Syria is configured, within the Middle Eastern panorama, as a developed and modern state, where however the tradition and the artistic and architectural heritage are preserved and integrated into the contemporary dimension. Inhabited or conquered over the centuries by Phoenicians, Mesopotamian, Roman, Arab, Mongol and Ottoman civilizations, the country today retains important traces of a troubled but rich past. The most precious jewels have been included by UNESCO among the World Heritage Sites: the old city of Damascus (1979); the old town of Bostra (1980); Palmira (1980); the old city of Aleppo (1986); Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Ṣalāḥ Ad-Dīn (2006). Mosques, souks, palaces, castles and ruins form the backdrop against which the daily life of Syrians unfolds. The museums, the home of tradition par excellence, and the most important cultural institutions in Syria should not be forgotten; among the first, the National Museum of Damascus; among others, the Dar Al-Assad for Arts & Culture center, the Arabic Language Academy and the High Institute of Music, both in the capital. Even if a strict interpretation of religion still strongly binds some customs (many women observe the obligation of the veil and in some public places they are not allowed), there are quite a few trends of clear Western derivation that have now become common: from clothing, to music, to urban architecture which, thanks to its design and technology, fits fully into the contemporary era. National festivals and celebrations are privileged occasions of union between past and present. Among the first are the Silk Road Festival, dedicated to crafts, art, theater and music. Among the feasts are to be mentioned the religious ones, of the Islamic prescription, and, among the civilians, (April 17).
According to itypeauto, Syriac literature developed parallel to Christianity and from the century. III to XIII was one of the richest among the Eastern Christian. It begins with the translation of the Bible and affirms itself with the work of Aphraates (4th century) and Efrem Siro (ca. 306-373). New impulse occurred in the sec. V and VI as a consequence of the religious contrasts between Nestorians, Monophysites and Orthodox. Bābay the Great was among the first (no. 540); Jacopo di Sarūgh (451-521) and John of Ephesus (506-585) stood out among the Monophysites. In the meantime, the Syriac cultural world was enriching itself with new translations that spread Greek culture. With the Arab invasion (636) the Syriac language declined until it remained limited to some Nestorian groups and to the Christian liturgy. With Abdhiso, Metropolitan of Nisibi (14th century), Syriac literature concluded its cycle; almost five centuries passed before Arabic-language literature emerged which had first undergone a long period of “corruption”, then of purification with the movement which had its center in Aleppo and its main representative in the bishop Germanus Farḥāt (d. 1732). It was contact with the Egyptians, in the brief parenthesis of their dominion which between 1832 and 1840 replaced the Ottoman one, to determine a cultural ferment, immediately interrupted by the Ottoman return. This was the cause of the flight to Egypt of many intellectuals, not only Syrians, so as to make it the leading country of the new Arabic literature, the very symbol of the idea of the affirmation of Arabism. The Syrian Šakib Arslān (1869-1946), journalist, man of action, poet and storyteller, essayist and translator, was the greatest advocate and he was echoed by Nizār Qabbanī (1923-1998), one of the greatest contemporary Arab poets, who while professing his faith in the concept of art for art, he was inspired in his verses by the social reality of the country, while freed from contingent reality and adhering to the eternal themes of man, Adonis, pseudonym of the poet ʽAlī Aḥmad Saʽīd Isbir (b. 1930). But also in Syria, as in other Arab countries, over time, fiction has assumed an increasingly important role in contemporary literary production. Pioneers of the short story are ʽAbd as-Salām al-ʽUǧailī (1918-2006) and Zakariyyā Tāmir (b. 1931), who have contributed to making Syrian fiction known in the West. The author of novels, however, is Ḥanna Mina who can be considered one of the greatest contemporary Arab writers. His novels ash-Shirā wa al-ʽāṣifa (The Sail and the Tempest) and al-Yāṭir (The anchor), mostly set in coastal Syria, earned him the nickname “Conrad of Arabic literature”. Among the writers we must remember Colette Khūrī (b. 1937) who made a name for herself in the 1960s for a vaguely feminist novel. The most widely read and most successful Syrian literary woman not only in Syria but throughout the Arab world is undoubtedly Ghāda as-Sammāʽn (b.1938), whose writings describe a certain Arab bourgeoisie filled with empty and false values, violently contested by the Writer. His novels Kawābīs Beirūt (Nightmares of Beirut), Beirūt 75, they also showed for the first time the ferocity of the Lebanese civil war with a style so particular that it bordered on provocation. But we cannot speak of Syrian literature without mentioning one of the greatest playwrights of the entire Arab world, Saʽd Allāh Wannūs (1941-1997), who was responsible for the theorization of a theater based on historical-political reality. The focal point of his works is the denunciation of all totalitarianism, an evil from which many Arab countries have suffered and suffer. Among his most significant works are: Ḥaflat samar aǧl 5 ḥuzairān (Gala evening for 5 June), on the 1967 war against Israel, followed by al-Malik huwa al-malik (The king is the king) and al-Ightiṣāb (Rape), on the Palestinian question. Other notable authors include Rafik Schami (b. 1946), born in Damascus and forced into exile in 1971, who writes in German. His best known novel is The Dark Side of Love (2004); also Haidar Haidar (b. 1936), is one of the most widely read writers of the twentieth century. In his works he has often described the Arab world highlighting its most controversial sides in terms of freedom and democracy.