Daraa (درعا) is the capital and largest city of a province of the same name. Located in the far south of Syria, it is an important border town and economic hub for the region. While most travelers simply transit through here on their way to somewhere else – mostly Damascus (دمشق), Bosra (بصری) or Jordan – the city does offer some interesting historic sites to explore. It also serves as a transportation hub for surrounding towns and villages, some of which – such as Tel Shahab (تل شهاب) – are of historic interest.
As the modern city of Daraa (درعا) has sprawled to the north, the old city has become more of a suburb. It is located on a hilltop in the south of the city, and consists of numerous remains from the Roman period, as well as one of the older mosques in the country. Of the Roman remains, the best preserved is a small theatre. While most of the seating has been destroyed, the stage and tunnel entrances are well-preserved. Around the small archaeological park which contains the theatre are various other remains, though most of them are difficult to distinguish.
The al-Omari Mosque, across the street from the archaeological park, is arguably more impressive. Built from salvaged Roman masonry, it has impressive columns and capitals throughout. It has a large open courtyard and single minaret in the northwest corner. The mosque is generally kept open even outside of prayer times. Also worth investigating are some historic railroad cars and locomotives stationed in the railway yard near the modern city center. These date from the time of the Hijaz Railway, which transported hajj pilgrims from to Medina in Saudi Arabia.
Getting There: Daraa (درعا) is a regional hub and is very well-served by public transportation. Buses between Damascus (دمشق) and Daraa (درعا) are frequent from the early morning into the evening. There are two separate bus stations which serve Daraa (درعا) 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.
Alternatively, microbuses and large, old buses travel to Daraa (درعا) 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°36’44.93″N / 36°06’02.84″E
Transliteration Variants: Deraa, Dara, Dera
Rating: (5.5 / 10)