Mar 10, 2011

Syria - Hama/Aleppo

After the deserts of Jordan, the landscapes of northern Syria appeared really green. Cities like Aleppo and Hama are quite refreshing with their big parks.

In Aleppo

And Hama is famous for its wooden waterwheels in Al'Aassi (Orontes) river - the norias – which are part of an irrigation system and as old as the city itself. The walk along the river is very romantic by night!;) But one afternoon is enough to see the curiosities of this little town.

The four Norias

Al Maamoriye and Al Jisriye norias


From Hama, we visited two castles during a one-day trip.
Musyaf Citadel is known as the Assassin's Castle. After its seizing by the Cruisaders, this  fortress has been one of the main bastions of the mysterious Nizari Ismailis, a Shiite Muslim sect, more known as the Order of the Assassins!

According to the explorer Marco Polo, the name Assassin's comes from the word haschichiyoun, consumers of haschisch. Others claim that the Assassiyoun (the Assassins) are those faithful to the Asãs, the "foundation" of the faith. This order, as the legend says, was founded by Hassan Sabbah in the mountain stronghold of Alamut, in Iran and became very famous for its public, plannified and perfectly executed assassinations. 

Citadel and view on the city of Musyaf

We went also near the Lebanon border to visit one of the star attraction of every travel in Syria, the Krak des Chevaliers (in French, please). The "finest castle in the world" according to TE Lawrence and one of the most famous medieval citadel is really imposing thanks to its size and very good state of conservation. It was nearly impossible to take over this citadel of 3.000 square meters which could host 5.000 soldiers with their horses and equipment for five years without any supplies.


 The famous Aleppo soap!!

We knew Aleppo, Syria's second city, for its olive oil soap. We descovered a charming city, which is said to be the oldest continually inhabited city of the world. In fact this title is disputed with Damascus.
Aleppo's souk, covered for more than ten kilometres, is very typical and lively. Al Jdaideh, the Christian (Greek orthodox, Maronites, Armenians, etc.) area is also dedicated to shopping. Actually Aleppo was one stop on the Silk Road (with Damascus and Palmyra).

The souk on Fridays..

 .. the souk during the other days

Handicraft souk

As we experienced, visiting the Citadel of Aleppo is very popular on Fridays. On the top of the hill, the very well preserved fortifications surround a fantastic playground for children with ruins and crenellated walls to climb!

The entrance of the Citadel (stairs on the right)

On our first days in Syria we were happily surprised by the attitude of people in the street toward us. Very often children as well as adults come to us trying to say a few words in English or even in French! 
For example, we had a  funny meeting at Aleppo's Great Mosque when a family approached us in French and asked for a picture of Axelle with their little baby. Ask is a very gentle word because they just pushed the baby into Axelle's arms!! So we took a picture as well...


  1. C'est super beau! gros bisous d'Haïti! Claire

  2. Coucou les jeunes,
    Je ne savais pas que vous reveniez avec un petit bébé... Axelle, ça te va très bien.
    Gros bisous