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Syria: Norias

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Norias > Syria > Asia

[Visited: March 2004]

Right in the centre of Hama, there is a pleasant park on the riverfront. Some gigantic wooden waterwheels turn here, scooping up water from the Orontes river and taking it up to the aquaduct running from it. Although the system is not used anymore in present days, it is still easy to see how simple and smart it is. Water just falls back down into the river it was taken from. In medieval times, Hama had some 30 norias, of which around a dozen remain.

Picture of Norias (Syria): Noria of Bichriyat near Hama

Then, there is the largest noria, the Al Mohammediyyeh, not far from the park, up to 20 metres in diameter. But the best spot is a little upstream from the town centre. Here, in the garden of a restaurant, and a quiet spot on the river, are the four norias of Bichriyat. Attached to the norias on the other side of the river, is a still largely intact aquaduct, which in days gone by could transport the water from here to the agricultural areas in the neighbourhood.

Picture of Norias (Syria): Detail of noria in Hama

The slowly turning wooden wheels make a remarkable sound, while they scoop up the filthy river water which then splashes down when it reaches its highest point. A lot of things might look different today in Hama, but this sound must have been the same centuries ago when these norias still had the important task to provide water to people and plants. It is also called the singing of the norias.

Picture of Norias (Syria): Bichriyat noria reflected in river near Hama
Picture of Norias (Syria): Noria in city park of Hama
Picture of Norias (Syria): Al-Mohammediyyeh noria in Hama

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