Damascus – Baalbek – Maalula – Mar musa – Crac des Chevaliers – Palmyra – Aleppo
10 Days – 9 Nights
Day 1: Arrival Beirut Int’l Airport – Beirut
Arrival to Beirut Int’l Airport, meet Nawafir representative at arrival hall, then drive to hotel for overnight.
Day 2: Beirut – Baalbek – Ksara – Damascus
Breakfast. Drive to the Bekaa-Valley which invites you to the heart of the most beautiful vine growing areas in the world. Cold and snowy winters, dry and hot summers, cool nights and misty mornings, are all ideal conditions for getting vintages that produce exceptional wines. Grapes varieties include Syrah, Merlot, Cabarnet-Sauvignon, Mourvedre, Carignan, and many others. Upon arrival in the Bekaa, visit Baalbek, This Phoenician city, where a triad of deities was worshipped, was known as Heliopolis during the Hellenistic period. It retained its religious function during Roman times, when the sanctuary of the Heliopolitan Jupiter attracted thousands of pilgrims. Baalbek, with its colossal structures, is one of the finest examples of Imperial Roman architecture at its apogee. Afterwards, continue to visit Ksara, located in the heart of the Beqaa, where several vineries produce exquisite wine and arak. Afterwards drive to Damascus for overnight.
Day 3: Damascus
Breakfast. Damascus, founded in the 3rd millennium B.C., is one of the oldest cities in the Middle East. In the Middle Ages, it was the centre of a flourishing craft industry, specializing in swords and lace. Damascus boasts some 125 monuments from different periods of its history; the National Museum which houses the finest collection of archaeological artifacts from around the country. Among its treasures are a fragment of the oldest known alphabet in the world, unearthed at Ugarit, and an 1800-year-old synagogue transported piece by piece from Dura Europos on the Euphrates River; the Umayyad Mosque, which is named for Islam’s first ruling dynasty, and is one of the great monuments to the ingenuity of early Islam. It occupies the site of sacred temples going back to the second millennium B.C. – first a temple to the Semitic god Hudod, the Greek god Zeus, and the Roman god Jupiter, then a Christian Church dedicated to John the Baptist, and finally a mosque; the Azem Palace, the luxurious home of the Ottoman governor; Souq Al Hamidiyeh, the bustling covered bazaar that fills the senses with colours and life; the Mausoleum of Saladin, the great leader who liberated Jerusalem from the Crusaders; the legendary Street Called Straight mentioned in the Bible, which spans the old city’s length from East to West; the Chapel of St. Ananias and St. Paul’s Window, from which Paul the evangelist was lowered to escape the Romans; and Bab Touma, the Christian quarter with its charming alleyways and handicraft shops. Overnight in Damascus.
Day4: Damascus – Maalula – Mar Musa – Crac des Chevaliers
Breakfast. Drive to Maalulal, which attracts visitors both for its charm, and for its importance in the history of Syrian Christianity. Homes in Maalula are gaily painted in violet and blue pastels, and perched abreast an imposing gorge between two mountains. Maalula is also home to a population that still speaks a dialect of Aramaic, the language of Jesus Christ, and to two historic Christian monasteries: one Greek Orthodox dedicated to St. Thekla, the other Greek Catholic dedicated to Saint Sergius. Continue to visit Mar Musa Monastery. Descend deeper into the Anti-Lebanon valley to secluded Deir Mar Mousa, a living monastic community dedicated to inter-religious communion. The monastery was named for St. Moses the Abyssinian, the son of an Ethiopian king who renounced his kingdom for that of God. It was revived by the Italian Jesuit Father Paolo dell’Oglio in 1984 after being abandoned in the 19th century. Built in 1058, the church at the monastery contains frescoes dating as far back as the 11th century. Proceed for overnight near Crac.
Day5: Crac des Chevaliers
Breakfast. Drive to visit the Monastery of St. George of al Humaira, one of the oldest monasteries in Syria; afterwards drive to visit Crac des Chevaliers which is the most spectacular but least known medieval castle in the world. 65 km (40 miles) West of Homs at 650 m (1985 ft) above sea level. Krac has unbelievable architecture and occupies a strategic location overlooking Wadi al-Nasara, and is truly one of the unrivalled wonders of the world. This Crusader’s Castle of the knights – or Qalaat al Hosn as it is known in Arabic – is an unforgettable sight of grandeur. Overnight nearby Crac des Chevaliers
Day 6: Crac des Chevaliers – Palmyra – Hama
Breakfast. Drive to Palmyra (UNESCO Site), an oasis in the Syrian desert, north-east of Damascus, Palmyra contains the monumental ruins of a great city that was one of the most important cultural centres of the ancient world. From the 1st to the 2nd century, the art and architecture of Palmyra, standing at the crossroads of several civilizations, married Graeco-Roman techniques with local traditions and Persian influences. Drive to Hama for overnight.
Day 7: Hama – Aleppo
Breakfast. Short visit of the city of Hama which is laying on both sides of the Orontes’s banks, adorned by its enormous wooden ‘Norias’ or waterwheels, which have creaked and churned in the Orontes channels since Roman times. Visit the twisting alleyways of Hama’s charming old city. Afterwards drive to Syria’s second largest city, Aleppo which looks back on an impressive history of nearly 8000 years, competing with Damascus for the claim to fame of the oldest continually inhabited city in the world. Due to its key location connecting the Eastern and Western worlds, Aleppo has a reputation as a city of savvy traders and merchants. Overnight in Aleppo
Day 8: Aleppo
Breakfast. Morning visit the Aleppo citadel, an impregnable fortress and the finest example of Arab architecture in the Middle East, stands high above the city on a hill, which conceals layers of civilization dating as far back as the Hittites, afternoon free in Aleppo. Overnight in Aleppo.
Day 9: Aleppo – Sednaya – Damascus
Breakfast. drive to Damascus with a short stop en route in Sednaya, in Arabic Our Lady, which is renowned for its picturesque views and Christian heritage. After Jerusalem, Sednaya has been the most famous center for Christian pilgrimage in the east since the 6th A.D. Overnight in Damascus.
Day 10: Damascus – Beirut Int’l Airport
Breakfast. Drive to Beirut Int’l Airport for departure.
This is a sample itinerary and a tailor-made program can be offered upon request. For individual or group travelers, tour services may include the following:
• Meet and greet, assistance with visa formalities.
• Accommodation as per your chosen hotels category (3, 4 & 5 stars).
• Transportation in a modern A/C vehicles with English speaking drivers.
• Meal Plan, Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner, at hotels or in local restaurants.
• Entrance fees to all archeological sites.
• Multi-lingual guides.