What a surprise to know that Homs is the second oldest city in Syria. It has always been in the shadow comparing to major cities as Damascus and Aleppo.
Everybody is familiar with Khalid ibn al-Walid Mosque which is located out of old city wall. But the buildings in the old city (such as mosques, churches, hammams, and exciting Ottoman markets which are known as bazaars) are barely known and not well maintained. The castle and the remaining parts of the old city wall show how important the city was in the past. The houses are huge in the old city, and the walls are made from black basalt and marked with white.
The most remarkable thing that I can still remember is the two great courtyards of Mufeed al-Ameen and al-Zahrawi’s houses, with the astonishing dooms over the open hall or what they call "Iwan", which date back to the 15th and 16th centuries...
Prof. Dr. Stefan Weber
Director of the Museum of Islamic ArtNational Museums of Berlin
When I first visited Homs as an archaeologist, not for shopping purposes as I used to do, I noticed that there is no over-decorated buildings in the old city like those in Damascus, Aleppo and other Syrian cities, which give them an identity of uniqueness. However the architectural style of the old city of Homs was simple without any fancy or artificial decoration. Its small houses of worship and the gates framed by stone blocks in basaltic black were simple. In the old city, schools were small, consisting of one or two classrooms. There were a limited number of hammams. Even the government buildings were simple, single-storey structures.
Despite this simplicity, I was fascinated by the peculiarity of both private and public buildings in the old city. They reflected a simple and beautiful taste, as well as the economic difficulties which the city had faced throughout its history.
As I was walking on the streets of the old city, I was attracted by the basalt and limestone gates and the facades embroidered with the rows of black and white stones.
I was surprised and discovered that I am standing in a unique city which reflects the civil life style of its people upon the harsh periods of their history. The architectural scene of the old city consists of homogenous and beautiful houses whose owners put a great effort to decorate and maintain them, using their own taste, but very neatly, so that they keep it in harmony with the overall surroundings. This is special because rather than Damascus for example, the old city of Homs was totally built by its people with the little resources they have at that time.
Homs is the most beautiful city because everyone visits this city can feel the spirit and the passion of people there.