Syrian Kaleidoscope(Amrit, St George, Crac des Chevaliers, Apamea,Hama)

A short drive away from Tartous is the ancient site of Amrit. Dating back to the Phoenicians, Amrit are the remains of the city of Marathus and was probably founded by the Arvadians in the 3rd millennium BC flourishing economically as a mainland religious centre and a trading city.

Most of the remaining buildings date back to Persian rule in the 6th century BC although there is Mesopotamian and Egyptian influence in the architecture.

Captured by Alexander the Great in 333BC its main religious temple which was dedicated to the God Melqart was assimilated to the God Hercules.

An artificial lake around the temple filled by a natural spring was said to have healing powers.

A stadium on the other side of Amrit River dates back to the Hellenistic period. One of the two cylindrical towers called Maghazel (spindles) decorating the necropolis has uncompleted sculptures of lions at the base reflecting Persian influence.

Burj al Bezzaq (tower of the snail), another funerary monument is a cube topped by a cornice which used to end with a pyramid.

Amrit lost its importance in the 2nd century AD under the Romans who preferred Antaradus (Tartous) on the Mediterranean.

St George's convent was built by hermits in the late 5th century; some believe it was constructed under Emperor Justinian in the 6th century. Parts of the convent were completed in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.

It contains the shrine of St George built in the 5th century. The convent has been a centre for the Greek Orthodox faith since the beginning of Christianity. Its 13th century chapel contains an ebony iconostasis with many beautiful icons on display. A second chapel was built in 1857.

Crac des Chevaliers is the greatest of all Crusader castles and one of the greatest sights of Syria described by T E Lawrence as ‘perhaps the best preserved and most wholly admirable castle in the world’.

Here, all that was best in both European and Middle Eastern military design combined to produce a castle. Without doubt, it is one of the greatest masterpieces of military architecture in the world showing the full flowering of the Hospitallers’ style (knights of St. John), which went far beyond the stolid adaptations of Byzantine models that had previously influenced the castles of the first half of the 12th century.

Enjoy a tasty Syrian lunch at a local restaurant with panoramic views of the castle and continue to Apamea.

Apamea overlooks the Ghaab plain, located on the right bank of the Orontes River about 55 km northwest of Hama town. It was built by Seleucus Nikator, the first king of the Seleucids in Syria in 300 B.C naming it after his wife Afamia. The city flourished attracting distinguished visitors such as Cleopatra, Septimus Severus and Emperor Caracalla.

Its population numbered half a million. In the Christian era Apamea became a centre of philosophy and thought. Most of the uncovered ruins date back to the Roman and Byzantine ages. Distinguished for its high walls and main thoroughfare surrounded by columns with twisted fluting the street was about 2km long and 87m wide.

The ruins of the Roman theatre are now a great mass of stone, its colonnade 145 m long. Erected in the 2nd century, it was destroyed in the 12th century by two violent earthquakes but some columns are still standing.

Hama is one of the most attractive Syrian towns notable for its wooden wheels called Norias, which draw water from the Orontes River. An old town dating back to Neolithic times with picturesque old quarters and orchards.

The Norias are undershot Vitruvian water wheels raising water from a pool or a well to a channel or a cistern above, using a very ancient technique.


Special Notes:
Tour not wheelchair accessible nor for persons with restricted walking.

Comfortable clothing, walking shoes, hat, recommended.

A considerable amount of walking is involved on uneven ground and ruined passages at all sites.

A lot of stairs and uphill walk on cobblestones at Crac.

Rough, overgrown ground at Amrit.

Several stairs at the convent.

Comfort stops available at the restaurant, convent, castle and Apamea.


Tour Timings:

Tours begin at times suitable for the ship's arrival in port. The breakdown of the excursions is as follows:
00hr00 -> Depart from Tartous Port

00hr00 -> 00hr30 Drive to Amrit
00hr30 -> 01hr30 Visit Amrit
01hr30 -> 02hr15 Drive to St George convent
02hr15 -> 03hr00 Visit the convent
03hr00 -> 03hr30 Drive to Crac des Chevaliers
03hr30 -> 05hr00 Visit the castle
05hr00 -> 05hr10 Drive to restaurant
05hr10 -> 06hr10 Serving lunch
06hr10 -> 07hr40 Drive to Apamea
07hr40 -> 09hr00 Visit Apamea
09hr00 -> 09hr30 Drive to Hama
09hr30 -> 10hr00 Viewing water wheels of Hama

10hr00 -> 11hr30 Drive to Tartous



Tour Details

Tour Name:
Syrian Kaleidoscope(Amrit, St George, Crac des Chevaliers, Apamea,Hama)

Sightseeing Shore Tours
Cultural Shore Tours

Tour ID:

Approximately 11hr30

medium excursionmeal included with tour

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