One of the most attractive residential buildings in Syria is Qasr al-Azem (قصر العظم) of Hama (حماة). It was constructed in 1740 as the residence of Assad Basha al-Azem (أسعد باشا العظم), an Ottoman governor of the city. Only three years later he was promoted to governor of Damascus (دمشق), where he built the more well-known palace of the same name. While the building was significantly damaged during the 1982 conflict between the Syrian government and the Muslim Brotherhood, it has been carefully restored and today represents the most impressive historic residence in Hama (حماة).
The palace complex was built around three courtyards. The largest courtyard is shaded by several trees and features a sizable central fountain and an iwan on the southern side. On the eastern side, a staircase leads to second floor courtyard with the dramatic façade of the main reception hall, preceded by an arched portico. The reception hall features beautiful painted woodwork, patterned marble, alternating bands of black and white stone, and is topped by a large dome. The third courtyard, on the northwestern side of the residence, includes particularly detailed stone carved decoration. This was originally the haramlek, or the family quarters, and an impressive private hammam (bath) is attached to the south. Today, the palace houses the Museum of Popular Traditions (متحف التقاليد الشعبية) and several rooms throughout the complex are decorated with displays of traditional life in Syria. There is a modest entrance fee to visit.
Getting There: Hama (حماة) is one of Syria’s largest cities and has frequent bus connections with Damascus (دمشق) and Aleppo (حلب), with less frequent buses traveling between Hama (حماة) and Tartus (طرطوس), Lattakia (اللاذقية), al-Raqqa (الرقة) and Deir al-Zur (دير الزور). Microbuses travel between Hama (حماة) and Homs (حمص) every few minutes. Qasr al-Azem (قصر العظم) is located in the old city, on the western side of the Orontes (العاصي) river. It is approximately two hundred meters south-southeast of al-Nuri Mosque (جامع النوري).
Coordinates: 35°08’02.00″N / 36°45’13.00″E
Transliteration Variants: Qasr al-Azam, Qasr al-Azm
Rating: (7 / 10)