Homs - Is the third largest city in Syria and is located 160 km north of Damascus. It is strategically located between Damascus and Aleppo and is not far from Hama to the north, Palmyra to the southeast, and the coast to the west. See Maps for locations and distances.
An industrial city in the fertile Orontes River (al-Assi) Valley, Homs was once the ancient city of Emesa, which held a temple to the sun god Elagabal (it's alleged to be where high priest Heliogabalus became emperor of Rome). Homs is now known for its silk goods. Prime attractions of Homs are the Khalid Ibn Al-Walid Great Mosque and the ruins of the underground monastery and chapel of the Syrian Aramain Church. Other attractions include the Citadel, Al Nouri Mosque, Kaneesat Um Zummar, Kaneesat Mar Elian the ancient souks and the cities proximity of the formidable Medieval castle Krak Des Chevaliers (Qalaat al-Hosn).
Homs is an ancient city dating back to the year 2300 B.C. it contains a number of installations and castles, but earthquakes had destroyed most of the historical landmarks. Only the remains of one citadel built above a rocky hill south of the city with two gates and a wall remained intact. The two gates are: Bab Sham (Damascus) and the Bab Palmyra.
The most important historical building in the city is the mosque and tomb of the Arab Moslem leader Khaled Bin Al-Walid who lived in Homs for the last seven years of his life. This building is distinguished by its metal dome which reflects sunshine. It is also famous for its two high minarets and narrow galleries built with black and white stones in a horizontal manner. Another mosque in the city Al-Nouri Mosque, which dates back to the twelfth century.
There is also the Kaneesat Um Zummar church which was named after a piece of cloth said to have belonged to the Virgin Mary that was found underneath the alter during renovations in the 1950's. Another church in the area is Kaneesat Mar Elian church which also had discovered beautiful wall paintings and mosaic in the 1970's during renovations. It also contains Arab and Greek scripts dating back to the twelfth century AD and even as far back as the sixth century.
Between Homs and Tartus, the Krak Des Chevaliers (Qalaat al-Hosn) is the most important castle of the middle ages. It is located 65 km west of Homs and reaches a summit of 750 meters above sea level. The castle controls a strategic passage called the Homs gap in the Orontes Valley. The castle was erected covers an area of 3 hectares and has 13 towers containing a number of halls, stores, passages, stables and bridges.
Around Homs - Other places of interest around Homs, include al-Rastan, Meshta al-Helu (Resort Town), Mar Jourjous (Monastery of St. George), Wadi al-Nasara (collection of Christian villages surrounding Qalaat al-Hosn), al-Mishrefeh and Lake Qattina.