Dec 27, 2006 - road to damascus series    3 Comments

Road to Damascus 16 – Hama

Description of Hama

An ancient Noria in Hama

Hama was our hotel base of operations because it’s a city right in the middle of Syria. From there we went to Aleppo, Palmyra, Homs, Lattakia and everywhere else. It’s mainly famous for two things. The first are its incredible ancient water wheels, called “norias” in Arabic. These are huge and dot the river that winds all through the town. They were once built to pick up water from the river and bring them into some kind of irrigation system. I’ve yet to figure out how this works without electricity…pulley system or something? I should ask my Dad the physicist one day.

The first picture is of the Al-Nuri Mosque, built by or for Salahuddin’s uncle Nur al-Din Ayyubi. The courtyard is particularly beautiful and we prayed out here our first night in town. You can see it there across the river next to the big noria in the other pictures.

The second reason Hama is famous is that in 1982 there was an uprising of the Ikhwan al-Muslimoon here. Syria is and was a dictatorship. So they sent in the army and basically decimated the population and destroyed most of Hama in the process. 8,000 people were killed and even though it happenned over 20 years ago, no one has ever forgotten it. There is basically only one little street left of what was the old city. Everything else is new, including the parks around the river, the fancy restaurants, streets, etc.

I’m a big believer in a place having echoes of feelings. Echoes of the people who were there, the events that happened. Perhaps space-time records these things and some people who are sensitive enough can tune into them and feel them. Perhaps it is just good imagination. But whatever the case, any visitor to Hama can tell you that despite the pretty waterwheels and parks, the modern feel, the dead are still there and sometimes it feels like we’re walking over their graves.

Link to the pictures of Hama


  • salaam, it’s interesting, if you read Imam Zaid’s little bio in the beginning of his book ‘Scattered Pictures’, he mentions that it was after visiting Hama, and seeing the remnants of the destroyed city, and the widows and orphaned children, that he totally changed his ‘militant’ attitude and really started to understand the effects of that type of rhetoric… subhan’Allah I think you’re right, that there’s something a little bit haunting about the place because of it’s history.

  • i agree. even though the blood has been washed away the feeling of death is everywhere. theres something morbid about visiting a place where a massacre occurred… like you shouldn’t be smiling or something.

  • they tried to make it so nice with their new parks and things…but u just can’t make ppl forget u know…