers much more than stunning antiquities. Within a 25-mile radius, we will explore an exceptional array of monuments and entire settlements that span the last 9,000 years of human civilization. Dinner is free. (B/L)

Day 19: This morning, return to Petra for further explorations. After lunch, continue to Bieda (or Little Petra), one of the most extraordinary ancient sites in the entire Middle East. Walk among the standing walls, plastered floors and doorways of a village that was inhabited between 7000-6500 BC, at a time when humankind was first making the transition from nomadic hunter-gatherers to year-round settled villages. (B/L/D)

Day 20: Return to Amman and enjoy a tour of the city. Overnight at the Amman International Hotel. Final dinner party. (B/L/D)

Day 21: Transfer to the airport for our return flight to the USA. (B)

TRIP LEADER: Phillip Stanley received an MA in Biblical Theology from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley and another in Ancient Greek from the University of California. He earned his Ph.D. from the Uni-versity of California at Berkeley in the areas of Greek History, Greek Archaeology, and Sumerian Studies. He has been a Professor of Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology at San Francisco State University for over twenty years. During that time he has been involved in several overseas study programs and tours. He has twice served as the academic director for the SFSU Semester in Athens Program and once on the London Se-mester, and he excavated in Turkey as a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1997, Dr. Stanley was the academic director for the Fall Semester program in Greece. He is a brilliant teacher with a warm personality, and an ideal leader for this trip.

TRIP DATES: May 24-June 8, 2002

EXTENSION: June 8-June 13, 2001

TRIP COST: $5695.00 (per person, double occupancy) includes international airfare from New York's JFK to Damascus on Royal Air Jordanian, all hotels, most meals as noted in the brochure, entry fees, and land transpor-tation. Cost does not include passport or visa fees, airport or departure taxes, beverages or food not included on regular menus, laundry, excess baggage charges, personal tips, alcoholic drinks, or other items of a personal na-ture.

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT: $614.00 Should a roommate be requested and one not be available, the single sup-plement must be charged.

EXTENSION COST: $1695.00 (per person, double occupancy) includes all hotels, all entry fees, meals as noted, and English-speaking guide. Single supplement is

DEPOSIT AND FINAL PAYMENT: A deposit of $500.00 is required with your reservation. Final payment is due 75 days before departure. Cancellations received in writing at least 75 days before departure will result in an administration fee of $250.00. Cancellations received less than 75 days before the starting date will not re-ceive a refund. Should you for any reason be unable to complete the tour, FAR HORIZONS will not reimburse any fees. The purchase of travel insurance with trip cancellation is strongly recommended.

LIMITED TO 15 PARTICIPANTS

FurtherInformation
Printable application

For further information contact:

Professor Stanley
5980 Grizzly Peak Blvd
Piedmont, CA 94611