Fondazione Santagata is collaborating with the Musei Reali di Torino and the Syria Trust for Development on the cultural project “The Damascene Rose in Turin“.
The initiative is aimed at promoting the role and importance of Syria’s cultural heritage in the Mediterranean basin, in Italy and in Turin, through one of the country’s most iconic products, the Damascene Rose, which has been inscribed on the UNESCO Intangible Heritage List since 2019 through the practices and crafts related to the Rose in the village of Al-Mrah.
The decade-long conflict in Syria has left behind a trail of destruction, affecting the national society and economy and reducing major cities to ruins. In recent years, significant efforts have been made to implement reconstruction and recovery programmes at Syrian cultural sites, supported by national and international organisations, which have also brought positive changes in the lives of communities.
The project ‘The Damascus Rose in Turin’ aims to help support Syria’s recovery starting with the promotion of its priceless cultural heritage and in particular of one of its most famous products, appreciated worldwide for its fragrance, but also for its medicinal properties and its use as a spice. For centuries, Syrian farmers have handed down from generation to generation the knowledge and skills of cultivating and processing the famous flower, evoked in literary sources such as the Arabian Nights and praised by poets such as Shakespeare and Nizar Qabbani. In modern times, the cultivation of the Damascus Rose has its heart in the small town of Al-Mrah, on the eastern Qalamoun mountain range, in an area extending into the countryside north of Damascus.
The project is an example of cultural diplomacy that aims to facilitate dialogue and cooperation, through the sharing of experiences, where the role of cultural heritage is to promote understanding, confrontation and reconciliation between different communities. “The Rose of Damascus in Turin” intends to explore aspects of Syrian history, literature, music and archaeology, to discover how the path of the Rose, which leads from Damascus to the heart of Europe, is intertwined with that of so many other aspects of Syrian culture, recognising the power of heritage as a bridge for peace and healing of war-torn communities.
The project involves a series of activities:
- the planting in the Royal Gardens of 500 Damascus roses, generously donated by the Syria Trust for Development;
- a photographic exhibition dedicated to the production of the Damask rose and its uses, in the Grove of the Royal Palace
- the art installation Floral Tapestry of Craftmanship
- a week of side events from 4 to 7 July in the spaces of the Royal Museums of Turin, including a musical concert led by the conductor of the Syrian National Symphony Orchestra, the screening of an internationally award-winning documentary.
Through this project, the aim is to support the reconstruction and restoration of Syria’s cultural heritage, along with the rehabilitation of communities, addressing the urgent need for increased resources, technical expertise and renewed financial contributions from international bodies. Collaborative efforts involving non-governmental organisations and experts from around the world are essential to preserve and revive Syria’s cultural heritage.
Musei Reali di Torino
Syria Trust for Development
Under the patronage of the Italian National Commission for UNESCO