THE OQAIBA NEIGHBORHOOD
We took a small tour in The Oqaiba Neighborhood. The tour was organized by "Friends of Damascus committee". The Oqaiba is a famous neighborhood located outside the fences of the city near Souk Saruja.
Taking the tour was somehow strange, who thought that on a main modern street and between high concrete buildings we would find a large old fancy house?
It is Al-Azem house, (not Al-Azem Palace), from its name we know that Al-Azem family who were the rulers of Syria during the 18 and 19 centuries lived in it. It was the house of Khaled Al-Azem the Syrian prime minister during the 50's, and a very known and respected figure.
The tour continued at Beit Soulaiman (Soulaimanís house), a typical house of the middle class with its small and nice courtyard.
The Oqaiba Neighborhood contains many old houses that we can consider national treasures. Al-Youssuf Family's house is a very famous one too, some say that it's lager than Al-Azem Palace itself! Many famous figures of Al-Youssuf family were strongly related to the Sultans of the Ottoman Empire, they were ministers or generals. We couldn't enter Al-Youssuf house because of restoration work.
Al-Azem house, Beit Soulaiman, and Al-Youssuf house were not the only interesting sites in the old Oqaiba Neighborhood; the neighborhood was full of historical Arabic bathes and mosques. Al-Taoubah mosque is a famous one built during the middle ages, it was a small copy of The Omayyad Mosque, this mosque was built on the ruins of a prostitution house in order of the Ayoubi King "Al-Ashraf Mussa ". The mosque was strongly damaged when the French Damascus in 29 September 1945.
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