Apamea, on the right bank of the Orontes River, was a treasure city and stud-depot of the Seleucid kings, and was the capital of Apamene. (Stephanus of Byzantium s. v.; Strabo xvi. p. 752; Ptolemy v. 15. § 19; Festus Avienus, v. 1083; Anton. Itin.; Hierocles). Its site is found about 55 km (34 mi) to the northwest of Hama, Syria, overlooking the Ghab valley. Previously known as Pharmake, it was fortified and enlarged by Seleucus I Nicator in 300 BC, who so named it after his Bactrian wife, Apama – not his mother, as Stephanus asserts (compare Strabo, p. 578).
In pursuance of his policy of Hellenizing Syria, it bore the Macedonian name of Pella. The fortress was placed upon a hill; the windings of the Orontes, with the lake and marshes, gave it a peninsular form, whence its other name of Cherronêsos. Seleucus had his commissariat there, 500 elephants, with 30,000 mares, and 300 stallions. The pretender, Diodotus Tryphon, made Apamea the basis of his operations. (Strab. l. c.) Located at a strategic crossroads for Eastern commerce, the city flourished to the extent that its population eventually numbered half a million. It was one of the four cities of the Syrian tetrapolis.
The acropolis hill is now occupied by the ruins called Kalat el-Mudik (Kŭlat el-Mudîk). The ruins of a highly ornamental character, and of an enormous extent, are still standing, the remains, probably, of the temples of which Sozomen speaks (vii. 15); part of the town is enclosed in an ancient castle situated on a hill; the remainder is to be found in the plain. In the adjacent lake are the celebrated black fish, the source of much wealth.
Both the Jerusalem Targumim considered the city of Shepham (Num. xxxiv. 11) to be identical with Apamea. Since Apamea virtually belonged to Rabbinic Palestine, the first-fruits brought by Ariston from that town were accepted for sacrifice in Jerusalem (Mishnah Ḥal. iv. 11). Apamea remains a titular see of the Roman Catholic Church, Apamenus in Syria; the seat has been vacant since the death of the last bishop in 1974.