“Beyond the mountains of Lebanon in Syria is Damascus – said to be the oldest city in the world.”
This travelogue documentary, The Screen Traveler, by filmmaker Andre De La Varre and narrated by Paul Devlin is filled with orientalists tropes and stereotypes, however the footage itself is wonderful and provides a glimpse into daily life in both 1938 Syria and Palestine - before the division of Palestine and modern state borders.
The travelogue opens up with a bustling scene on the edge of Marjeh square ((ساحة المرجة) with a view of the Old Umayyad Hotel (now the Omar Al-Khayam Hotel (فندق عمر الخيام)) on Al-Joumhouria Street (شارع الجمهورية) along side the Barada River (نهر بردى). The narrator then takes us on a journey to the entrance to the Umayyad Mosque (الجامع الأموي), Souq Al-Hamidiyah (سُوق ٱلْحَمِيدِيَّة), some street scenes, a bakery and Irgeelah at a coffee shop (maybe Al-Nawfara?).
Take a closer look at Marjeh Square.
The story shifts from old Damascus at the 4:18 mark to Jerusalem, Palestine (at the time under the British Palestine Mandate) where the narrator explores the old city starting from the Jaffa gate, aka Hebron Gate (باب الخليل), Damascus Gate (aka Gate of the Column | باب العامود), Haram al-sharif (الحرم الشريف), Al-Aqsa (المسجد الأقصى), Dome of the Rock (قبة الصخرة), the Western/ Wailing wall (Buraq Wall | حَائِط ٱلْبُرَاق), Mount of Olives (جبل الزيتون, Al-Tur الطور), Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Church of the Resurrection | كنيسة القيامة) – a grand tour of biblical proportions thats catapults viewers into historic Palestine before the Nakba.
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