According to the Spanish Moslem Ibn Jubayr, who had already visited Cairo and Bagdad, Damascus was, in spite of its secondary status in the Caliphate, the most populous city in the world. Behind the city walls the streets were narrow and dark, lined with three-storey houses of mud and reeds (fire was a constant danger), the bazaars noisy with metal workers and fragrant with spices, thronged with a great mixture of racial types. The many hot baths were an inheritance from Roman times. There was a large free hospital, twenty colleges for students of law and religion, convents where Sufis (the mystics of Islam) used music and dance to arouse ecstacy. The Orthodox Christian church, St. Mary's, was brilliant with mosaics, and worshippers there were freely allowed to follow their religion. The rich Jewish community of some 3000, many of them refugees from the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, ran their own university. Two race tracks lined with poplar trees were "like rolls of green brocade."
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