Syria – Castles and Ancient Ruins

Me and a guy from the hotel decided to head towards the Krak des Chevaliers castle and other ancients ruins just east of Hama. We arranged a driver to take us to these places. He couldn’t speak good English so it was difficult to know what we were looking at.

The Krak des Chevaliers castle is considered among the best preserved in the world. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Each of the photos are expandable.

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Syria – Hama

(Continued from “My Journey Through Syria in 2011 – Aleppo“)

I spent a few nights in Hama, arriving from Damascus by bus. Again the time period was May of 2011. I intended to stop here to take a day trip to the well-known Crac des Chevaliers castle just west of Hama. At the hotel there was just one other tourist, a young man from Japan. The hotel owner spoke fluent English and was really helpful in pointing out places of interest in the area. There were curfews after about 9 PM due to rising tensions. This was around the beginning of the disaster that would soon unfold over Syria. There were no violence, protests, or rallies in Hama at the time – just an atmosphere of concern. There had been skirmishes in Daraa, which is in the southwestern portion of the country, that had killed scores of people. The owner was more cautious about the events going on unlike the owner of the hotel in Aleppo where I stayed previously. The Aleppo hotel owner had little concern about rising tensions and just brushed it off as something temporary.

The town of Hama had a sad history. Back in 1982 the elder Assad, Hafez, ordered the army to come into Hama and take on the Muslim Brotherhood which was opposed to the government. It was a bloody battle that killed thousands of citizens and destroyed much of the historic city center. Some remnants still remain however:

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Palmyra Syria in 2011

Palmyra has (had) among the world’s greatest ruins of the Roman Empire. I stayed in Palmyra for three nights. This was in mid-May of 2011. I arrived from Hama. During my entire stay, I saw just one other foreign tourist, who was from Germany. I basically had Palmyra for myself. There was a lot of hiking as Palmyra was a large site. Most shots below were taken with a Nikon D300. I used a Bogen tripod for a lot of evening shots.

I stayed in this hotel while visiting Palmyra. It was right next to the sights. The town was small and seemed to be built specifically for the tourist industry, which had suffered since 9/11. Sadly, much of Palmyra now lies in ruins.

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May 14th, 2011 (images are clickable)

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