Syria and Baalbek in Lebanon Study Tour

25 May - 3 June 2012
This study tour has been postponed until further notice
Nigel McGilchrist
James McDonaugh
£2575.00 per person sharing a twin room
£2975.00 per single (twin room for single occupancy)

This will be an odyssey in one of the most ravishing countries of the Middle East. Highlights will include the magnificent crusader castle Krak des Chevaliers, the hauntingly beautiful Cities of the Dead and several of the best preserved Roman cities in the world, including Palmyra. You will travel through desert and mountains and will visit several sites off the tourist trail. You will eat in wonderful restaurants and stay in hotels in historic settings. There will be time for shopping in the souks in Damascus and Aleppo. You will also visit Lebanon to see the majestic Baalbek Roman temple, one of the wonders of the ancient world.

Krak des Chevaliers, Damascus, Syria

Your Lecturer

Nigel McGilchrist attended Oxford University, where he won a scholarship, prizes and medals in English and Art History. He has lived and worked in Italy, Greece and Turkey for 30 years. He worked for the Italian Government’s Ministero dei Beni Culturali as a consultant in fresco conservation, when the Vatican embarked on its controversial cleaning of the Sistine Chapel. He worked with Federico Zeri, J. Paul Getty’s closest art advisor and Italy’s most knowledgeable living art historian in the 1980s. He was Director of the Anglo-Italian Institute in Rome for 6 years, taught at the University of Rome, the University of Massachusetts, and was for 7 years the Dean of European Studies for Rhodes College & the University of the South at Sewanee, Tennessee. He still lectures widely in art and archaeology. He is on the Board of Editors of the Blue Guides and has contributed to new editions on Italy. Over the last 7 years he has walked all 60 inhabited Aegean Greek Islands to prepare a new survey-guide of the art, archaeology, history and ecology of the area. It is available as a series of 20 small volumes McGilchrist’s Greek Islands, while an abridged, single-volume appears as the Blue Guide to Greece: the Aegean Islands. He is a Syrian expert and has travelled widely in the region.

Further Information

This visit is arranged through Art Tours who are responsible for all the travel arrangements. With regard to the price, please refer to paragraph 3 of Art Tours Booking Conditions. With regard to financial protection, all passengers are fully insured and should refer to paragraph 5 of Art Tours Booking Conditions. In relation to any flights, please refer to paragraph 5 of Art Tours Booking Conditions and note that Art Tours work with Lupus Travel Ltd (ATOL no. 2551 and ABTA nos E35558 and V4886) to ensure that all participants receive proper financial protection for flights booked as part of a tour. This tour is subject to change should local conditions or unexpected restrictions occur. Hotels are also subject to change.

Your Hotels

Talisman 1, Al Ameen Street 4* view website »

Located on a quiet street in the Jewish Quarter, the 17 rooms are individually decorated in traditional Damascene style with all mod-cons (TV, air conditioning etc), built around lovely courtyards. The main one has a 1.8m pool which can be used for swimming. Opened 2006.

Talisman 2, Bab Al Salam view website »

The 2nd Talisman was opened last year after extensive restoration to a 300 year old house. It is decorated in traditional style with its 12 rooms overlooking one of its 3 courtyards. Also situated in the Old Quarter near the Bab Al Salam (Peace Gate).

Zenobia Cham Palace Hotel, Palmyra 3* view website »

The hotel location could not be better as it is within walking distance of the archeological site. Rooms are small with en suite shower only. Very good buffet restaurant. Air conditioning, safes.

Beit Salahieh Hotel, 4* Aleppo view website »

A lovely boutique hotel that opened last year. Beautifully decorated in typical old Syrian style. Each room is decorated differently. Built around various courtyards with pools. Lovely terrace restaurant with views of the Citadel. Breakfast with Syrian food specialities. Air conditioning, safes and internet access in each room.

Apamee Cham Palace Hotel, Hama 5* view website »

The only good hotel in Hama. Modern and functional, we will endeavour to obtain rooms with views of the famous Water Wheels.

The price includes

  • Lecturing by Nigel McGilchrist
  • Services of tour manager
  • Services of local English speaking guides
  • Scheduled return flights London Heathrow/Damascus
  • All airport taxes and security charges in UK and Syria
  • All hotels (with breakfast)
  • 8 lunches and 8 dinners
  • Private use of deluxe coach throughout
  • All museum and site entrance costs
  • Porterage at hotels on arrival and departure
  • Gratuities to coach drivers and local guide

The price does not include

  • Taxis or other transport not specified
  • Personal travel insurance (please see Art Tours booking form)
  • Personal Expenses
  • Drinks

Book your place

Places will be limited so please book early. For further information, booking conditions and to reserve a place:

Mary Bromley
020 7266 7815
E Mail:

NB: No Israeli stamps in passports or sign of any visit there

Tour Schedule

Day 1 / Friday 25 May 2012

London / Damascus

Check in at Heathrow Airport
Arrive Damascus and transfer by private coach to Talisman2 Hotel, close to the Bab Al Salam Gate, Damascus
Minaret, Umayyad Mosque, Damscus, Syria

Day 2 / Saturday 26 May 2012


Full day of sightseeing in Damascus, to include visits to the Azem Palace, the Archaeological Museum and (if time permits to some of the restored houses such as Nizam) the Danish Institute, St Ananias' Church.

Lunch at Restaurant Al-Khawal in the old city

Further visits in Damascus to include the Ommayad Mosque and the tomb of Saladin from the exterior.

Dinner at a restaurant

Day 3 / Sunday 27 May 2012


Leave by coach (with luggage) for Dumayr. Visit the Temple of Zeus Hypsistos with its highly unusual architecture and dated to the 3rd C AD. This is astonishingly well preserved and an interesting stop en route to lunch.

Lunch at a restaurant

Continue to Palmyra to stay at the Zenobia Cham Hotel.

Dinner in the hotel

Day 4 / Monday 28 May 2012


Visit the site of Palmyra: this is one of the most beautiful classical cities in the world and is set on the edge of a desert oasis. Most ruins date from the 2nd and 3rdc AD, although it has been permanently inhabited since the 2nd millennium BC.

Lunch in the hotel and continue (by coach)

Visit the underground and tower tombs: these are one of the most magnificent sets of tombs in the Near East with the oldest going back to the 9th C BC. Visit several breath taking tombs that are not on view to the public.

Dinner in a Bedouin tent

Tetrapylon, Palmyra, Syria

Day 5 / Tuesday 29 May 2012


Leave by coach (with luggage) into the desert to Resafe, a shrine city built by Justinian for the Christian martyr St. Sergius. Visit the walled city, its churches and cisterns. One highlight will be the great Basilica of St. Sergius dated 559AD.

Picnic lunch on the site

Continue (by coach) to Aleppo to stay at the Beit Salahieh Hotel near the Citadel in the central Christian Quarter.

Dinner at a restaurant

Day 6 / Wednesday 30 May 2012


Leave (by coach) to visit the Old City.
Visit Citadel, mosques and souk: along with several cities in the Near East, including Damascus, Aleppo vies for being the longest continuously inhabited city in the world. The Old City is a UNESCO site. Its heyday was under the Umayyads who built the Great Mosque in the 8thc. The most dramatic sight in the city is The Citadel that towers above the city and is one of the Arab world's greatest military constructions.

Lunch at a local restaurant

Continue (by coach) outside Aleppo to the area of the Dead Cities. Visit one of Syria's most beautiful buildings, the Church of St Simon Stylites which is a fine example of the "Syrian style" of early Christian architecture. (if time permits the Mushabbak basilica church)

Dinner at restaurant "Sissi"

Day 7 / Thursday 31 May 2012


Leave by coach (with luggage) to visit some of The Dead Cities: largely unknown to the world and yet they are one of the wonders of early Christendom: there were over 100 large settlements and hundreds of smaller ones: visit the highlights including Serjilla, one of the most beautiful in a hauntingly desolate region with buildings in a superb state of preservation.

Picnic lunch

Visit the archaeological site: this is Syria's largest classical site and has one of the most breathtaking avenues of the ancient world, a road with over 400 columns.

Continue to Hama to stay for one night at the Apamea Cham Palace Hotel

Dinner in the hotel

The Cardo of Apamea, Syria

Day 8 / Friday 1 June 2012

Damascus (Krak des Chevaliers)

Leave (by coach) for Krak des Chevaliers: the most magnificent and best preserved crusader castle in the world. Its scale and majesty needs to be seen to be believed.

Lunch with a wonderful view of the castle

Drive to Damascus and visit Ma'Loula on the way: this is a village where Aramaic is still spoken. The journey will be broken to visit the ancient and charming Mar Sarkis Monastery.

Continue to Damascus to check-in at the Talisman Hotel on Al Ameen Street in the Jewish Quarter

Dinner at a restaurant

Day 9 / Saturday 2 June 2012

Lebanon (Baalbek)

Leave (by coach) for excursion to Lebanon.
Visit the Ummayad site of Anjar.
Visit Baalbek: this is one of the magnificent and well preserved temples of the Roman Empire, "The Temple of the Sun". The history of the region goes back 9000 years.

Lunch at a local restaurant

Return to Damascus

Dinner at a restaurant

DAY 10 / Sunday 3 June 2012

Damascus / London

Flight to London
Arrive London, Heathrow Airport