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The city is 200 km to the north of Damascus and 60 km to the east of Banyas. It is a very ancient city, which has flourished continually since ancient times, and has known the successive civilizations of the Fertile Crescent.
Hama has a long heroic history in defending Syria against foreign invasions. One of the outstanding battles was that of Qarqar, where the Assyrian army was defeated in 853 B.C. Unfortunately, few of its ancient relics have been preserved. However, Hama is well known for its enormous waterwheels ("noriahs") on the Orontes, which are as old as Hama itself.

One of Hama's ancient building is al-Jami' al-Kabir (the Great Mosque), which dates back to the 14th century and includes two tombs of two emirs who ruled Hama in the 13th century. Another mosque is that of Abu al-Fida, named after Hama's Sultan, who was a famous Arab geographer and historian. The city is often linked with his name. A third ancient mosque is the al-Nuri mosque, which was built in the days of Noureddin al-Zanki in 1129; on its wall appear inscriptions in both Arabic and Greek. Hama is particularly famous for its traditional industries, especially textiles and cotton cloth