Central Region

Homs 

Homs is the third most important city in Syria . It lies 160 km to the north of Damascus . Like Petra and Palmyra . Homs was an Arab emirate in the 2 nd century B.C . It was also the third station on the ‘ silk route ‘ after Doura Europos and Palmyra .
It still retains this position of importance toady , as the oil pipelines pass through the city .
Unfortunately, many buildings and citadels in Homs were destroyed by ancient earthquakes . There remains only one citadel in the south of the city with its Damascus and Palmyra gates .
This historical city produced many impressive personalities . Bassianos ( an emir of Homs ) , through his daughter’s marriage to the Roman emperor , Septimium severus , who ruled Rom from 193 to 221 , sired three rulers , Caracalla , Heliogabalus and Alexander Severus . The city was the birthplace of the famous Syria philosopher , Longenius , counselor to Queen Zenobia , and of the famous physician Marlin .
This historical city produced many impressive personalities . Bassianos ( an emir of Homs ) , through his daughter’s marriage to the Roman emperor , Septimium Severus , who ruled Rome from 193 to 221 , sired three rulers , Caraaclla , Heliogabalus and Alexander Severus . The city was the birthplace of the famous Syrian philospher , Longenius , counselor to Queen Zenobia , and of the famous physician , Marlian .www.tartoos.com
Among the most significant historic constructions remaining in Homs is the Mosque of Khaled ibn al-walid , the great commander of the Muslim Arab armies . Tow very tall white-stone minarets lend lightness to the imposing structure . The slender colonnade in black and white stone in horizontal rows is representative of traditional Syrian architecture .
Many church still stand in Homs from The days of early Christianity in Syria . one of these Churches is said to possess the girdle of the Blessed Virgin . The church of St . Elian is unique for its collection of fine  frescoes discovered in 1970 . These bear inscriptions in Greek and Arabic , and date back to the end of the 12 th century . The Nuri mosque also dates back to the 12 th century , distinguished foe its beautiful entrance .
In the Homs museum , there are many archaeo logical artifacts dating back to the ancient Syrian , Greek , Roman , Byzantine and Arab eras .
The Qattina lake is 15 km from Homs , it is rich in fish , and has the first rainwater dam used in agriculture which dates back to the 2 nd millennium B.C. close to ths lake is the archaeological hill called tel al-Nabi Mand(Qadesh ) , where a historic battle took place between the Hittites and the Egyptians in the thirteenth century B.C .

    Palmyra

Palmyra is the heart of Syrian desert , and is often described as ‘’ the bride of the desert ‘’. Its magnificient remains tell of a heroic history during the reign of Queen Zenobia .
The ‘’ Oasis ‘’ as it sometimes called , is located near a hot-water spring called Afqa . It was mentioned in one of the Assyrian tablets of Mari . Palmyra was an ideal halt for the caravans moving between Iraq and al-Sham ( present-day Syria , Lebanon and Jordan ) , trading in silk from China to the Mediterranean .
This strategic location made Tadmor ( Palmyra ) prosper in a well-established kingdom from the 2nd century B.C .
However , Tadmor was located between tow warring empires , Roman and Persia . Tadmor found that her interests lay more with Rome , since the Persians had ambitions to take over the mouths of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers which would endanger Palmyra’s trade .
When the Romans conquered Syria , Tadmor became knoen as the ‘’ city of plam-trees’’ and flourished even more : it imposed high taxes on goods from the caravans , and its horsemen fought alongside the Roman armies . When the Roman emperor Adrian visited Palmyra , he declared her a ‘’ free city ‘’ in return , the people of Tadmor gratefully called their city ‘’ Adrianapalmyra ‘’.
When the severus emperors , who were originally Syrian , came to rule Palmyra, they treated her people extremely well . The Emperor caracalla declared her a Roman colony , something the Palmyrians had always hoped for , since it exempted them from paying taxes on luxury items such as perfumes , spices , ivory , glass and silk .
This made the city a luxurious one : new constructions , streets arches , temples and statues were built , making Palmyra one of the greatest cities of the Roman empire .www.tartoos.com
When the conflict between Persia and Rome reached its crisis , Rom resorted to the ruler of Palmyra for help . This ruler , Auzaina managed to withstand the Persian armies , which led the Romans to call him ‘’ The leader of the East ‘’, But hw was soon assassinated in mysterious circumstances , and his second wife , Zenobia , a woman renowned for her exceptionally strong character , took power . She ruled Palmyra in a way that astonished both West and East .
She was exceptionally intelligent and attractive . She was a gifted linguist , an eloquent speaker of Palmyrian , Greek and Egyptian . Zenobia had a wide knowledge of politics , and in her court , she had many philosophers , scholars and theologians .
Queen Zanobia was soon fired by the ambition of getting rid of Roman domination . In 268 , during the reign of Emperor Aurelian , she decided to conquer all of Rome’s territories . Aurelian was then very much engaged in internal conflicts as well as external wars .
This enabled Queen Zenobia to take over the whole of Syria  , conquer Egypt and send her armies to Asia Minor , gaining control thereby of all the land and sea-ways to the far East . She took the title of ‘’August’’ which was only used by the emperor of Rome , and she had money coined with her and her son’s likeness upon it , without that to the emperor of Rome .
However , the Emperor Aurelian took quick action in settling his internal disputes , and started to plan his revenge on Queen Zenobia . He formed a new army for this purpose , which proceeded through Turkey to conquer Zenabia’s army in its first defensive position in Homs . It besieged Palmyra until it fell in 274 .
Queen Zenobia was defeated and taken captive to Rome , fettered in chains of gold .
The destiny of the great kingdom of Palmyra was no better than that of its queen ‘ the city fell prey to looting and destruction .
Archaeologists are still  working on excavations there in order to uncover the queen’s palace which was destroyed by the Roman and replaced by a military camp .www.tartoos.com
Queen Zenobia’s ambitious dream is still embodied in the magnificient remains of what she built .
Palmyra lies 210 km northeast of Damascus and 155 km east of Homs . A tour among the ruins , which cover an area of 6 square kilometers , requires a full day in order to form an adequate idea of the beauty of the architecture which has remained . Worth visiting are the Baal temple , the Arch of Triumph , the Congress Council and the ‘’ Straight Street ‘’ , the Congress Council and the Cemeteries . Close to Palmyra , on a nearby hill , stands the citadel of Fakhr al-Din al-Ma’in ( 17th century ) .
The meseum of Palmyra ( the Tadmor museum  ) is rich in art of different periods ; sculpture , mosaic , gold , bronze and pottery . It also exhibits the folklore of Palmyra and the Syrian desert .
The spring of Afqa in Palmyra is the source of life of the famous oasis . Its sulphurous mineral water is said to aid in the treatment of skin diseases , chest and liver complaints and anemia . It also stimulates digestion and blood circulation .

    Hama

The city is 200 km to the north of Damascus and 60 km to the east of Banyas . It is a very ancient city , which has flourished continually since ancient times , and has known the successive civilization of the fertile Crescent .
Battles was that of Qarqar , where the Assyrian army was defeated in 853 B.C . Unfortunately , few of its ancient relics have been preserved . However , Hama is well known for its enormous waterwheels ( noriahs ) on the Orontes , which are as old as Hama itself .
One of Hama’s ancient buildings is al-Jami’ al-Kabir ( the great Mosque ) , which dates back to the 14 th century and includes tow tombs of two emirs who ruled Hama in the 13 th century . Another mosque is that of Abu al-Fida , named after Hama’s Sultan , who was a famous Arab geographer and historian . The city is aften linked with his name . A third ancient mosque is the al-Nuri mosque , which was built in the days of Noureddin al-Zanki in 1129 ; on its wall appear inscriptions in both Arabic and Greek . Hama is particularly famous for its traditional industries , especially textiles and cotton cloth .
 
Aphamea an the citadels of Nudiq and Shaizar
 
Apamea is located on the right bank of the Orontes . about 500 km to the northwest to Hama . It overlooks the Ghaab plain . It was built by Saluqos Nikator , the first king of the selsucids in Syria in 300 B.C . He named it after his wife , Afamia . The city flourished to an extent that its population numbered half a million . As an Eastern crossroads , it received many distinguished visitors : Cleopatra , Septimus Severus Apamea became a center of philosophy and thought ,especially of Monophostism .
Most of the uncovered ruins in it date back to the Roman and Byzantine . It is distinguished for its high walls and the main thoroughfare surrounded by columns with twisted fluting . The street is about 2 km long and 87 m wide . The ruins of the Roman theatre , which have been frequently disturbed , are now a great mass of stone . Its colonnade is 145 m long .
 Erected in the 2 nd century , it was destroyed in the 12 th century by tow violent earthquakes ; some columns are still standing nevertheless . To the West of the city , stands the Mudiq citadel which once formed a defence line a long the Orontes . Fierce battles with the Crusaders attempting to comquer it look place in the  12 th century , and Nur al-Din finally surrendered it in 1149 . The citadel has huge towers , overlooking the Ghaab plain . It also has a a Khan built by the Turks in the 16th century , and transformed into an archaeological museum wich houses Apamea’s mosaics .
To the south of Mudiq castel lies the citadel of Shaizar overlooking the Orontes . In the Middle Ages it coula only be reached by a draw-birdge . the main tower to the citadel is square in shape  and overlooks the defensive fortresses . Arabic inscriptions form the Mamluk periods appear over it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1157 . The Crusaders tired to occyy it several times , but in vain .