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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hama and the Water Wheels

Water wheel behind hotel in Hama

Water wheel

View from roof of hotel

Water wheel and aqueduct

April 19

Drove south  then took some roads to the west looking for the Dead Cities. The Dead Cities are ancient towns that were part of the area of the Byzantine Christian city of Antioch and were abandoned around fifteen centuries ago. There are supposedly over 600 sites in an area of maybe 50 by 50 miles. We have three maps but once off the main road they don't seem to agree with each other on the roads of the area on even the name of the numerous small towns in the area. In theory you just follow one road from the highway for about twenty miles then turn left for a few more miles. The problem is that all the roads curve around to little villages to say nothing about the forks in the road and the T intersections. We drove for almost two hours. totally lost, then saw the first of the Dead Cities. There were numerous large buildings and churches built out of very large stone blocks some of them had elaborate  carvings. We then spent a lot of time finding our way back to the highway and drove to Hama. Hama is famous for its large wood waterwheels on the river. There are several that raise water from the river to aqueducts to bring water to town. The largest are over five stories tall and there design goes back to the thirteenth century.
Hama is also infamous for the massacre of 1982 where 10,000 to 25,000 people were killed during a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood. History continues as it was reported that 29 people were killed in demonstrations about fifteen miles south of here yesterday. When we walked into town we saw a funeral at the Mosque behind the hotel with the members carrying the body through town. It is peaceful here but very few tourists. Our hotel is eleven stories but we have seen no other guests but there were a few tourists down by the waterwheels.
We did get to the roof to photograph the the town, apparently not allowed as the manager questioned us after we got down and told no photographs without his permission.

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