Homs, previously known as Emesa (Greek: Ἔμεσα, Emesa, is a city in western Syria and the capital of the Homs Governorate. It is 501 metres (1,644 ft) above sea level and is located 162 kilometres (101 mi) north of Damascus. Located on the Orontes River, Homs is also the central link between the interior cities and the Mediterranean coast.
Homs did not emerge into the historical record until the 1st century BCE at the time of the Seleucids. It later became the capital of a kingdom ruled by the Emesani dynasty who gave the city its name. Originally a center of worship for the sun god El-Gabal, it later gained importance in Christianity under the Byzantines. Homs was conquered by the Muslims in the 7th-century and made capital of a district that bore its current name. Throughout the Islamic era, Muslim dynasties contending for control of Syria sought after Homs due to the city's strategic position in the area. Homs began to decline under the Ottomans and only in the 19th century did the city regain its economic importance when its cotton industry boomed. During French Mandate rule, the city became a center of insurrection and, after independence in 1946, a center of Baathist resistance to the first Syrian governments. Homs has played a central role in the ongoing Syrian uprising against the Baathist government and since May 2011 has been under siege by the Syrian Army.
"Emesa" is a compound of "Ham-Es", with the Es representing an assemblage of the locally revered sun god in (El-Gabal) in ancient times. The name "Emesa" or "Hemesa" is also attributed to "Emesenoi", the name of the Arab tribe that ruled the area before its incorporation into the Roman Empire. When the name of the tribe became attached to the city is indiscernible, but is generally thought to have been used under the Romans.
"Emesa" was shortened to "Homs" or "Hims" by its Arab inhabitants, many of whom settled there prior to the Muslim conquest of Syria. This name has been