Syria has rich cultural traditions ever since
ancient times, but during the civil war since 2011, many
older buildings have been severely damaged. Under the
Baath Party's rule, most cultural expressions have been
hampered by censorship, for example, the Kurds' popular
traditions were banned until 2011. Many significant
writers, artists and artists have lived in exile, while
others have supported the government or adapted to the
Traditional Arabic-Islamic culture, with important
contributions in poetry and other literature as well as
music, still plays an important role in society. During
the 20th century, both music and literature were
influenced by Western culture. After the turn of the
millennium, the opening of Syria's economy and the
introduction of modern media led to growing cultural
influence from the US and the West, but also from the
Persian Gulf's money-rich and conservative monarchies.
Latest population statistics of Syria, including religious profiles and major languages spoken as well as population growth rates in next three decades.
Among the foremost Syrian writers are Halim Barakat
(born 1933) who has portrayed, in novel form, the
Israel-Palestine conflict, and Hanna Mina (1924–2018)
who in realistic form has written about the seamen's
life, among other things. Zakaria Tamir (born 1931) is
known for his allegorical short stories and as a
children's book author. A contemporary author is Salim
Barakat (born 1951) who is Kurdish but writes both prose
and poetry in Arabic. Barakat has been living in Sweden
since 1999 and several of his books have been translated
The Syrian poet Adonis (whose real name is Ali Ahmad
Said, born 1930) lives in France and has become
internationally known as a permanent candidate for the
Nobel Prize. He has been translated into Swedish. So
does the poet and freethinker Muhammad al-Maghut
(1934–2006), whose politically bitter but at the same
time life-affirming poetry won devoted readers.
Damascus-born poet Nizar Qabbani (1923-1988) has
remained very popular in Syria and also in the rest of
the Arab world.
Classical Arabic music has a strong position in
cities such as Damascus and Aleppo. Oud player Farid al-Atrash
(1910–1974), born in a Drusian family in southern Syria
but emigrated to Egypt as a child, is one of the most
famous musicians in the Arab world. His sister Asmahan
(born Asma al-Atrash, 1912-1944) also became known as a
singer and actress. Singer Sabah Fakhri (born 1933) is
considered to have popularized traditional genres. In
modern times, Syrian pop stars such as George Wassouf
(born 1961) and Asala Nasri (born 1969) have made great
success in the Middle East. By contrast, Omar Suleyman
(born 1966) and his mix of old-fashioned Bedouin songs
with electronic rhythms have mostly won listeners in the
Syrian films and TV series began to develop rapidly
in the 1990s and gained a good reputation in the Arab
world. During the fasting month of Ramadan, families all
over the Middle East tend to sit in front of the TV and
Syrian "Ramadan soap" was very popular during the 1990s.
Actor Ghassan Masud (born 1958) has primarily starred in
Syrian and Arab productions, but he has also appeared in
American feature films. The Inbreak War of 2011 has
damaged the film industry, but also made an impression
in the production: The documentary filmmaker Waad al-Kateab
has been awarded several international awards for his
portrayal of what it was like to live in the city of
Aleppo under siege. Among other things, she has received
an Emmy award for the film.
However, the traces of the civil war are most visible
in architecture. Several of the building complexes,
ruins and urban areas in Syria that the UN agency
classified as part of the World Heritage Site have been
damaged, destroyed or plundered since 2011. The large
Umayyad mosque in Damascus, considered one of Islam's
main monuments, has been damaged. The parish life at the
mosque is known for the call to prayer can be performed
by a whole group of reciters.
In 2019, Unesco estimated that 60 percent of the old
city center in Aleppo had been damaged during the war.
Among the war-torn memorials are the citadel and
markets. Limited reconstruction work is underway, partly
as a result of an agreement between the Syrian
authorities and the Aga Khan Foundation, an aid
organization operating in Asia and Africa.
The Krac des Chevaliers castle south of Homs, which
is from the Crusader era, has been bombed.
After taking the Roman caravan city of Palmyra (Tadmur),
dating back to Roman times, in May 2015, the Islamic
State blasted the nearly 2,000-year-old Baalshamin
Temple and other important buildings that were on
UNESCO's World Heritage List.
In Bosra in the south, which was the capital of the
Roman province of Arabia, among other things, a Roman
theater was damaged by the war. Valuable archaeological
sites such as the Roman ruins of Apamea, near Hama, and
Dura-Europos near Dayr al-Zawr, have been excavated by
On the Mediterranean coast there are ruins from the
ancient cities of Marath and Ugarit.