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
Ball, Warwick. 1994. Syria A Historical and Architectural Guide. New York: Interlink Books, 97-99.