14 Photos of Syria before the war

Five years of war have destroyed what was once one of the most beautiful tourist destinations in the world

Sometimes Syria feels very far away.

Sure, when Marie Claire travelled with one Syrian woman from Greece to Germany, we heard that her life used to involve eating out in restaurants, listening to music and hanging out with friends, and sure, we know that now she’s in Denmark, she misses life in Aleppo so much, she’s not sure if she would have travelled to Europe in the first place. Still, it’s hard to picture Syria as anything other than a warzone, when those are the only images we see on TV.

But until 2011, Syria was one of the most popular holiday destinations in the Middle East – drawing in travellers from across Europe with its seaside resorts, snowy mountains and acres of forest.

Don’t believe us? Check out these photos of Syria before the war…

Limestone cliffs and mediterranean coast near Burj Islam, Lattakia

Harbour view of the Crusader city of Tartus:

Cemetery on the mountain of Jebel Arruda, by the Assad lake, Euphrates

Tartus, again:

Water wheel on the Orontes River, Hama:

The citadel in Aleppo:

The ancient roman theatre in Bosra:

Assad lake, Euphrates:

Wooden waterwheels on the Orontes river, and the Al-Nuri Mosque dating back to 1172:

Traditional beehive houses in Sarouj village, Hama:

Krak des Chevaliers, a medieval castle built in the 1100s:

Historic castle of Qalaat Jabar overlooking Assad Lake, Euphrates:

The Basilica of St Simeon, near Aleppo:

Souq al-Hamidiyya, Old City, Damascus:

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