The Syria of today offers tourists as much a cultural experience as a sightseeing one, where ancient history provides a fascinating backdrop to everyday life on the streets                          




Known as Pharnake before the conquest of Alexander the Great, it became one of the most beautiful cities of the Hellenistic Orient. 

Taken over by Seleucos Nicator, a lieutenant of the great Macedonian conqueror, it became one of the three main cities of the Seleucid Empire. With Antioch on the Orontes and Seleucia on the Tigris this Empire spread from the Mediterranean to the Indus valley. Later on Pompey attached it to the Roman Empire, this era and the following Byzantine era is to what Apamea owes its current beauty. 

The final works on it were in the 6th century, after it was occupied and laid waste by the Persians then taken back by the Byzantines. However when the Muslims arrived it showed little defense and it was taken over easily. 

Its prosperity continued to decline and the ancient fortified acropolis was used by the Hamdanids in Aleppo as an outpost. Trancred the Latin prince took it over from the Egyptian Fatimides in 1106. Then the Crusaders who called in Femia, kept it until 1149, when Nur Al Din conquered it. The Arabs then set up Qalaat Al Mudiq, as the guardian for this part of the Orontes valley, and in 1157 it was devastated by a large earthquake.

Apamea is most famous for its columned street or what is known as Cardo Maximus by the Romans. This street is about 1.85 Km, and runs directly from North to South. The street is approximately 37 meters wide and was used for wheeled transport. It was lined on both sides with civic and religious buildings. 

On the road that leads to Khan Sheikhoun is a site with remains of Roman and Byzantine residences. In the opposite direction lies a beautiful theatre, and further on a museum, which was a Turkish caravanserai used on the pilgrimage route. This museum now holds beautiful mosaics collected from Apamea. Among the mosaics is one depicting Socrates and the Sages. There are also some funerary stelae and a sarcophagus with Latin inscriptions.

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Toronto - Canada
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