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Talkalkh: City of Splendor

   Due to its charming green nature and fascinating climate, Talkalkh become visitors, tourists and travel lovers interface. It was named after “Alkalkh” plant which is famous and widely spread in this region; but died out as a  result of massive fire breaking out the hill when bombed by Allies planes.

   Talkalkh Located at the foot of a northern rough basaltic hill overlooking Homs was initially on Tripoli itinerary; about 45 kilometers away from Homs and one of the largest administrative areas, where a large number of districts and towns are affiliated to. It was actually founded during the French occupation of Syria, when the French mandate abolished the government administration of Al-Hoson castle moving it to Talkalkh at a special building “al-Saraya” which is still standing. It is characterized by distinctive palaces built with basaltic carved stones and  its stairs-like homes which are built on the hill.

It a city also famous for  breeding Arabian horses. The French named the city's horses “crack” due to their speed and agility. The horse image adorning the Syrian currency is Talkalkh people proudness as it represent a  Talkalkhian horse, being the most beautiful one in the region at that time. For that reason French soldiers took it with them to France after evacuation.

For a long time the hill was a gathering site for Arab tribes. Talkalkh people heroic history started when they bravely fought against the French occupation; when in December 1919 French  forces insisted on raising the French flag up the Government House “al-Saraya” since it was affiliated to the coastal zone, which was occupied by France. Whereas, Talkalkh inhabitants vowed to join their city and its rural surroundings to the state. Therefore, several clashes arose between residents and French forces. The people's struggle against the occupation forces continued until early 1920, where the French troops forced the rebel leaders to move to Homs and Damascus.

In the past, the city’s people used to drink from the  widely spread fresh water springs  such as: “Pasha” spring and springs of “Um Ali’ and “al-Jarab”. In addition to “Almtarb” (glee) spring, so- called for the joy and gladness given by musicals  held next to.

Thanks to the city's fascinating nature, a number of tourist services , restaurants and parks were established in various regions of Talkalkh.

Amal Farhat

Al-Mzieneh : Wonderful Scenery

Al-Mzieneh is one of the most beautiful areas of al-Nadarah Village in Homs. It is  located on the foot of a mountain overlooking the fertile plain of Beki'a. It is about 10 kilometers  away from al-Krak des Chevaliers (Hoson Castle).

More than 4,000 inhabitants live in the village, whereas a great number of  its people used to emigrate to earn living . Their oldest emigration was to Brazil in 1887.

Education sector in the village has received special interest  since the early beginning of the twentieth Century. In 1915, a Russian school was opened  in the village. Teaching  in this school  was  in Arabic. Later the school was turned into an official school during the French mandate in 1921. A large number of educated people graduated from this school. In 1952, Alhosniah school was opened with the contribution of the village people.  The school was moved later to al-Hawash village. Then an official secondary school was opened in 1962.  A large number of educated, university professors and specialists in scientific research, doctors and engineers graduated from this school.

 The main economic activities of Al-Mzieneh people  depend on the cultivation of olives, grapevines, citrus and some winter crops such as wheat and barley. A dam, known as al-Mzeineh dam, was built in the village in 2003 with a capacity of 19 million cubic meters of water.

Amal Farhat 

Al-Nadarah Valley, Tourist Gate of Syria's Central Region

It's mild climate, charming nature, high mountains and picturesque valleys make it one of the most fascinating areas in western  Homs.  Al-Nadarah Valley with the other neighboring villages  such as al-Hawash, al-Mzieneh, Marmarita, Almshteih, Nasera, Kafrah and Ein el-Bardeh (the Cold Spring), which are located on tops of mountains and in valleys, create charming series of natural resorts that attracts tourists, nature lovers and rest seekers  from inside and outside Syria.

In winter, the people here experience very hard climate of cold and heavy rain that ensures them great amount of water in the dams, which are distributed in the region such as al-  Mzieneh Dam, which was setup on the River Rawel. This dam helps people to benefit from the Heaven's gift to irrigate the agricultural lands in Summer, in addition to its being  a wonderful park for visitors where a number of beautiful restaurants were erected.

Besides its fresh springs, healthy air and charming nature, al-Nadarah Valley enjoys a lot of important tourist components. The Valley contains a number of  archaeological and religious sites. The most famous is al-Hoson Castle, which is considered the most famous medieval castle which is  mostly toured by visitors from all over the world in addition to the monastery of Mar Gergios in Almsteih which overlooks the castle and surrounded by  forest, which is one of the important symbols of religious tourism in Syria.

Al- Faouar spring is a natural phenomenon that confused all  visitors who tour the area waiting for the effervescence of its water.

A lot of restaurants and parks, hotels and resorts have been erected next to the wonderful spring and the neighboring areas  where several musical festivals are held in August every year.

There is also a relics of an old church that has been recently restored where a large statue of the Virgin Mary is placed. The statue looks like the one in Harissa in Lebanon.

Several studies and plans are set for developing the castle and the valley so as to preserve the historical heritage of the area  in order to be a center for recreation and for natural,  historical and religious tourism, as well as a special agricultural area.

In a step to promote tourism and attract more Arab and foreign tourists, Al-Nadarah Valley hosts several festivals every year such as "the Castle and the Valley" Festival which is held at al-Hoson Castle's amphitheater  that can accommodate two thousand people.

Amal Farhat

The City of Al-Qseir

"Al-Qsier" name comes from the fact that this city had been a hotbed for deer in the past. Since its very beginning,  the city did not suffer any kind of persecution  and its people did not experience feudalism. The city’s inhabitants were the actual owners of their land.

Thanks to al-Assi River which runs through its lands, the city flourished as people began to cultivate their lands, as well as houses increased. Throughout its history al-Qsier has hosted many of the princes and kings, the most important  was  the campaign of  "Muhammad Ali Pasha" to the Levant, led by his son, "Ibrahim Pasha".  As a result many Egyptian families stayed in  " al-Qsier " after the campaign to the Levant because of their love for this city.

The city's population reaches to 42 thousand. More than 40 villages are administratively  affiliated to the city.  It is linked with  "Homs" via  transportation routes that ensure the city's residents a direct contact with the rest of the villages. In  the past,  there was  a significant railway station which linked Syria with Lebanon through "Riyaq – Aleppo" railway. But after the outbreak of the Lebanese civil war all journeys via this line were stopped.

Because of  its climate and the fertility of the land,  al-Qsier people produce various kinds of agricultural crops.  Apples, apricots, wheat and barley which has its own features , in addition to various kinds of olive trees growing  in this area justifying  the large number of olive presses in al-Qsier.

Al-Qsier  contains many  significant  archaeological sites  such as the Romanian  mill of  "Om al-Ragheef", and  the “Arch” which is a  famous archaeological site that also dated back  to the Roman history.  The archaeological city of "Jose", and Prophet Mando Tel, what is called "Kadesh, " are also among  the important archeological sites . There is also the  newly discovered cave of  "Zeta" which dates back , according to scientists, to more than 80 million years .

Amal Farhat

Krak des Chevaliers

The Krak des Chevaliers (French for "Fortress of Knights"; Arabic: Qala'at Al-Hosn) near Homs in Syria is a popular tourist destination that was declared a World Heritage Site in 2006. Author Paul Theroux described it as the dream castle of childhood fantasies, while T.E. Lawrence called it "the finest castle in the world".

The remarkably well-preserved Crusader castle looks almost exactly as it did during the Crusades. Built and expanded between 1150 and 1250, it eventually housed a garrison of 2000. The castle guarded the only major pass between Antioch and Beirut in Lebanon. It held out against several attacks, but was lost to the Mamluk Sultan Beybar in 1271.

The castle has two parts: an outside wall with 13 towers and an inside wall and keep. The two are separated by a moat which was used to fill the baths and water the horses, but is now full of stagnant water.

Through the main entrance (an imposing gate in the 16ft-thick wall) and past the towers that defended the castle is a courtyard. A corridor covered in delicate carvings leads to a large vaulted hall containing an old oven, a well and some latrines.

The chapel in the courtyard was converted to a mosque at the hands of  Sultan Beybar .

The top floor of the Tower of the Daughter of the King is home to a café with great views.

Source: Sacred Destination

N.H.Khider