The remote Byzantine site of al-Andarin (الاندرين) is spread over a vast area at the edges of the semi-desert, about twenty-five kilometers beyond the more well-known Byzantine site of Qasr Ibn Wardan (قصر ابن وردان). Once a massive settlement, much of the site remains unexcavated, but it is nonetheless a fascinating place to explore. The site is perhaps most impressive for the surreal setting, with pieces of Byzantine masonry scattered around what is today a rather inhospitable countryside.
Most well-preserved of the structures at al-Andarin (الاندرين) is what was apparently a barracks, with a church located in the center of the complex. There are remains of another church nearby, of which part of an arch remains standing. Much excavation work has been carried out here recently, and many well-preserved stone carvings have been uncovered around the outer walls of the barracks. There is still a significant amount of archaeological work to be done here, however.
Getting There: al-Andarin (الاندرين) is well worth a look if you have the means of getting there. This, unfortunately, is not easily accomplished. Public transportation from Hama (حماة) only travels as close as the town of al-Hamra (ال حمرا), from which private transportation must be arranged for the remaining distance. Microbuses run from Hama (حماة) to al-Hamra (ال حمرا) fairly regularly, and the trip takes 30 minutes.
While it shouldn’t be too difficult to hitchhike to Qasr Ibn Wardan (قصر ابن وردان), it is significantly more difficult to find transportation that continues as far north as al-Andarin (الاندرين). The nearest village is Maslukhiyeh, about three kilometers before al-Andarin (الاندرين). Beyond Maslukhiyeh a road runs off to the right (east) to the ruins, which are visible in the distance (if you’re looking closely for them). There are no road signs for al-Andarin (الاندرين), and no road signs in English for the villages here, but the site is well-known to the locals.
If negotiating with a driver in al-Hamra (ال حمرا) for a round-trip fare, be sure to allow a couple of hours to fully explore the site. You could also negotiate a one-way fare, and then attempt to hitchhiking or find a passing driver for hire back to al-Hamra (ال حمرا). If combining a visit to al-Andarin (الاندرين) with Qasr Ibn Wardan (قصر ابن وردان), it should be possible to find drivers for hire passing through Qasr Ibn Wardan (قصر ابن وردان) traveling in both directions. Given the remoteness of this site, it isn’t recommended you attempt to visit alone, particularly if you are a woman.
The Riad Hotel and Cairo Hotel in Hama (حماة) also offer reasonably priced tours to this area, and could be compelled to add al-Andarin (الاندرين) on to an itinerary that includes Qasr Ibn Wardan (قصر ابن وردان).