You would never guess from the plain entrance what lies inside. But this is the norm in Arab countries, high-walled plain exteriors hiding water-cooled courtyards and opulent interiors.

Azem Pasa was the Ottoman governor of Hama in the mid 18th century and he began work on this Palace which continued to be extended until the middle of then 19th.

It is divided into three: selamlik (reception rooms); haremlik (the women’s quarters; and a hamam. Each section has its own courtyard, all three with fountains.

Here is the women’s courtyard where some the trees were probably already here when the women of Azem Pasa’s household lounged by the fountain doing their embroidery, and gossiping the days away.

And just to show where the power and wealth lay in those days, the selamlik is entirely furnished with amazing inlaid pieces.