Hama is famous all over the Middle East for its huge water wheels or norias. Readers who have visited Cordoba in Spain may have seen one such wheel, quite derelict, in the river there.

In Hama, the earliest wheels, built for irrigation, were recorded in the 4th century AD.

The wheels still here today were originally constructed in the 13th century when around 30 norias were built of which 17 survive.

Needless to say they have been much repaired and refurbished over the centuries.

They all have names although, due to lack of signs in English, we can’t tell you what the one in the photo is called.

Sadly they weren’t turning when this photo was taken.

Apparently the Orontes River has now been dammed north of Hama and the wheels only turn when sufficient water is released from the dam.

This does happen quite regularly (you have to keep your tourists happy) so we have fingers crossed the wheels may turn for us in the next couple of days. We’ll be sure to let you know.

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