Hama is located north of Homs on the Orontes River. Unlike Homs, Hama situates itself on the river, as it is a vital lifeline to the city that borders the desert. Its archeological history dates back to the fifth millennium with Neolithic and Chalcolthic ruins within the citadel mound. It was a central city to several kingdoms including: Mitannian, Aramaean, Assyrian and Roman.
In 636 when Arab Muslims took over Hama and the subsequent Islamic empires influenced the development of the city's urban and architectural form - as it became a famous manufacturer of silk and major trade center on caravan routes. The city's unique geographic location, on the Orontes while facing the desert, created a distinctive architectural form. The open streets and riverside houses expose gardens and shaded terraces into public realms while interiors enclose private spaces from the harsh environment on the edges.
The buildings of Hama are similar to the stone ones of Aleppo, particularly the Ottoman structures. The many important architectural sites of Hama include: the Roman water wheels and aqueducts, Jami' Hama al-Kabir (the Great Mosque, founded in 636-7), and the 18th century Ottoman Azem Palace. These sites in addition to smaller mosques and khans form the city that occupies the heart of Syria.
Sources: Ball, Warwick. Syria A Historical and Architectural Guide. New York: Interlink Books, 1994.