Monuments & Archaeological Sites

Archaeology and built heritage (♥)

The Directorate of Excavations and Archaeological Studies, the Al-Basil Center for Archaeological Research and Training, the Directorate of Historic Buildings as well as the Site Management Department all fall under the authority of the Directorate-General of Antiquities and Museums (DGAM), the government agency that is responsible for the protection, promotion and excavation activities in all sites of national heritage in the country (for more on DGAM see Wikipedia and Facebook). The Directorate of Excavations and Archaeological Studies is responsible for the managing, organizing and supervising excavation works inside Syria and cataloging any findings.

Saint Simeon

St Simeon ruins in Syria. (Photo by: Ai@ce, Creative Commons)

The Ministry of Culture launched the Intangible Heritage Documentation Project in cooperation with the Directorates of Culture. This is a key initiative in which these departments work together with independent writers and intellectuals, researchers, interested individuals and civil associations on the preservation of local heritage. They form committees to collect and document various aspects of intangible heritage in all the governorates.

Omayyad castle: main entrance and walls with mynaret

Omayyad castle ruins (Photo by: Ai@ce, Creative Commons)

Programmes of the international Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) (1) span 6 governates (Aleppo, Damascus, Hama, Lattakia, Sweida and Tartus) serving both rural and urban populations. Priority areas include protecting cultural heritage, developing sustainable tourism and strengthening civil society organizations. The Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) assists in the restoration of the Citadels of Salah ad-Din, Masyaf, and Aleppo. Syria is also involved in the registration of cities and villages in the North of the country on the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites. The Damascus Friends Association, a civil society organization, seeks to preserve the Damascene heritage.

World Heritage sites Google map

World Heritage sites in Syria (Google Earth)

UNESCO, World Heritage Centre lists the following 6 world heritage sites in Syria:

The website also lists 12 properties submitted on the Tentative List. Ross (2000) wrote an interesting guide on Monuments in Syria, which can also be accessed on his website.


Burns, Ross (2009), The Monuments of Syria. I. B. Tauris; 3rd edition (for the website, click here)


  1. AKDN is a group of development agencies with mandates that include a variety of programmes, from architecture to the revitalization of historic cities, from environment to education and the promotion of private-sector enterprises. See also the subsection “Archaeology and built heritage”.


[♥] Almost all the text is from: Syria by Reem Al Khatib and Rana Yazaji published in ‘Cultural Policies in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Syria and Tunisia. An introduction’, Cultural Resource/European Cultural Foundation, Bookmanstudies, 2010, 190-191.