Apamea (آفاميا‎)

Apamea is an Ancient town located 55 km (34 mi) North of Hama in Hama Governorate of Syria on the right bank of Orontes river in the Ghab Valley. It is less known than others ruins in Syria, but it is one of the best preserved in Syria.




Location: Hama Governorate        Map

Used: 300 BC- 1200AD


History of Apamea

The site of Apamea was occupied since the Hittite times and was known as Pharmake, but it was conquered during campaigns of Alexander of Macedon (the Great) in the 4th century. After the death of Alexander the Great his general Seleucus Nicator inherited this part of the expansive empire. Seleucus the first ruler of the Seleucid dynasty expanded the city and named it Afamea after his wife. Hellenistic influence shaped the outline and design of the city. It was considered one of the great four great cities, Syrian Tetrapolis of Apamea, Antioch, Seleucia Pieria and Laodicea.


In 64 BC Pompey led his Roman legions to capture the city in the name of the Roman Republic. The Syrians did not wait too long before revolting against new rulers. Under leadership of Caecilius Bassus they rebelled. Julius Caesar and Cassius crushed the defence in 46 BC. After becoming part of the Roman Empire it reached the height of its development housing over half a million residents. Among famous visitors to the site were legendary Egyptian Queen Cleopatra as well as Roman Emperor Septimus Severus and Emperor Caracalla. After December 13th, 115 then an earthquake destroyed much of the city, Roman Emperors Trajan and Hadrian took in their hands to remodel the city to fit the Imperial image of Rome. In the 7th century Persian king Chosroes I seized opportunity to attack the Eastern borders of the Eastern Roman/ Byzantine Empire while much of its forces fought wars in the Western Mediterranean. He captured the city and plundered many of its riches. The city was greatly damaged during earthquake in the 12th century and the site was completely abandoned in the 13th century.


The main street of the city is surrounded by two rows of columns with a width of 87 meters and extends for 1850 meters. It runs in direction North- South and was an extension of the road that led from Antioch to the Southern Syria. Apamea once housed a temple to Zeus Belos. Emperor Septimius Severus consulted with the oracle of the pagan temple before starting his campaign against the Parthian Empire. The structure was destroyed in 384 AD by Emperor Theodosius after bishop of the city asked him to get rid of it. To the west of the stands Kalat el- Mudik (Qulaat al- Moudiq, Kŭlat el-Mudîk) fortress on the site of ancient acropolis. It was a site of fierce battles between Muslim forces and the Crusaders in the 12th century. The easiest way to get to the ruins is by hiring a driver. Fare is best discussed before the trip and paying the full price before hand is not suggested.