Golden Flowing

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.


Sinan said...

Welcome back :) Glad you did well :)
Whenever I happen to see Barada I always remember the stories my dad told us about it and how it used to be, and during winter till late spring when the life return to it I just sit there and stare at it. There is 8 rivers that irragate Damascus or just let's say that should ran through it, of course all of them are dry right now but nothing hurts me more than the sight of our lost Barada.

Anonymous said...

nice picture...by the way sorry for the disconnection yesterday....bad lines....and i am happy for u and please find something to do in your life i am dying here and tell me when u r coming here to do some plan bye
habibi??? :-0

Hovic Atokian said...

It is sad generally to see a dried river. As in aleppo also, we have a river "queaik" which is now waste tube only.
In syria, only river Euphrates is a true river running in towns, i have seen it in Deir-Zor, which is beautiful.
Generally Kiev has most dramatic view of a city-crossing-river. It's wide somewhere reaches some kilometers.

JiimSiin جيم سين said...

Yeah, Barada is a sad story. Wait till you see the branch of Barada which runs along the northern wall of the old city, in the Farrayin neighbourhood. Yikes, it stinks terribly, and Im sure that people living in the poor houses on the other side of that branch are suffering tremendously. Their lives are polluted.

What makes the picture you sent even sadder, Ayman, is that fortress which takes itself for a hotel. There's a great amount of irony in calling such a colourless building "The Four Seasons".

Unknown said...

a river in the central garden of aleppo is completely dry cos' of the turks, plans, on water. Moreover; Syria, is in a position of "Hydric Stress" that we can notice in all geography books. The water war'll come soon, maybe, Syrian people should be carefuler, we can see that they are trhowing water in gardens, the are keepind the tap opened, while they do something else. those tiny things, seem to be non-important but in fact it is! Just have to See some "msalssalat" how they use water!
anyway keep on posting, nice work, as usual! nice for ur exams sir!

Martin said...

That's a sad story! Water is life. At least there is a symbol for hope there because the river comes again if only for a short while.

- Martin

Anonymous said...

Salamat Ayman,

Good to hear that you did well in your exam! Very nice picture! Damascus has so much changed since the last time I've been in it! The hotel was less than a skeleton then! Very nice to see the changes through your pictures :)

Anonymous said...

hi, Ayman! Good to have you back, i really like photos and comments in this blog...and for me this is the way to understand your country and people. Thanks again... :))

Ayman Haykal said...

Sinan, I feel the same when I listen to the songs by Fairouz about Damascus and Barada, or read poems about our ailing river. I always imagined how poets would feel when they see its current misery.

Gottfried, Sadly, the scene is much worse now with the river dry and dirty during summer months, and of course with the "Four Seasons" standing besdie, symbolizing the victory of ugly concrete!

Aleppian and Oz, I didn't know this happened to rivers of Aleppo too. Water is indeed a problem in this region, but I don't see any sign that we are trying to deal with it.

Bana, yes they finished it in a relatively short time. And the reason is that it's not a government project! Hope to see you soon in Damascus :)

Martin, long time no see! Good to hear from you again :)

Natalie, thanks! Hope you enjoy your time here :)

Ayman Haykal said...

And Mehsen, thanks a lot man. I will call you soon.

Martin said...

Thanks Ayman! It's good to be here :-)

- Martin

Anonymous said...

Thank you for such a great blog that keeps me in contact with my motherland. I am in Sweden and do not see a lot of my country here, so please keep on taking such great pictures of our city, mostly modern Damascus.

Kissman said...

I guess it's the sad story everywhere, here in Kuala Lumpur it's the same. Rivers in the city are replaced with concrete drains.