River Barada in Downtown Damascus.
Barada used to be known as the "artery of Damascus." It irrigated the oasis of Damascus, which largely consisted of the beautiful orchards of Al-Ghouta. In old times, the river was famed for its purity and crystal-clear water. The Greeks called it Chrysorrhoas: the golden flowing. There is even a biblical reference to this reputation: In the old Testament, when Naaman the Syrian was asked to wash in the Jordan, a muddy river, he complained saying:
"Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the rivers of Israel?"Abana is today's Barada, while Pharpar is probably either Al-Aa'waj river which also flows down Mount Hermon to Damascus, or Taura, a branch of Barada.
During the second half of the 20th century, Damascus quickly expanded. It's now home for almost 4 million people. The quick expansion of the city, the increasing consumption of water and the destruction of Ghouta by concrete residential blocks, resulted in the eventual death of Barada. The river that used to flood central Damascus every year is now almost completely dry in Summer. It flows at its highest level for a short time after the end of the rain- and snowfall season. This picture was taken in March.