Important trading hubs
Commercial cities
During the 19th century, many Middle Eastern and European towns turned into crucial strategic hubs due to their location at the crossroads of trade routes connecting land and sea.
In the course of the 19th century, many inland towns and cities in the Middle East and Europe grew into major economic and industrial as well as political and intellectual hubs at the crossroads of trade routes connecting land and sea. Several expanded considerably due to a steady influx of economic migrants and traders. On the other hand, formerly prosperous centres could also decline because of wars, the detrimental impact of mass-produced goods on traditional local industries and crafts or the redirection of trade routes. Cities maintained rapidly expanding lines of communication with strategic ports and the surrounding countryside, both of which supplied essential food stuffs, raw materials and, increasingly foreign, consumer goods. While the international trade from Middle Eastern ports was often dominated by non-Muslims and foreigners, the trade to and throughout the interior – which continued to far outweigh the former in terms of volume – was largely overseen by Muslim merchants.
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Important trading hubs

Important ports
Commercial cities
Trading communities
Outline map of Damascus in 1918

Indicating urban growth to the fin de siecle

Map made in 2005

Museum of Islamic Art at the Pergamon Museum, State Museums, Berlin, Germany

In the later 19th century, Damascus was one of the Middle Eastern cities with increasing political and economic significance. A key hub for trans-desert and intra-regional trade, pilgrimage caravans and – later – the Hijaz railway, its urban fabric was steadily refashioned to reflect its status as a modern administrative centre of the late Ottoman empire.

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In this Exhibition
About the Exhibition
Trading routes
Important trading hubs
Financing trade