Arabic Language Blog

The Old Damascene House البيت الدمشقي القديم Posted by on Sep 29, 2021 in Arabic Language, Culture, Damascus, Vocabulary

In this post, I thought we’d look into the old Damascene house البيت الدمشقي القديم which is famous for its unique architecture الهندسة المعمارية المميزة and style. Today, many have been converted into hotels and restaurants due to their beautiful surrounding atmosphere overlooking mountains الجبال and farms المزارع, but there are still old Damascus houses that are centuries old inhabited till this day. 

ما الذي يجعل هذه البيوت فريدة من نوعها؟

What makes these houses so unique?

One of the most prominent features of these houses is the central open courtyard فناء مركزي مفتوح with a water fountain نافورة ماء in the center along with trees and plants surrounding the space where the family and guests can sit and enjoy the atmosphere of old Shami lifestyle الحياة الشامي القديم. Some old houses have paintings اللوحات decorating the walls. You can also find Islamic calligraphy الخط الإسلامي decorating the ceilings. 

Image provided by Yasmine K.

Here is a clip showing three Syrians talking about preserving these old Damascus houses and what these historical houses mean to them. In this part one post we’ll listen to the first half of the clip. You’ll hear Modern Standard Arabic as well as Syrian Levantine dialect. 

I have provided the transcription to help you follow along as you listen to the clip as well as a translation below. 

🎇المنازل الدمشقية التقليدية طابع مميز وتراث عريق🎇


المراسلة: للمنازل الدمشقية التقليدية رونقها الخاص لكن بعضها تعرض للإهمال وبعضها الآخر تضرر جراء النزاع في سوريا وعليه قررت شابة سورية أن توثق هندسة هذه المنازل وهويتها عبر التصوير 

المراسل: على مدار عدة سنوات، قامت هذه الشابة السورية بتصوير المنازل الدمشقية التقليدية لتوثيق هندستها وهويتها بعد ما طال الإهمال والاستثمار عدد منها ولحقت أضرار جسيمة بعدد آخر خلال سنوات الحرب

المتحدثة الأولى: وقت ما شفت حلب عم تدمر، حسيت انو هدا الشي ممكن كمان يصير بدمشق. وحسيت في تهديد على هوية دمشق. بالالفين وخمستعش… ستعش، كانت الحرب هي التهديد الحقيقي. هلق بعد ما خلصت الحرب، دمشق القديم مهددة إنها تخسر طابعها الحقيقي الي هو البيوت العربي، الناس، العوائل. فهدا التبديل هو  ؟”Humans of Damascus” الي مخليني استمر والي خلاني استمر بهدا المشروع


ما رأيك في البيوت الدمشقية التقليدية؟ 

كيف أثر الحرب على هذه البيوت القديمة؟

  ؟Humans of Damascus لماذا قررت هذه المرأة السورية القيام بمشروع

What do you think of the traditional Damascene houses 

How did the war affect these old houses?

Why did this Syrian woman decide to do the “Humans of Damascus” project?


Reporter: The traditional Damascene houses have their own splendor, but some of them were neglected and others were damaged by the conflict in Syria. Therefore, a young Syrian woman decided to document the architecture and identity of these houses through photography.

Reporter: Over the course of several years, this young Syrian woman has photographed traditional Damascene houses to document their architecture and identity, after a number of them had been affected by long neglect and investment, and severe damage done to a number of others during the years of war.

First speaker: When I saw Aleppo falling apart, I felt that this could also happen to Damascus, and I felt this to be a threat to the identity of Damascus. In two thousand and fifteen… sixteen,  the war was the real threat. Now that the war has ended, old Damascus is threatened to lose its true character, which are Arab homes, people, and families. So, this switch is what kept me going to continue with this project, “Humans of Damascus”.

I hope you found this topic on historical Damascene houses interesting and that the listening comprehension practice was a good exercise.

Till next week, happy Arabic learning! 😊 

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About the Author: yasmine

MarHaba! I am half Jordanian of Circassian descent and half American. I have a Master's in Second Language Teaching and I teach Arabic as a foreign language here in the US, both MSA and Levantine Arabic. I hope to help you become more familiar and interested in the Arabic language and culture.


  1. Simone:

    Thank you, Yasmine, for this post on such a fascinating subject. Just a quick question on this phrase: الحياة الشامي القديم

    Since, life is a feminine gender word in Arabic, I wonder if the phrase should not be as follows: الحياة الشامية القديمة

    Thank you!