The Orontes River (Al Asy) was of great importance to the growth and development of Hama through history. Like all other rivers in the world, it played a part in the irrigation of the fields surrounding it.
The Norias of Hama, which are some of the oldest waterwheels in the world, were first built by the Byzantines, as a system of irrigation. The Orontes walls were too deep for water to be transferred directly from the river, so gigantic waterwheels were designed and built in order to raise water from the river and drop it into ducts and canals that lead to the fields waiting to be irrigated.
There are 17 surviving Norias along the Orontes, and most of the existing Norias were rebuilt after the Byzantines by the Ayyubids.
Today, most of the Norias, although not in practical use, can be seen turning at a slow droning pace, from restaurants and cafes on the riverside.
Location: Hama, Syria