Homs (UK: , US: ; Arabic: حمص / ALA-LC: Ḥimṣ [ħɪmsˤ]; Levantine Arabic: حمص / Ḥumṣ [ħɔmsˤ]), previously known as Emisa or Emesa (; Ancient Greek: Ἔμεσα, romanized: Émesa), 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. Before the Syrian Civil War, Homs was a major industrial centre, and with a population of at least 652,609 people in 2004, it was the third-largest city in Syria after Aleppo to the north and the capital Damascus to the south. Its population reflects Syria's general religious diversity, composed of Sunni and Alawite Muslims, and Christians. There are a number of historic mosques and churches in the city, and it is close to the Krak des Chevaliers castle, a World Heritage Site. 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 Emesene 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.