The old town was badly damaged when the Assad regime put down the uprising by the Muslim Brotherhood in 1982, but what is left of it still retains plenty of charm. The noria are large waterwheels that used to lift water from the Orontes River into a system of aqueducts that supplied the city and adjacent farmland. The wheels themselves have been restored, even if the (now thoroughly cleaned up) remaining sections of aqueduct are no longer in use. They are very impressive, and there are lots of pleasant gardens where you can sit close to them and have a coffee or snack. All in all, a fascinating and unexpectedly beautiful sight.
Just head for the town centre.
Though part of the Apamea Cham Hotel, it is located on the other side of the road, with spectacular views of four of the noria water wheels which moan as they turn, and its independent access means that most diners at night come from outside the hotel.
The menu is varied (the only non-expensive place in Syria where I found fish available) and prices are very reasonable for excellent cooking. Beer and spirits are served. The only downside is that you are sitting on one of the key sites of the dramatic suppression of the 1982 Hama uprising.
To the north of the centre of Hama, on the east side of the Orontes river and adjacent to Apamea Cham Hotel. Open for dinner, but not necessarily for lunch.
Rated three-star, and accessed rather unattractively by lift from a dingy corridor near the clock tower in the centre of Hama, this well located hotel is distinguished by exceptionally helpful staff. When asking where I might buy a replacement camera case, they arranged for one of the staff who is a tailor by day to stitch my broken strap.
Very good at arranging day trips to sites such as Apamea and Krak des Chavaliers, and working out how you might share with other visitors or those staying at the Cairo hotel which the management also owns. Taxi from the bus station should be 50 Syrian pounds.
tel (33) 512414
Send your feedback or queries to firstname.lastname@example.org