"Hama - Epiphania - Hamath" Top 5 Page for this destination Hamah by MM212

Hamah Travel Guide: 131 reviews and 421 photos

Hama is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Syria. Graced by the Orontes river, beautiful medieval architecture, and less congestion than the largest cities, Hama certainly lives up to that title. The city is most famous for its numerous ancient water wheels, known as the Noriahs, whose sound and lazy motion add to the city's charms. Hama traces its roots back about 4000 years when it was the capital of a small kingdom called Hamath. Under the Greeks and later the Romans, the city was renamed Epiphania and gained importance. The Arabs conquered it peacefully along with the rest of Syria and restored its slightly modified semitic name, Hama. Although it remained of some importance during its history, it was always overshadowed by Aleppo to the north and Damascus to the south. Its more recent history is a little darker as its centre was the site of a battle between the government forces and a religious group opposed to the government. A large section of the old city, with its palaces and mosques, was erased in the 1982 bombings, which also took the lives of tens of thousands (note that this is a sensitive topic not to be discussed with the locals).

What little remains of the old city has been undergoing major restoration work in the past year or two. Encouragingly old buildings are being turned into galleries or restaurants, and some of the Noriahs are also getting a facelift, rather than being left to decay.

The location of Hama makes it an ideal stopping point for discovering western Syria, which is rich in archeological sites and medieval castles. Hama was a quick stopping point during my two trips to Syria in December 2006 and March 2008. With each brief visit, I was able to discover a bit more of the city. I've outlined the few observations I've made during my short visits, but there is much more to Hama than in my tips. I hope to return to Hama to further discover its monuments and noriahs.

Syria itinerary in Dec 2006:

Damascus - Maaloula - Krak des Chevaliers - Homs - Palmyra/Tadmur - Hama - Apamea - Aleppo - Serjilla - Damascus

Syria & Lebanon itinerary in Mar 2008:

Damascus - Hama - Apamea - Aleppo - Saint Simeon - Mushabbak Church - Hama - Homs - Damascus - Beqaa Valley & Beirut

  • Last visit to Hamah: Mar 2008
  • Intro Updated Jan 31, 2010
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Reviews (24)

Comments (7)

  • gilabrand's Profile Photo
    Mar 6, 2011 at 8:24 AM

    Looks like a Jewish star to me...

  • PierreZA's Profile Photo
    Oct 30, 2009 at 11:59 AM

    Another great page, I am planning once again :-)

  • diageva's Profile Photo
    Jul 4, 2009 at 2:08 AM

    Thanks, good information

  • mikelisaanna's Profile Photo
    Oct 3, 2008 at 9:27 AM

    Great page about a city that we previously knew almost nothing about. It's too bad that a lot of it got destroyed in the 80's - it sounds like it would have been a facinating place to visit.

  • Tijavi's Profile Photo
    Apr 27, 2008 at 7:57 AM

    Hama certainly looks worth a visit. The noriahs look amazing and the restaurants sound delicious. Thanks for sharing, Momo.

  • DanielF's Profile Photo
    Dec 20, 2007 at 5:14 AM

    Great Syria pages. Your tips will be very helpful when we are there in Christmas.

  • TheWanderingCamel's Profile Photo
    Nov 5, 2007 at 5:20 PM

    Hama's a great little city, and a good place to use as a base for the surrounding area. Good to see a review of the new Cham Palace as we plan to stay there on our next visit. leyle

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