Al Jalaa Street,, Hama, Hamah, Syria
An oriental fairytale
Looking like it has come out of a fairytale, Orient House is an old, beautiful house, converted to a hotel of an excellent quality. All rooms are spacious, with satellite TV, fridge and air-condition. The reception area is charming; there is also a very elegant dinning-room where someone can have diner. The ambience of the whole place is pleasant and relaxing.
More about Hamah
King Food at the far end
Ali Baba Resto.
the view at the terrace
one of the norias of Hama
Travel Tips for Hamah
a little about Hama
Hama... it really has been around for a very long time - actually from the Neolithic Age. From then on everyone seem to have passed by here: Assyrians, Greeks, everyone - yet very little of the glorious past has remained. Hama is basically your typical anonymous concrete Middle Eastern town, with one significant exception: the norias (water wheels) on the Oronte river. While Hama is paticularly uninteresting, or maybe to make up for it, the area all around it is full of beauty, castles, ruins, and the likes. I spend only two days there, cramming as much as I could into such a short stay, but I could have stayed for weeks. Plenty of wonders just waiting to be discovered.
Forget romanticism: bedouin life is changing in Syria, too. People are becoming less of a nomad and they are getting used to live in houses more. I have had the pleasure to be invited by some friendly bedouin women for chai near Qasr Ibn Wardan - and even if i did not stay for too long it's obvious that there are starting to be some problems among bedouin people. Abandoning their nomadic lifestyle and becoming more "sedentary" has meant that many have now access to some degrees of formal education. However, a problem I came across by speaking to one of the girls, is that the new generation has made this life-style their own, and see future in education. Her parents, however, have never quite settled down in this "new" reality and try to bring forth their traditional way of living... which for a woman means to get married and help her husband or family in farming - at the expense of education. She was really sad by this family imposition to give up going to school to be useful to the family - and so seemed to be her sisters. She also had worried about the future laying ahead for her baby daughter, a worry I can easily share. I guess that, as Syria moves ahead, only time will tell how life for these welcoming people will be. I surely wish them - women especially - more opportunities in life, more alternatives.
Hama is a great departure point for discovering central and western Syria. There are numerous Crusader and Arab castles (which often battled against each other), and ancient sites, as well as dead cities (further north). The most famous of such sites near Hama are the Crusader Castle of Krak des Chevaliers, the Roman city of Apamea, and perhaps also the Byzantine dead city of Serjilla. The best method of transport is via private car with a local driver, which could be hired at a relatively inexpensive price. For more freedom (as we did), you could rent your own car, but beware, the roads and signs are not the best.
Krak des Chevaliers
This extraordinary Castle of the Knights is one of the major Syrian’s sightseeing. Located on a hill about 10km north of Homs, it is one of the most well preserved Crusaders’ castles in the world. The Emir of Homs was the first who built a fortress at this location in 1301. In 1099 the First Crusaders while “visiting” the place on their way to Jerusalem, took it over. Few years later, in 1110, the Christians Knights attacked the fortress again. Krak Des Chevalier took its final form in 1142 by the Knights Hospitaller and was kept in their hands until 1271, when the Mamluk Sultan Beybars attacked it. The castle is constituted of two parts: the outside wall and the inner fortress. Admission: 150SP. Open daily 9am-6pm (April-October), 9am-4pm (November-March). To visit Krak, there are regular buses departing from Homs.
qasr ibn wardan
Wonderful, wonderful bizantine palace. Unexpected, too. Then one night at the Cairo hotel i was looking at the area map and admiring the photos when i saw this place - it was love at first sight and I knew I simply had to go there. Qasr Ibn Wardan, out in the middle of nowhere (about 60 kilometres north-east of Hama), is a little gem: black basalt and pink-ochre bricks, laid out in scenic layers. A real delight to the eye. Inside, in the courtyard, you can see some nicely carved stones, one of which worked as a sundial. The nearby church, in similar style, is charming too, and you can climb up to the ruins of the first floor for some interesting views and angles.
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We've found that other people looking for this hotel also know it by these names:
- Orient House Hotel Hamah
Address: Al Jalaa Street,, Hama, Hamah, Syria