Apamea is located on the right bank of the Orontes river about 55 km to the north west of Hama. It overlooks the Ghab valley and was built by Seleucus Nicator, the first king of the Seleucids in Syria in 300 BC. He named it after his parisian wife, Afamea.
The city flourished to an extent that its population numbered half a million. As an Eastern crossroads, it received many distinguished visitors: Cleopetra, Septimus Severus and the Emperor Caracalla. In the Christian era, Apamea became a center of philosophy and thought, especially of Monophostism.
Most of the uncovered ruins in it date back to the Roman and Byzantine ages. It is distinguished for its high walls and the main thoroughfare surrounded by columns with twisted fluting. The street is 1850 meters long and 87 meters wide. The ruins of the Roman theater which have been frequently disturbed, are now a great mass of stone.
Its colonnade (The Cardo Maximus) is 145 meters long. Erected in the 2nd century, it was destroyed in the 12th century by two violent earthquakes; some columns are still standing nevertheless.
To the west of the city, stands the Mudiq citadel, which once formed a defense line along the Orontes.
Fierce battles with Crusaders attempting to conquer it took place in the 12th century, and Nour Eddin finally surrendered it in 1149.
The citadel has huge towers, overlooking the Ghab valley. It also has a Khan (Inn) built by Ottomans in the 16th century which was transformed into an archaeological museum housing Apamea's wonderful mosaics, paintings, and 15,000 cuneiform clay tablets.