Apamea, or Afamia as the Syrians call it, was founded in the 3rd century BCE, by Seleucus I, former general in the army of Alexander the Great. Named after his Persian wife Afamia, Apamea achieved importance as a trading post and was famous for its many horses, stables, and even elephants who were used in warfare. Even now, the area around Apamea is clearly fertile and pleasant to live in. Whatever can be seen now are the remains of the rebuilt city that reached its best days in the 2nd century CE. It continued to be prosperous until the 6th century, and after it fell to the Mamluks, the city declined further.
As I got off the microbus, I immediately saw the imposing citadel, rising high above the surroundings. Almost automatically, I started walking up, past the citadel, and further up. This was Qala'at al Mudiq, one of the many castles used in medieval times, and apparently the only one still inhabited today. But I was on my way to Apamea, of which I soon spotted the first columns standing out of the landscape. Although not one column was standing on this highland in the 1930s, serious archeological work has resulted in one of the most impressive restored Roman streets in the Middle East.
I had not realized before visiting that it would be so extensive. The cardo seemed to become always more endless, but I finally reached the end at Antioch Gate. I then had some great views from the many standing columns, looking over the barren agricultural lands that were scattered with remains of Roman houses. I visited the Roman villa and the remains of the cathedral, before meeting a very curious and affectionate Syrian man who started to hug me and babbled away in Arabic, which I unfortunately could not understand. Hours after I had planned to leave Apamea, I started walking down, saw some of the mosaics that had been recovered at Apamea, before heading to Hama.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Apamea (Syria). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Apamea. Read more about this site.