Damascus is first mentioned in the Bible at the time of Abraham (Gen. 14:15; 15:2-3). As the capital of Syria, the city had much contact with the kingdoms of Israel and Judah.
All of the New Testament references to Damascus are related to the conversion of Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9; 22; 26; 2 Cor. 11:32; Gal. 1:17). Saul had participated in the stoning of Stephen and was active in the persecution of the disciples of Christ in Jerusalem. He asked the high priest for authority to go to Damascus and seek out men and women who belonged to the Way and bring them bound to Jerusalem.
The Lord appeared to Saul as he approached Damascus and told him to go into the city where he would be told what he must do (Acts 9:6). Saul stayed at a house on the street called Straight. Ananias came to him and told him to arise and be baptized so that his sins might be washed away (Acts 22:16; 9:18). Saul stayed with the disciples for several days and immediately began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues as the Son of God (9:20).
The photo below is one I made on Straight Street in 2002. This is not the main shopping street in the old city, but is historically significant.
The street called Straight (Acts 9:11), the ancient Via Recta of the Roman city, now lies about 20 feet below the present street which runs the length of the old city, east to west. At the east end of the street a Roman gate has been elevated to the present level and partially restored.
A small monumental arch, pictured below, can be seen near the middle of the Via Recta.
Note: This post is repeated, with editing, from Sept. 26, 2008 where it was entitled “Saul (Paul) in Damascus.” Another post on Damascus and Paul may be read here.