A charming, laid-back neighbourhood of narrow alleys lined with small shops and punctuated by medieval tombs and mosques, Souq Saroujah is a fascinating place for a stroll.
In medieval times the areas immediately outside of the city walls were developed as burial places for the dead; you can still see this today, with large areas of cemeteries lying to the south of the old cities of both Damascus and Aleppo. Occasionally, however, the needs of the living would overwhelm those of the dead. Such was the case with the area now known as Souq Saroujah. During the Ayyubid era the fields just north of the Barada River became a favoured location for the tombs and mausoleums of nobles, and for several hundred years this site served as an exclusive burial ground. As the city expanded under the Ottomans, and space within the city walls was at a premium, the cemeteries became built over with the houses of well-off Turkish civil servants and military officers.
Unfortunately, the needs of the living are pressing once again, and many of the fine old houses have been demolished in the name of redevelopment.