Casual observers may think the souqs are a Gordian knot of chaos and hustle. But, as a stroll through Damascus’s old city shows, there is method and organization here. There is no generic ‘souq’ – locals know exactly where to go for what they need. Nowhere is this more apparent than at the spice souq. The mountains of herbs and spices, grain and nuts are like a giant painter’s palette. And the smells! Earthy cumin mingles with sweet paprika, deep-roasted coffee and freshly-picked thyme hang in the air. This is an area of the markets that gives you a chance to just observe Damascus life. Grab some falafels or baklava, and just soak up the souq.