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City of Hama

Introduction
The Noria of Hama
Hama is situated 47 Km north of Homs and 140 km south of Aleppo. This beautiful city use the Orontes River as its cooling system and the Orontes valley for greenery.
(Hama Location Map)

Hama has many distinctive features, the two most prominent features is its citadel and its ancient Norias (waterwheels). The Norias have been scooping water from the Orontes (Aassi) River and pouring it into irrigation canals. The groaning sound of the Norias adds a certain mystique to this ancient city.  The sounds are quite relaxing and soothing to the mind. Hama is a very clean and conservative town where modern buildings meet the ancient past.

History
Hama or Hamah has city has a long history, having been settled as far back as the Bronze Age and Iron Age, Excavations on and near the citadel hill, which is now replaced by a park, reveal remains belonging as far back as the Neolithic period.

In the 2d millennium B.C., it was a center of the Hittites. As Hamath it is often mentioned in the Bible, where it is said to be the northern boundary of the Israelite tribes; It was also the capital of the Aramean kingdom. The Assyrians under Shalmaneser III captured the city in 720 BC. Later included in the Persian Empire, it was conquered by Alexander the Great and, after his death (323 B.C.), in 200 BC it was claimed by the Seleucid kings, who renamed it Epiphania, after Antiochus IV (Antiochus Epiphanes). The city later came under the control of Rome and of the Byzantine Empire. In A.D. 638 it was captured by the Arabs. Christian Crusaders held Hama briefly (1108), but in 1188 it was taken by Saladin, in whose family it remained until it passed to Egyptian Mamluk control in 1299. An early Mamluk governor of Hama was Abd al-Fida (reigned 131030), the historian and geographer. In the early 16th cent. the city came under the Ottoman Empire. Hama   flourished under the Ayyubids, and the Ottomans left their emblem in the form of a couple of Khans and a beautiful Azem Palace.  After World War I it was made part of the French Levant States League of Nations mandate, and in 1947 it became part of independent Syria.

Attractions and historical building
Points of interest in Hama include:
- The famous old waterwheels, some as much as 90 ft (27 m) in diameter, bring water up from the Orontes for irrigation
- Al Azem Palace which served as the Governor's residence during the Ottoman Empire
- The remains of the Roman aqueduct (still in use),
- The Great Mosque of jami An-Nuri which was built for the uncle of Saladin, Nur al-Din. (until 638 a Christian basilica)
- In the Al-Madina quarter of the city, you will find the Citadel surrounded by parks and river-side gardens.  The Great Mosque is also located here.  Close by is the Orthodox Church.
- Hama has Muhrajan al-Rabi (Spring Festival) in April where the local customs and traditions are displayed throughout the city.  This annual event is always a good time to visit Hama and its sourrounding areas.


Around Hama

The Roman ruins of Aphamea (Afimia) is 60 km northwest of Hama. Apamea was founded around 300 BC by Seleucus, ruler of northern Syria and Mesopotamia following the death of Alexander the Great and named after his Persian wife.  This trading town connected Latakia and Palmyra.  Besides the Roman ruins Qalaat Mudiq is also an impressive site. Later in its history Aphamea became and important stopping point for pilgrims from from Istanbul to Mecca.

Other sites of interest near Hama are Qalaat Burzey, Misyaf, Al-Baida, Deir Solieb, Qalaat Shmaimis, Qasr ibn Warden and Anderin, S'kalbiey and Mhardeh.


Economy
Hama is the capital of Hama governorate, W central Syria, on the Orontes River. It is the market center for an irrigated farm region where cotton, wheat, barley, millet, and corn are grown. Manufactures include cotton and woolen textiles, silk, carpets, and dairy products. Famous old waterwheels, some as much as 90 ft (27 m) in diameter, bring water up from the Orontes for irrigation. Hama is a road and rail center, and an airport is nearby.

Hama has Muhrajan al-Rabi (Spring Festival) in April where the local customs and traditions are displayed throughout the city.  This annual event is always a good time to visit Hama and its sourrounding areas.


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