When talking about old cities and bazars, many go to speak about Damascus or Aleppo not realizing that Homs city also includes one of the oldest bazars in the country as well.
The ancient souk – or “roofed bazar” as locals like to call it- dates back to around 1500 years, it is the largest and oldest market in Homs, this souk is one of the most important archeological sites in the city.
Speaking to The National, Mr. Anis Nacrour the former EU representative in Damascus and who is originally from Homs said, “Forty years ago, it was the equivalent of the Champs-Elysees for a small town. You could find everyone there.” “In the evening, coming back from school, we’d pass through just to breathe the air, especially as there were excellent sweet shops and delicious fresh fruit juice stands,” Mr Nacrour said.
It is divided into various sections, shops, and handcrafts. Each division is named after its specialty, so you would find fabrics souk, perfumes souk, cupper souk, etc. All those are roofed in a dome-like shape, this is where it got its name. Due to the strategic location of Homs, this market was an essential stop for all commercial convoys. Throughout history it was damaged several times due to earthquakes and fires, however it retained its charm and significance in the social and economic life of the city and the region as well. With the beginning of war in Syria after 2011, it was destroyed, but with the great will of the inhabitants of the city, maintenance and repair works began to bring life back to this landmark, later governmental local, and international organizations joined in the restoration of the market.
“I reopened in April and you can’t imagine my delight when I saw my old clients coming back from Beirut, Damascus and Tartus,” said Mr Salqini, who inherited the chocolate shop from his father.
“I used to have 11 employees, but now it’s just me,” he said, admitting that he was only seeing two or three customers a day.
“Every holiday, I would come to town to buy chocolate from him,” said one customer, Um Mamoum.”But I hadn’t done so since the beginning of the war.”
Inhabitants of Homs keep are an amazing example to be followed, they never wait for anyone to solves their problems or bring life back to the city, they do it on their own, with their bare hands and lovely smiles. Today, Homs .. Tomorrow, all Syria will be restored.