al-Suweida (السويداء) is the capital and largest city in the province of the same name, and therefore an administrative center and major transportation hub. If you’re visiting Salkhad (صلخد), Qanawat (قنوات), Sia (سيع), Atil (عتيل), Salim (سليم) or al-Qaraya (القريا), you’re likely to pass through here. al-Suweida (السويداء) is the only major city in Syria that is predominantly Druze.
Although al-Suweida (السويداء) was a major settlement through Roman times, archaeological remains are sparse. The Ottomans destroyed what had been an extremely well-preserved temple here, pillaging the stones for a military barracks. Most other ruins faced a similar fate. However, a small Roman theatre has recently been uncovered and restored, ruins of a church can be seen, and part of the Roman temple still survives, resembling an arch, stranded in the middle of a traffic roundabout. These ruins are all to the south of the modern city center.
Perhaps more interesting than these remains are those at the museum (متحف), which has a nice collection of statues and mosaics. The museum is at the start of the road to Qanawat (قنوات), thus making it a convenient stop. There is a modest entrance fee and the museum is closed Tuesdays.
You’re far more likely to find a decent place to eat in al-Suweida (السويداء) than in any nearby town, something to consider if you’re planning day-trips in the region. Most explore the area in day-trips from Damascus (دمشق), but there are a few accommodation options in al-Suweida (السويداء), if you prefer to stay here.
Getting There: Buses and microbuses between Damascus (دمشق) and al-Suweida (السويداء) are frequent from the early morning into the evening. There are two separate bus stations which serve al-Suweida (السويداء) from Damascus (دمشق). Most travelers use the large, modern buses which depart from the bus station in Baramkeh (برامكة), near Damascus University (جامعة دمشق) and just northwest of al-Jahad Square (ساحة الجهاد). These buses leave on fixed schedules, usually on the half-hour, and take 1.5 hours. They generally also make a stop in the Damascus (دمشق) suburb of Jaramana (جرمانا).
Alternatively, microbuses and large, old buses travel directly to al-Suweida (السويداء) from the bus station just southeast of Bab Musalla Square (ساحة باب مصللى), southwest of the old city. These depart only when full, but tend to be very frequent. The microbuses take about 1.5 hours, while the larger buses charge less and often take a bit more time.
Coordinates: 32°42’29.20″N / 36°33’55.68″E
Transliteration Variants: al-Sweida, al-Suwayda, al-Swayda
Rating: (5 / 10)