Welcome to Raqqa, a city in Syria located on the left bank of the Euphrates River. Despite its tumultuous history, Raqqa is a city with a rich cultural heritage and a vibrant community. From its Hellenistic and Byzantine roots to its role as the capital of the Islamic State, Raqqa has seen it all. Today, visitors can explore the city’s ancient ruins, sample its delicious cuisine, and experience the warmth and hospitality of its people. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or simply looking for a unique travel experience, Raqqa has something for everyone.

Raqqa’s history dates back to the Hellenistic period, when it was founded as the city of Nikephorion by Seleucid King Seleucus I Nicator. It was later renamed Kallinikos by Seleucus II Callinicus and played an important role in the Byzantine Empire’s relations with Sassanid Persia. The city fell to the Muslim conqueror Iyad ibn Ghanm in 639 or 640 and has been known by the Arabic name al-Raqqah ever since.

During the Syrian Civil War, Raqqa was captured by the Syrian opposition and then by the Islamic State, which made the city its capital in 2014. As a result, the city was hit by airstrikes from the Syrian government, Russia, the United States, and several other countries. Most non-Sunni religious structures in the city were destroyed by ISIS, most notably the Shia Uwais al-Qarni Mosque, while others were converted into Sunni mosques. On 17 October 2017, following a lengthy battle that saw massive destruction to the city, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF, a coalition fighting the government) declared the liberation of Raqqa from the Islamic State to be complete.

Today, visitors to Raqqa can explore the city’s ancient ruins, including the remains of the Hellenistic and Byzantine city and bishopric Callinicum, which was the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate between 796 and 809 under the reign of Harun al-Rashid. The city also boasts a thriving food scene, with delicious local cuisine that reflects its diverse cultural heritage. Visitors can sample traditional dishes like kibbeh, a meat and bulgur wheat dish, and muhammara, a spicy red pepper and walnut dip.

But perhaps the most compelling reason to visit Raqqa is its people. Despite the challenges they have faced, the residents of Raqqa are known for their warmth and hospitality. Visitors can experience this firsthand by staying in one of the city’s many guesthouses or by simply striking up a conversation with a local. Whether you’re exploring the city’s ancient ruins, sampling its delicious cuisine, or simply soaking up the atmosphere, Raqqa is a destination that is sure to leave a lasting impression.

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