The rain and cold continued on my arrival in Hama so I decided to take the opportunity to see some of the sites in the area that I would miss on my bike. I was joined on the day long tour by Sergio and Mae, a couple living in Barcelona and on a 2-week tour of Syria. We arranged a car and driver to take us around to some of the historical sites of Western Syria.
Apamea was founded in the 3rd Century B.C. by a former general in the army of Alexander the Great, a testament to the age of some sites and artefacts in this part of the world. The General was named Seleucus but he diplomatically named the settlement after his wife Afamia. The area in those days was a rich pastureland. Things have changed because the current day surroundings are rocky and devoid of any vegetation. At its peak, Apamea had a population of 500,000. After a series of conquests, Syria was conquered by Muslims in 612 AD it fell into decline.
Here is the main street of the Apamea ruins, shrouded in mist.
A guard watching our progress as we make our way through Apamea makes an eerie picture.
This part of Syria is well known for the Dead Cities, a series of ancient ghost towns scattered around the rocky hills. There is a mystery as to why the towns were abandoned and some look as if the people just disappeared. Most historians now believe they were simply the victim of shifting demographics and as the trade routes changed, the people moved with them. The town of Serjilla has been abandoned for over 15 Centuries but some of the buildings are still in remarkable condition.
Here is a panoramic view of the Dead City of Serjilla.