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Homs and Krak des Chevalliers

The girl I was staying with in Damascus was gonna have a dance show in Homs, and I was lucky enough to come with her.

The drive into the city was heart breaking, as Homs is possibly the city in Syria with the most destruction. I was also told that this is where the war really started, going from peaceful protests to bombings.

The city itself was not that impressive. The castle in the mid city was completely destroyed a long time ago, but the top was a good place to get an overview of the city. A lot of the thousands of years old souq (market) had also been destroyed during the war but had now been rebuilt and business was going on as usual.

The church of the Virgin lady girdle

One of the citys most famous sights is the Virgin lady Church is one of the oldest in the World, built in year 59AD. It was later named the lady of the Girdle (Om-Al-Zenar) when the holy Girdle of Virgin Mary was placed there. The church has been protected throughout the war, whereas just few meters away marks the beginning point of kilometers of bombed buildings.

50 kilometers from Homs there is a castle called Krak des Chevalliers. It was built in the 11th century by the Kurds, and given to the templar knights in 1143 who ruled it before the Mamluk captured it about a hundred years later. It was later held by the Ottomans and during the war from 2012-2014 it was held by terrorists (Syrian opposition).

The construction and architecture of the castle was incredible. When the Mamluk came, they managed to captured the outer castle and holding this for six months while the templar knights still had the inner castle. There were so many smart defense solutions that made the inner castle almost impenetrable, so reason for surrendering was not fighting, but starvation.