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Homs, Syria

Homs is the 3rd most important city in Syria. It lies 160 km to the north of Damascus. Homs, which was called Mesa in ancient times, was the third station on the Silk route after Dura Europos and Palmyra.

Unfortunately, ancient earthquakes destroyed many buildings and citadels in Homs. There remains only one citadel in the south of the city with its Damascus and Palmyra gates.

Khalid ibn Al-Walid Mosque, HomsThis historical city produced many impressive personalities. Bassianos (an emir of Homs), through his daughter's marriage to the Roman emperor, Septimium Severus, who ruled Rome from 193 to 211 AD, sired three rulers, Caracalla, Heliogabalus and Alexander Severus. The city was the birthplace of the famous Syrian philosopher, Longenius, counselor to Queen Zenobia, and of the famous physician, Marlian.

Among the most significant historic constructions remaining in Homs is the mosque of Khalid ibn Al-Walid, the great commander of the Muslim Arab armies. Two very tall white-stone minarets lend lightness to the imposing structure. The slender colonnade in black and white stone in horizontal rows is representative of traditional Syrian architecture.

Many churches still stand in Homs from the days of early Christianity in Syria. One of these churches is said to possess the girdle of the Blessed Virgin. The church of St. Elian is unique for its collection of fine frescoes discovered in 1970. These bear inscriptions in Greek and Arabic, and date back to the end of the 12th century.

The Nuri mosque also dates back to the 12th century, distinguished for its beautiful entrance.

In Homs museum, there are many archaeological artifacts dating back to the ancient Syrian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Arab eras.

The Qattina lake is 15 km from Homs, it is rich in fish, and has the first rainwater dam used in agriculture which dates back to the 2nd millennium BC. Close to this lake is the archaeological hill called Tel Ennabi Mand (Qadesh), where a historic battle took place between the Hittites and the Egyptians in the 13th century BC.

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