Homs or Hims is the third important city in
it is strategically located at the fertile Orontes River (Naher
al-Aassi, - Assi means Rebel, since the river runs northwards)
Valley in the centre of Siria,
between Damasco (162 Km South) and
Alepo (193 Km north). It is very close
to the coast (Tartus, 96 Km West) and is
not far from Hama (47 Km) to the north and
Palmira (155 Km) to the southeast. Homs
is the only natural gateway from the Mediterranean coast to the
Homs is an ancient city dating back to the year 2300 B.C
and was known in Roman times as Emesa, which contained a
great temple to the sun god El Gebal (Aramaic; Latin: Elagabalus;
Greek: Heliogabalus). Emesa was ruled by a line of priest-kings
throughout the Roman Empire, and two of its nobility rose to
become emperor, Elagabalus and Severus Alexande who ruled Rome
from 193 to 211. Four Homs women became Roman Empresses -Julia
Domma, Julia Maesa, Julia Mammea and Julia Soemia. Aurelian
(reigned AD 270-275) made the town his headquarters and there
defeated Queen Zenobia of Palmira.
Emesa's fortunes were always tied with the trade city of Palmira.
As long as Palmira flourished so did Emesa. When Zenobia was
defeated at Palmira in about 272 AD, Emesa declined. Only the
remains of one citadel built above a rocky hill south of the city
with two gates and a wall remained intact. The two gates
are: Bab Sham (Damasco) and the Bab Palmira. Homs was the third
station on the Silk Road after Doura Europos and
Christianity was established
in Emesa early on, as 3rd to 7th century. Catacombs were found in
houses in the eastern quarter, where quite a large population of
Christians still live. After Arab conquest, it is said that 500 of
the prophet's companions came and settled here. Homs became
important, again but by the 18th century Homs had sunk into a
state of weakness.
Homs was taken in 636 by the Muslims, who renamed it Homs, and
the city's large Christian element was eliminated during the
rebellion of 855. Hims later (1516) passed into Ottoman hands,
where it remained, except for a brief period of Egyptian control
in the 1830s, until the creation of
Siria after World War I.
The word " Homs " derives from a Canaanite root that means
Attractions and historical building
The prime attractions and most important historical building
in the city of Homs are:
Khaled Ibn Al-Walid Mosque (take the name of the Arab Moslim
leader Khaled Bin Al-Walid who lived in Homs for the last
seven years of his life), this building is distinguished by its
metal dome which reflects sunshine. It is also famous for
its two high minarets and narrow galleries built with black
and white stones in a horizontal manner.
- The Kaneesat Um Zunnar Church which was named after a
piece of cloth said to have belonged to the Virgin Mary that was
found underneath the alter during renovations in the 1950's.
- Another church in the area is Kaneesat Mar Elian Church
which also had discovered beautiful wall paintings and mosaic in
the 1970's during renovations. It also contains Arab
and Greek scripts dating back to the twelfth century AD and even
as far back as the sixth century.
- The ruins of the underground monastery and chapel of the
Syrian Aramain Church.
- Other attractions include the Citadel,Homs Old gates,
Al Nouri Mosque (or Great Mosque), the ancient souks
- Between Homs and Tartus, the
Crac de los Caballeros (Qalaat al-Hossn)
is the most important castle of the middle ages. It is
located 65 km west of Homs and reaches a summit of 750 meters
above sea level. The castle controls a strategic passage called
the Homs gap in the Orontes Valley. The castle was erected
covers an area of 3 hectares and has 13 towers containing a number
of halls, stores, passages, stables and bridges.
- The Qattina Lake which is 15 kilometers from Homs; it has rainwater dam used in
agriculture. Which dates back to the 2nd millennium B.C. Close to
this lake is the archaeological hill called Tal al-Nabi Mando (Qadesh),
where a historic battle took place between the Hittites and the
Egyptians in the thirteenth century B.C
- In the Homs museum, there are many archaeological
artifacts dating back to the ancient Syrian, Greek, Roman,
Byzantine and Arab eras.
- Other places of interest around Homs, include
al-Rastan, Meshta al-Helu (Resort
Town), Mar Jourjous (Monastery of St. George), Wadi al-Nasara
(collection of Christian villages surrounding Qalaat al-Hosn), al-Mishrefeh
and Lake Qattina.
- Homs has a very beatiful Restaurants on Orontes
river-side like, Dik al Jen, Abbara, Al Ahram,
Marsella, Miranda, Abu Samra, Al Dawwar,
Kardinia and al Tannur.
Homs governorate is the largest in
Siria (43,630 sq.km.). Its central
location and size made it the third governorate in agriculture,
trade and industry.
Homs is distinguished from other Syrian governorates in its
important strategic location. It is in the middle of Siria, on a
hill of approximately 508m height above sea level.
Homs is situated in a fertile agricultural region that produces
wheat, corn (maize), millet, cotton, fruits, and vegetables. The
city has thus become
a thriving agricultural market centre; its
local handicrafts, which include jewelry, belts, and cloaks, are
also well-known. In addition, Hims has an oil refinery opened in
1959, an agricultural research station, fertilizer and
vegetable-oil plants, a sugar refinery, and a university (1979).
The hub of an important road and rail network, it is the central
link between the interior cities and the Mediterranean coast. A
shrine and mosque erected
in 1908 honours the Arab general and conqueror
Khaled ibn al-Walid, known as "the Sword of Islam," who
died there in 642. Hims contains a medieval citadel with
remains of older foundations.