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12 Things to know About the Desert in Syria

    The desert in Syria is an absolutely fascinating place, but why? Find out in this article!

    The Desert in Syria

    Do you know the desert in Syria stretches over a land area of 200,000 square miles? Also, it covers 55% of the entire land area of Syria and 85% of Jordan. The golden sand dunes and breathtaking landscapes of the desert reflect the timeless spirit of the region.

    Moreover, this is the Middle East’s most captivating desert inspiring visitors and researchers with its timeless tales of trade and ancient mysteries. As the sun sets, the sky in the Syrian desert transforms into a mesmerising canvas of vibrant hues, leaving tourists enchanted.

    If you’re thinking of visiting the desert in Syria but need information about fascinating facts associated with it, this write-up is exclusively for you. Here, we will cover 12 things to know about deserts in Syria before visiting.

    Without further ado, let’s get started.

    12 things to know about the desert in Syria

    Our list of the 12 fascinating things about the desert in Syria includes the following wonders: 

    1. Features Unique Golden Hamster 

    Golden hamsters are one of the most fascinating things you will learn about the desert in Syria. These solitary creatures prefer living alone, and the desert in Syria offers them the perfect destination.

    The golden hamster is a species of significant scientific interest, as it is used in numerous research studies, ranging from neuroscience to genetics. 

    With large expressive eyes and golden fur, the hamsters of the Syrian desert are famous all over the world. Moreover, these charming species have specialized cheek pouches to store food and take it to their burrows.

    Though the arid land has limited water resources and scorching temperatures, it is still a home of unique golden hamsters. The warm sandy playgrounds of this infertile land are ideal for hamster-sized sandcastle building.

    Plus, the desert offers plenty of spaces for underground hide-and-seek hamster tournaments and sunbathing, making it a paradise for these rodents. 

    2. Desert Castles Display Intricate Islamic Architecture 

    12 things to know about the desert in Syria

    The desert of Syria is not only an arid land of mesmerising landscapes but also a treasure trove of Islamic architectural wonders. The desert castles of this arid land are well known for their intricate frescoes, strategic location, and innovative cooling systems. 

    The dryland fortresses in the desert in Syria hold historical significance and reflect the creativity of their builders. They were constructed during the early Islamic period under various rules like Abbasids and Umayyads. 

    Initially, these sandstone palaces were intended as agricultural centers and palaces but were later used for other purposes, such as caravanserais. The layout of these structures emphasizes symmetry and proportion, reflecting the perfect definition of Islamic architecture.

    The pointed arch is used in windows, doorways, and arcades of these oasis palaces. This indicates a hallmark of Islamic architecture while giving stability and elegance to these castles.

    Also, intricate Islamic calligraphy adorns the desert castles’ walls, showcasing the verses of the Quran and other Islamic texts. Minarets and wide courtyards of the castles offer refreshing oases in the arid landscapes. 

    3. Has Association with the Lawrence of Arabia 

    The desert in Syria has a great association with the T.E. Lawrence (formally known as Lawrence of Arabia). The barren land served as a strategic location for guerrilla warfare during World War I. 

    During these attacks, the Lawrence of Arabia played a pivotal role in leading Arab tribes in the desert against Ottoman forces. He conducted daring military campaigns in the Syrian desert with the help of his Arab allies.

    Furthermore, Lawrence captured the key location and disturbed the supply lines, which played a critical role in defeating Ottoman forces. 

    T.E. Lawrence also documented his experience with the desert in Syria in his book Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

    4. It Is a Home to Bedouin Tribes

    12 things to know about the desert in Syria

    The desert in Syria has been home to Bedouin tribes for centuries. These tribes are famous for their Nomadic lifestyle and give a unique environment to this arid land. If you visit the Syrian desert, you will find numerous Bedouins moving across it in search of food, water, and grazing grounds for their livestock.

    Apart from their survival needs, the Bedouin tribes have a deep connection with the desert. This infertile land is deeply rooted in their identity and cultural heritage. Bedouins take pride in their ability to endure the desert’s challenges and navigate its vastness while reinforcing their identity.

    Moreover, they have honed their knowledge of weather patterns, seasonal changes, and the availability of resources to live in nature’s harmony. The nomadic lifestyle helps them build a sustainable relationship with the desert while preserving its fragile ecosystem. 

    5. One of the Top 10 Biggest Deserts in the World 

    The desert in Syria covers an entire area of about 200,000 square miles (500,000 square kilometers), making it one of the biggest deserts in the world. The crossroads of civilisation in the desert attract researchers and visitors alike.

    Moreover, the vast expanses of the infertile land offer a captivating backdrop for breathtaking sunsets and stargazing. 

    Being one of the biggest deserts in the world, the landscapes of the Syrian desert boast unique geological diversity. Here, you will find a captivating mix of ancient lava flows, golden sand dunes, unique rock formations, and salt flakes, creating a visually stunning environment.

    6. Palmyra- the Queen City of the Syrian Desert 

    Palmyra (also known as Tadmur) is an ancient city in the heart of the desert in Syria. The city holds great historical significance due to its impressive architectural wonders and strategic location.

    Due to its ideal location, Palmyra was a crucial crossroad for commerce and trade. In addition, the city served as a significant oasis along the ancient trade routes, including the Silk Road.

    Splendid architecture is one of the main reasons why Palmyra holds the title of the “queen city of the Syrian desert.” It boasts an exceptional blend of Persian and Roman influences, resulting in magnificent and breathtaking structures. 

    Also, the city is associated with the warrior queen: Zenobia. She was an awe-inspiring leader who expanded the territory of Palmyra. 

    7. Experiences Frequent Sandstorms

    Just like other biggest arid lands, the desert in Syria also experiences frequent sandstorms. These sandstorms in the Syrian desert occur when the wind picks up loose sand particles and carries them higher into the atmosphere. 

    Surprisingly, sandstorms have wind speeds of at least 40 kilometers (25 miles) per hour. It also reduces visibility sometimes to less than 3 meters, causing hazardous conditions for travellers.

    The sandstorms in this infertile land can last for several hours to a few days, depending on the strength and density of the prevailing winds. Moreover, the desert in Syria experiences frequent sandstorms during hot summers. 

    These sand blizzards play a critical role in reshaping the landscapes of the Syrian desert by shifting the sand dunes over time.

    8. Famous for Its Unique Wildlife

    12 things to know about the desert in Syria

    Though the desert in Syria features arid land, it hosts a wide variety of unique fauna. Camels are the lifeline of this desert, serving as a reliable source of milk and transportation. These creatures have a unique ability to store water in their humps, making them resilient to the arid climate of the desert.

    Furthermore, the barren land is home to elusive predators, such as Sand Cat and Arabian Leopards. Reptiles and arachnids, including scorpions and snacks, also inhabit the desert. These creatures play a vital role in the desert’s ecosystem, maintaining a balance among different organisms.

    As the sun sets, the Syrian desert offers an entirely different world. Gerbil and Fennec Fox become active in the desert, thriving under the moonlit sky and adapting to the cooler temperature.

    This barren land is also home to several endangered species, such as the Gordon’s Wildcat and the Arabian Oryx. You will also spot a diverse and fascinating population of insects in the desert. From resilient dung beetles to crimson-tip, these tiny creatures play a significant role in the desert’s pollination. 

    In addition to animal species, the desert in Syria hosts a wide variety of birds and plants. For example, birdwatchers can enjoy the annual spectacles of avian migration, like the Steppe Eagles and Houbara Birds here. 

    9. Shares Border with 4 Different Countries 

    The desert in Syria is one of the arid lands that share borders with four different countries. The southern border of the desert touches the northern regions of Jordan.

    Also, the desert runs along the eastern parts of Jordan, where it meets the northern edge of the Arabian Desert. It extends into Iraq to the east, covering a considerable portion of the country’s central and western regions.

    Lastly, the northern part of the Syrian desert touches the northwest region of Saudi Arabia, forming the southern edge of the Nefud Desert (one of the largest desert expanses in the Arabian Peninsula). 

    10. Receives Little Rain that Turns into Lakes

    The desert in Syria is a dry and arid land that receives minimal rainfall throughout the year. With an average rainfall of 125 mm per year, life in this desert is extremely difficult for both plants and animals.

    Though rain in the desert is rare, it features a miracle of water accumulation. The dry nature of the desert does not allow sandy grounds to absorb water easily. As a result, the low-lying areas form natural basins.

    As the water accumulates in these natural basins, they expand and create temporary puddles of water known as “ephemeral lakes.”

    11. Creates Optical Illusions in Extreme Temperatures

    12 things to know about the desert in Syria

    The desert in Syria is famous for its mesmerizing mirages (optical illusions). During the scorching temperatures and dry conditions, distant objects appear to be floating above the ground in the desert.

    Also, the vanishing horizon is one of the captivating mirages in the Syrian desert. As you look across the vast landscapes of the arid region, the horizon appears to be merging seamlessly with the sky, creating a surreal effect for visitors.

    In addition, the Fata Morgana is another famous optical illusion you can observe in the Syrian desert. This mirage often creates distorted and vivid images of objects resembling cities, islands, or castles.

    The Syrian desert also displays illusory water bodies like oases or lakes. These mirages look real from a distance but vanish as you get closer. These fake watery objects result from mirage effects playing tricks with your eyes. 

    Surprisingly, you will also spot illusionary anamorphic artwork in this infertile land. Numerous artists have created anamorphic artworks in the desert of Syria. They have used vast sandy canvas to create mind-bending mirages that come to life when viewed from a specific angle. 

    12. Features Mysterious Standing Stone Structures

    The ancient standing stone structures of the Syrian desert showcase the region’s rich historical heritage. Moreover, they display a distinctive architectural style characterized by majestically arranged stones without using any binding or mortar material.

    Some stony frameworks display remarkable geometric precision in the form of circles and labyrinthine designs. These standing rock formations give the desert in Syria a unique character; however, their exact purpose remains a mystery.

    Some theories say these iconic structures are religious or ceremonial sites, whereas researchers believe they are markers of astronomical events. 

    The mysterious standing stone structures of the Syrian desert have been designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

    Wrapping Up– The Desert in Syria

    To sum up, the desert in Syria offers a refreshing and peaceful retreat for those seeking solitude and a chance to connect with nature. Despite being barren, the Syrian desert will surprise you with a diverse range of animal and plant species.

    Furthermore, the arid land offers immense opportunities for thrilling activities, like dune bashing, camel trekking, and exploring hidden oases.

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