Published: April 18th 2006August 18th 2003
That splash is one of the divers (in the pictures that follow.
I recently had a chance to visit Syria.
The first stop was Damascus, the capital, which is thought to have been inhabited since 2000 BC, it is one of the oldest cities in the world. During the day the heat is brutal, but the people come out after sunset to a cooler, different world, to stroll the sidewalks and picnic in the parks.
From the hillside, you can see the city spread out below with dots of green to show where the mosques are. Under the streets are reminants of the Romans. The Omayyad mosque (705 AD), the National Museum, Saladin's mausoleum (1193?) with its huge old walls are well worth a visit.
The crooked alleys of Souq al Hamadiyyeh, are full of atmosphere, hidden restaurants and tea shops provide a place for watching and conversation oblivious to the influence of tv.
In a gracefully aging grey Peugot 504 we hit the road north, first to Hamah and then Homs.
Hamāh, on the Orontes River is a relaxing place, and an ancient city, frequently mentioned in the Bible as Hamath, Hamah was once an important center of the Hittites, and the Romans built huge water wheels and
One of the divers
aquaducts to take the water from the river to the fields. The older areas of the town are filled with the sound of water, the groan of the axles, and the splash of the divers who ride the wheel 20 meters up into the air and plunge into the river below.
Homs, furthur up the Orontes River was known in antiquity as Emesa. My friends described it as home to the most beautiful women in Syria (which it may be), but we found it home to excellent falafel and pizza.
We returned to Damascus by way of the Bekaa valley. Beautiful hills, almond trees bent by the wind and pine trees which reminded me of home.
There are more photos below