The Ade Syria Tour – Day 8 –Hama and Homs

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December 26th 2008
Published: December 28th 2008
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We got up this morning and went in search of breakfast. It was almost a fruitless search as there was noone in the restaurant that we could easily find . However on a second attempt we managed to rouse somebody and they actually ended serving us up the most delightful breakfast (although mum absolutely hated it). Dad and I both had a truly lovely omelette, followed up by some cornflakes. Mum has steadfastly refused to use the milk in Syria as she cannot find out whether or not it is pasteurised, so instead she has been putting bottle water onto her cornflakes…… yummy.

After breakfast we went for a little walk around the old town of Hama. It is actually quite beautiful and there is very little rubbish strewn around the streets as in other cities. Hama is actually very interesting as it is the place that the first water wheel was supposedly invented in around 420AD. A number of water wheels are still in place in the town. Dad very cleverly worked out that the purpose of the water wheels were designed to pick up water from the river (which obviously wasn’t quite as skanky as it is now) and put it into the aquaduct and distribute it amongst the town.

Adbul picked us up from the hotel at 10:30am and took us of to see the Hama Palace and the museum. The palace was very similar to the ones in Damascus and Aleppo but the museum was excellent. It was easily the best that we had seen in the country and had a large and beautiful roman mosaic in place. This museum actually had all of the exhibits well labelled in English which was a pleasant change. It is quick tricky trying to work out what the French means in museums sometimes.

After the museum Abdul took us down to Homs. This is only 30 minutes away. We have decided that hotels in Syria go down in quality the further up the hotel that you go. The foyers and receptions are always lovely and then as soon as you go up the stairs and go into the hotel room it is a hovel. This hotel in particular had a nice foyer and the rooms were awful. The were all mustard colored (which was fine for me as mustard is one of my colors so I liked it - however mum hated it as it is not one of her colors).
This hotel (The Safir) however was excellent for food. We had the most beautiful buffet lunch, however it was difficult to find out from the staff whether or not we would be able to get lunch from the hotel at all.

After lunch Abdul came back to the hotel to pick dad and I up (mum had decided to stay in the hotel and have a sleep) to see some of the churches in Homs. It was actually rather lucky that mum decided to stay behind as when we were walking to the churches a group of Syrian men were clustered on the street around a sheep, whose throat had just been cut and whose bleed was running down the street. I don’t think mum would have enjoyed that!

Dad and I were a little ambivalent about what the churches would be like and weren’t all that keen on seeing them, however the first church, The Greek Orthodox Church of Homs, was actually really really lovely. It had recently been restored and had a whole lot of frescoes recently completed as part of a donation from Bucharest in Romania (I have no idea why Romania would be donating frescoes to Syria, but there you go). This church was built in honor of St Ellian.
St. Ellien apparently accepted the Christian faith even though his father and family were not Christians. Because of this, he and his family were at odds with one another.

When St. Ellien became a Christian, he took stock of the talents that God had given him. He heard the Gospel of our Lord concerning the parable of talents and decided to use his talents to benefit others. Because of his mastery of the healing arts and the fact that he not only effectively healed the body, but also the soul, he stirred up jealousy in the hearts of his fellow physicians who were not followers of Christ. There was a great persecution of Christians at that time and they used his Christian faith against him. First they appealed to his father who held a powerful position in the city. They asked him to force his son to stop what he was doing, to give up his practice of medicine and stop healing in the name of Jesus Christ. But St. Ellien refused to listen to these men or his father knowing that he would have to give an account before His Heavenly Master as to what he did with the many talents God had given him. When they found that he would not listen to them or his father, they appealed to the Governor of Homs to imprison St. Ellien along with the Bishop of Homs, Silvanus, the Deacon Luke, and the Reader Mocime.

Saint Ellien felt unworthy and overjoyed to be in their company and he kissed and reverenced the chains that bound them. When these men were about to be put to death, St. Ellien prayed to God and angel appeared to him and said: “Do not be grieved, O Ellien, a crown has been prepared for you. You will conquer your enemies and the devil’s tricks. Do not fear their torture for, I am with you!”
St. Ellien suffered through many hardships. He suffered imprisonment and tortures, all along preaching and healing those who were sick. Finally he was put to death at the hands of his own father who had twelve long nails driven into his head. St. Ellien was left for dead. He did not die there. When his executioners left, he managed to crawl to a cave owned by a potter. When the potter came to the cave and discovered the body of St. Ellien he took it by night to the church of the Apostles and St. Barbara where he was buried at the East of the Altar.

The second church was a little more drab. This church was Syrian Orthodox (whatever that is) and had a shrine to Mary the mother of Jesus’ belt. Yes that is correct, they had a holy relic behind glass that they claim is Mary’s belt.

Additional photos below
Photos: 12, Displayed: 12


The pimped up local ridesThe pimped up local rides
The pimped up local rides

two young men followed us through the old city on their pimped up rides!
Syrian Orthodox ChurchSyrian Orthodox Church
Syrian Orthodox Church

The one with Mary's belt!

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