A trip of a lifetime Syria- Damascus, Krak des Chaveliers Allepo and Jordan and Mt Sinai

Phil Cooper

Phil Cooper HistoricTravelTalks
East Midlands
Notice Period:
Short (maybe less than one month's notice)
U3A, Rotary, Probus, Schools
16th April 2019
Syria | Crusader Fortress | Petra | Damascus

Some may well have visited Egypt and Turkey, but these days it is obviously difficult to visit Syria.

Dasmascus is the oldest inhabited city in the world and is where the mausoleum to Saladin is located.The Ummayad Mosque is one of the largest and oldest mosques in the world and considered by some Muslims to be one of the holiest places in Islam. Photos copy and paste


My favourite place in Syria is Krak des Chevaliers, a crusader fortress, with Kurdish origins. It was developed by the Knights Hospitaller in the 1140's, before falling to Sultan Baibars, the Mameluk in 1271. It was described by TE Lawrence as 'the best preserved and most wholly admirable castle in the world,'

I was fortunate enough to visit Palmyra and obtain what I feel are impressive photographs. It is tragic that this city, dating back originally to the Neolithic period and then developing as a trade flourished, was laid to waste by ISIS. Notable buildings are plentiful, but worth noting are the Temple of Bel, mentioned in the bible and Hadrians Triumphant Arch leading on to the colonnade.

Allepo has an impressive citadel and boasts one of the largest souks in the Middle East. For me it was sad to see scenes on the television of late of damage to the area from explosives such as barrel bombs. The people of Syria were very pleasant and more reserved than some areas of the Middle East and its sad to see what has happened to the country.

Jordan of course has many memorable sights. If people have not been to Petra, originally developed by the Nabateans (4th C BC) or Wadi Rum, they might wish to know about them. However Jerash was the Romans largest centre in Jordan, which became part of the Byzantine area of influence.

TE Lawrence had his headquarters at Wadi Rum during the Arab revolt against the Ottomans and was also associated with Petra. Others sights include another crusader fortress, Karak and Mount Nebo, where Moses is reputably buried.

Karak is understated as a crusader castle, was the stronghold of Reynald. By attacking a muslim caravan he precipitated the ultimate defeat of the Franks at the battle of Hattin and thence the fall of Jerusalem.

The trip in its entirety was Cairo to Istanbul, which included sights such Mount Sinai in Egypt. I am of course willing to customise the talk to focus and areas which people might find of particular interest and might have had experience of.

Views: 480 | Enquiries: 3

About Phil Cooper

The accent is on the visual, with enough verbal to explain the story of where I have visited. I have accumulated what I feel are good photographs to illustrate my talks which relate to my travel experience. These are to places, often with a historical background and often not readily visited. These include Syria and Jordan, the Silk Road in Central Asia and Western China,, India, Cuba and Peru.

“Great presentation – I spoke to people tonight they were the cleanest photos seen at a Travel Club Presentation. Very good 9 out of 10. It must have been good, hardly anyone dropped off to sleep!” (Taradale Travel Club New Zealand).

My blog site is http://historictraveltalks.blogspot.co.uk (Copy and paste)

One recent trip I undertook was to Northern India and the wildlife reserves in Assam, such as Kaziranga, where there is a large variety of wildlife, including the vulnerable One Horned Rhino. This is the basis of a talk which was well received at Havelock North Rotary Club, Hawkes Bay New Zealand in February 2018.

I look back at my trip in the Middle East - from Cairo to Istanbul and reflect on what I saw then and what I see currently in places like Aleppo. However the highlight for me was the crusader fortress of Krak des Chevaliers, which is shown on the photo I have included. This was described by TE Lawrence as "perhaps the best preserved and most wholly admirable castle in the world". Indeed he associated with many places along this journey.

I research the topics thoroughly and I provide a narrative and background to illustrated talks. I operate on a voluntary basis and am prepared to travel within reasonable distances from my home in North Nottinghamshire.

 Along the Silk Road in Central Asia Talk Feedback

This part of Central Asia included in particular Kunya Urgench, Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand. The buildings are simply stunning and the area is historically very interesting. It is the arena where the Great Game was played out, the political and diplomatic confrontation between Britain and Russia in the 19th century, which was described by one of the audience as fascinating.

"Very interesting talk. I could hear every word. I knew nothing about this area and learnt a lot. Pleased I came!!"

“Your talk was extremely interesting and I do believe, if you had spoken for much longer   everyone should enjoy it, and no-one would be bored. I did like the aspect that you kept referring to the map when relating to the history this indeed helps when discussing reasons and timings when situations occurred in the distant past. I also feel that your talk appeals to almost all  age groups, and both male and female.”

I am a former graduate Biology teacher and also coached cricket for 24 seasons. mainly in New Zealand,Scotland and Amsterdam. as a professional.

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