As Tourist In Homs, From The Most Devastated City In Syria And Back To Normal Life.

Homs was the city where the war in Syria started for full when the so-called moderate opposition killed 10 Syrian Army soldiers at a checkpoint and captured another 19 soldiers. Government forces began an artillery bombardment of the city of Homs on the night of 3 February 2012.

The protests started in the southern city of Daraa on March the 15th. But it was in Homs where it escalated and went from protests to a war.

The main square in Homs is cleaned up.

Watch This 3min long video I made from my trip to Syria.

Around 70% of Homs was destroyed before the city was back under Government control. Homs is the city where you will see the most destruction in Syria, but rebuilding has started and even the old Souq (market) that was completely destroyed during some of the heaviest battles during the war, is very soon ready to reopen. A few shops are up and running already, and all others are soon to follow.

The Old Homs Souq is almost ready for reopening
Some Parts of the Old Souq are already open after aid from UN

Some shops are already open.
Nature Taking over the broken part of Homs.
A waving and cheering taxi driver.
Homs
One of the areas with almost complete destruction.
Homs
There´s cleanup happening all over the destroyed areas.
Families have started moving back to rebuild their homes
The Kids still have smiles on their faces.
The Kids are the biggest victims of every war.

Normal life in Homs is returning back to normal with the city getting rebuild fast; kids are back to schools, traditional restaurants are open, locals have started to move back and rebuild their homes, and shashlik stands are filling the street with the great smell of bbq.

Street BBQs are back on the streets.
Two young girls waiting for their dad at the Shaslki stand.

But Homs is also the city where you will hear the most disturbing tales from the locals, as for months they had to live under rebels rules.
The stories contain, rapes, decapitations, abductions of their kids, and in general things that make even the worst horror movie seem like a romantic date movie.

And one of the places with a lot of sorrow is the primary school where close to 50 school kids got killed by a double suicide bomb, the first bomb went off at the school’s gate, then when people rushed to help a second bomb went off at the Akrameh al-Makhzumi school.

The school is today completely rebuilt and up and running, and the bomb remains and damage of the school is positively being used by the students in an art project for a better future.

School children in Homs.
Young student
Boys and girls in the same classes.

Education in Syria is completely free and compulsory from the age of 6 to 15 (1st to 9th grade). English and French are taught from 1st grade, and for the young students, I met their English skill was very impressive and far ahead of the students back in my home country Norway.
If parents deny their kids education, they you be sentenced to 6 months in jail.

A beautiful female teacher.
A beautiful teacher.
Another beautiful teacher.
The Teachers Lounge.

While the outskirts of Homs is still almost completely devastated so has the center of Homs returned so somewhat normal life again, with locals enjoying shopping, shisha at street cafes, young couples holding hands, and young men watching European football on the big screens. Even I did some shopping here, I bought two nice shirts.

A beautiful girl on the streets of Homs.
Another pretty girl.


So you can see that even the most devastated city in Syria is returning to normal, do you still believe mainstream media claiming that Syria is a country in Ruins??

Before the war, Homs was the starting point to the amazing Crusader Castle Krak des Chevaliers from the 11th century and The Valley Of Christians home to the famous Saint Georgie Monastery and the villages surrounding the valley being home to more than 200 000 Christians in Syria.  I did visit both Krak des Chevaliers and the Valley of Christians during my visit to Syria.

10 Comments
  1. It’s wonderful to get your unbiased reports from Syria – even more wonderful to see that the country is returning to normal so quickly.
    But please, tell us, are there places where backpackers on a budget can stay? In Homs, but also in Aleppo and Damascus.
    And did you go to Palmyra?
    Please don’t stop with your report – it’s very much needed.

    1. Hey Sian.
      Coz of the heavy inflation on the Syrian currency so is Syria extremely cheap for foreigners. Before the war was 1 USD = 50 Syrian Pound, NOW 1 USD = 515 Syrian Pound.
      So Syria is currently one of the cheapest countries in the world for foreigners, and on the other hand very expensive for locals.
      A 5* star hotel including breakfast is no more than 70Usd now, and you can easily find accommodation for around 5-10 USD a night to, almost all guesthouses that were open before the war is still open. A German friend is currently renting a flat for 100Usd a month in Damascus. I will most likely post from Palmyra to yes.

  2. Great thanks, Christian!
    Your pictures are truly moving.
    I will bring a report from your site and your pictures in next weeks (before the christmas days).

    Kind Regards from Dresden in Germany

  3. Hi Chris!
    Great travel report. How do you get there to Syria? Via Jordan? By bus or taxi? Are there any entrance restictions? Do you need a Visa? Did you contact the syrian embassy before you started? I am thinking about going there as well. At least to get a glimpse to Damascus. I visited Jordan 5 years ago and was really fascinated by the country. Did you hire a translator or can you speak Arab?

    Best regards
    Oliver

    1. Heey Oliver.
      Sorry for the late reply.

      I took a shared taxi from Beirut to my hotel in Damascus, your hotel in Beirut can arrange it, It´s 100 Usd for a private taxi, or 44usd if you want to take a shared one. I saw buses on the way but I have no idea where to take it from. Yes you NEED a visa, it takes up to 10weeks to receive and it requires some paperwork. When you receive the visa will you have no restrictions, you can travel about everywhere that´s under government control except to the frontline. You are completely free to walk around Damascus and other places. There´s no need for a translator, almost “everyone” speaks English or French.

      Even shopkeepers, taxi drivers at least understand basic English and every restaurant I went to had English menus. School Children in Syria learn English, French & Arabic from 1st grade so you will be surprised how easy it is to speak with locals in Syria.

  4. Hi there,

    I have sent a request for a visa to the embassy of Syria in Belgium last month.
    Still no reply… Did they confirm your visa request, did you get any reply before getting your visa at the end ?
    I really hope they’ll grant me a visa by the end of january…

    Kind regards

    1. Heeey.
      I didn’t hear anything from the embassy before it was approved, nothing at all. Then suddenly one day I checked my Email and yeah visa was approved after almost 10weeks of waiting. So you just have to be patient and wait, everyone else I know that received their visa also didn’t get any emails from the approval email.

      Christian

    1. It might depend on the embassy yes. And of course the situation in the country, I got told while in Syria but the visa will get easier to get from 2018 and that a few European tour companies will start bringing tourist back in next year.

  5. Hi Christian,

    I am a Homsi Syrian (Homsi means I’m from Homs) and I really like how you present my city and the rest of Syria. I miss Homs so much. However, you have some wrong info about the city. Homs was destroyed by the Syrian regime, not by the rebels. Even some of my relatives were killed, and some of our properties there have been destroyed or damaged. The rebels started only as defenders of peaceful demonstrations, when the regime was attacking and killing innocent people and kids just because they were protesting in peaceful demonstrations, and it killed people who didn’t protest as well. Random killing! By the way, rebels doesn’t mean terrorists, and they are not all Muslims.. Some of the rebels were Christians! I wonder if you’ve visited Saint Mary Church in Homs, where there is only a small wall separating a mosque and a church. Saint Mary Church, which is a very important church in Christianity as far as I know, was damaged by the regime as well. ISIS is a different thing than rebels or the Free Syrian Army, too.

    Of course, I wish this whole revolution hadn’t started, but it’s also oppressing to say that the rebels, who are the Homsi people themselves, destroyed Homs. Hope you don’t get me wrong.

    I was planning to soon get back to live in my hometown Homs, and you actually encouraged me! Thanks for that.

    Warm regards

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