(Continued from “My Journey Through Syria in 2011 – Aleppo“)
I spent a few nights in Hama, arriving from Damascus by bus. Again the time period was May of 2011. I intended to stop here to take a day trip to the well-known Crac des Chevaliers castle just west of Hama. At the hotel there was just one other tourist, a young man from Japan. The hotel owner spoke fluent English and was really helpful in pointing out places of interest in the area. There were curfews after about 9 PM due to rising tensions. This was around the beginning of the disaster that would soon unfold over Syria. There were no violence, protests, or rallies in Hama at the time – just an atmosphere of concern. There had been skirmishes in Daraa, which is in the southwestern portion of the country, that had killed scores of people. The owner was more cautious about the events going on unlike the owner of the hotel in Aleppo where I stayed previously. The Aleppo hotel owner had little concern about rising tensions and just brushed it off as something temporary.
The town of Hama had a sad history. Back in 1982 the elder Assad, Hafez, ordered the army to come into Hama and take on the Muslim Brotherhood which was opposed to the government. It was a bloody battle that killed thousands of citizens and destroyed much of the historic city center. Some remnants still remain however:
Inside a historic mosque:
Coming Up: Crac des Chevaliers and Damascus