Photo Friday, Syria

Photo Friday #10: Syria

August 27, 2010

The ruins of Apamea, Syria

The ruins of Apamea, Syria

On one of our day trips from Hama, Syria, we visited the lonely and windswept hilltop ruins of the city of Apamea. Founded in 300BC, the city became part of the Roman Empire around 64BC and played host to distinguished guests like Cleopatra. Today, excavations have revealed the high columns that once lined the Roman cardo where the marks from horse drawn carriages are still visible etched in the stone path.

The history of the site is written on a series of chalkboards at the entrance, but whether or not we were looking at the ruins of a roman bath or some kind of shop front were not what was exciting about the site. Our group of four and one other traveller were the only visitors, and watching a storm roll in over the beautifully desolate valley below was just as interesting and atmospheric, if not more so, than ancient piles of stones.

For more on my time in Syria, check out the Syrian posts in the archives.

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  • Reply Ayngelina August 27, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    I really want to go to Syria but I think it may have to wait for another trip as I heard you have to get a government-approved tour agency to get a visa. But the ruins looks amazing so it's definitely on my list.

    • Reply Megan September 1, 2010 at 8:34 am

      I think it's actually much easier now than it was six months ago – I'd heard that you couldn't get visas on the border between Turkey and Syria, but the three others on our bus (japanese and US passport holders) got them with no troubles.

      I got my visa in Sydney, and Alicia got hers in Istanbul – so if you're headed to Turkey, I'd look into it, especially if you want to go onwards to Jordan.

      • Reply Megan September 1, 2010 at 8:37 am

        Also, should add – if you do end up getting a Syrian visa, try and get a multi entry, especially if you want to go to Lebanon. You can get a Lebanese visa on the border, but you can't get one crossing back into Syria, which you need to do unless you're flying out of Beirut.

  • Reply Mary R September 1, 2010 at 5:48 am

    I'm sure that changing sky in a place like that is really amazing. It usually is in the open desert… was this a tour you went on? I've been interested in this part of the world, but after my Egypt trip don't feel so comfortable going independent.

    • Reply Megan September 1, 2010 at 8:37 am

      Syria and Jordan were super easy to visit independently. Public transport was simple and cheap, and the guesthouses all offered day tours – that's how we managed to get to most of the sites. Basically, the guesthouse will organise a car and driver for you for the day, and the more travellers you have the cheaper it is. We did this maybe three or four times, and each time we had a full car, and it never cost more than around $15 – $20.

      Syria and Jordan are so different to Egypt – everyone is curious and super friendly, and not out to scam you at any chance. Highly recommend both countries! We heard great things about Lebanon, too (apparently Beirut is a cross between Miami and Paris…!!) but unfortunately weren't able to make the short trip across the border due to my friend not having a multi entry visa for Syria.

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