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Presenter : Julian Davison

Syria

In Metropolis Syria, presenter Julian Davidson explores the country’s ancient architectural legacy and discovers that in many ways it chronicles the history of civilisation itself and provides a unique and fascinating insight into some of the greatest architectural forms ever devised.

Syria played host to some of the greatest and oldest civilisations in the world and its beautiful and varied terrain is strewn with the evidence. Once immensely wealthy and considered a holyJuSt. Simeon, Syrialand to this day, it’s no surprise the region fell under the control of many of the world’s superpowers and each one left it’s mark.

Julian’s journey begins with a visit to the ancient Greco Roman city of Apamea. Established during the reign of Alexander the Great, Apamea provides some of the finest examples of classical urban design to be found anywhere in the world but it’s the combination of classical forms and Middle Eastern flamboyance that make it unique.

As the Roman Empire shifted eastward and adopted Christianity, Syria found itself, once again at the forefront of architectural innovation. Julian takes us to the north-east of the country to visit some of the earliest Christian townships in the world and the home of one of the first Basilicas ever built, the Church of St. Simeon.

Following his examination of this truly extraordinary architectural relic, Julian discovers that the Julian Davison, DamascusBaslica‘s design, a radical departure from previously established norms, was a fitting tribute to one of Christianity’s most extraordinary historical figures, St. Simeon himself. But it wasn’t long before Islam became the dominant force in the region and Syria was at the centre of its architectural development.

Julian travels to the Syrian capital, Damascus, to explore the birth and evolution of Islamic design exemplified by one of the oldest mosques in the world, the awe inspiring Umyaad Mosque. The Umyaad Mosque set the standard for mosque design that continues to this day and provides the key to understanding the fundamentals of Islamic architecture.

With the arrival of the Christian Crusades from Europe came a new building imperative. Julian visits the virtually impenetrable Crusader castle of Krak des Chevaliers. Standing like something out of a fairy tale, Krak des Chevaliers, in many ways marked the apogee of Crusader military design but as Julian is quick to point out, what appears at first glance to be the archetypal European castle was actually the result of sophisticated building techniques acquired in the Middle East.

Apamea, SyriaIn Aleppo, Syria’s second largest city and an important trading centre for the silk and spice routes between Asia and the West for centuries, Julian explores the imposing Citadel, Islam’s answer to the Crusader threat, and looks at the architecture of trade beautifully exemplified by the markets, palaces and khans built during Syria’s 400 year membership of the Ottoman Empire.

The fall of the Ottoman Empire at the beginning of the 20th century left Syria, perhaps for the first time in its history, alone to carve out it’s own identity. So far its recent architectural legacy may not be as impressive as its past but Syria is a country built on some of the greatest architectural traditions the world has ever known and it would be foolish to dismiss it just yet.

Credits

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host

JULIAN DAVISON

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with thanks to

The Syrian Arab Republic Ministry of Information/ Foreign Media Department

The Syrian Arab Republic Ministry of Culture/ Directorate of Antiquities and Museums

The Syrian Arab Republic Ministry of Religious Affairs

The Syrian Arab Republic Ministry of Tourism

The Syrian Society in Britain

The British Syrian Societty

Aga Khan Development Network AKDN-Syria

Omayad Swiss International Hotel – Damascus

Dedeman Hotel Group

The Baron Hotel – Aleppo

Warwick Ball

Jonathan Tubb

Jeremy Wilson

Carol Miller

Hussein Hinnawi

Jasmin Tours

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fixer

ITAB AZZAM

guides

GINA ZOBIAN

ELIAS AL HAJAR

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titles

LIQUID TV

graphics

SANYUKTA SHRESTHA

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camera

NIGEL KINNINGS

sound

CHRIS PICKHAVER

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Facilities

VOICE & MUSIC COMPANY

Dubbing Mixer

XXX

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Online Editor

LUKE THOMPSON

editor

RICHARD HOWARD

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title music by

XXX

music by

XXX

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production accountant

RIAZ HOODA

Post production co-ordinator

SIMON BUCK

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production manager

MEL MOORE

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producer

KRISTINE JUERGENEN

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director

STEPHEN LENNHOFF

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executive producer

IAN CROSS

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Produced by Pilot Film and TV Productions for:

Discovery Networks Asia

American Public Television

© Pilot Productions MMIX

Places Mentioned - Syria

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