Aleppo Al-Chahba, has been a prosperous city since the 3rd millennium BC and has maintained its status through town development and an increasing population.
Aleppo has played a vital role in the history of the area from time of Acadians and Amorite Kingdoms. Until recently Aleppo has always been the center of the junction of the ancient trade routes.
Aleppo is famous for its ancient citadel with medieval fortress and the extraordinary souks (bazaars) with every conceivable kind of article for sale. Aleppo is also the second largest city in Syria. It was and still the far distant trade center when Shakespeare mentioned it in Macbeth and Othello.
The old city of Aleppo was surrounded by a wall incorporating defense towers and fortified gates built during the Islamic period. A large part of Aleppo wall still standing.
Aleppo is also known for its mosques and churches and is considered the third city in the Islamic world because of the number of its mosques and schools. The Archaeological Museum contains exhibits from the stone age to modern times.
Aleppo has particularly interesting collection of antiquities from some of the most ancient sites in Syria including Mari, Ugarit, and Ebla, as well as objects found in the Euphrates Basin, Hama, Tell Halaf and Ein Dara, in addition to remains from Greek, Roman, Arab and Islamic periods
50m above the Aleppo city, a ring of crenellated walls and towers rises from a steep glacis, encircling a mass of ruins from every period. It has always been extremely important, both strategically and militarily. It was built in the days of Sayf al-Dawla al-Hamadani, on the remains of earlier civilizations.
The citadel's fortified entrance is a marvelous example of Arab military architecture. On the north and south sides of Aleppo citadel, great towers rise above the moat. This moat, 20m deep and 30m wide, emphasizes the fortress's proud isolation.
The main parts of Aleppo citadel are: The throne room, the bathroom, the small mosque (Ibrahim's mosque), the great mosque built in 1213 whose square minaret is 21 m high and from which can be seen a splendid view. Inside Aleppo citadel there is a small museum that contains relics uncovered during restoration and reconstruction .
Worth visiting also are the high walls of ancient Aleppo, with their fortified doors (Hadid , Antakia, and Qinsrin) which are a fine example of Islamic military architecture.
Souqs and Commercial khans of Aleppo
In terms of spaciousness and originality, the covered souqs of Aleppo, which extend for more than 10 km, are the most striking in any Islamic city. The souqs of Aleppo are named after the various crafts: hence, we find the souq of gold, the souq of copper, cotton, etc. Traditionally, there is always a fountain in the center and sometimes a little garden planted with jasmine and roses. Most of Aleppo souqs date back to the 15th century. They are living museums which depict medieval life.
Aleppo khans (caravanserai) are in the same area as Aleppo souqs, since they were used for the accommodation of traders and their goods. These khans arte characterized by their beautiful facades and entrances, their high arches and fortified wooden doors. Some of these 'khans are: Jumruk (Customs), Wazir (Minister) and Saboun (Soap).
Qal'at Sam'an (Saint Simon)
This citadel is 60 km north-west of Aleppo. It was named after the hermit Saint Simon (Sam'an), a shepherd from northern Syria, who became a monk after a revelation in a dream. Following Saint Simon's death in 459, the Emperor Zenon ordered that a cathedral be built where the saint used to pray.
The layout was original, centering on the famous column from which Saint Simon used to preach. Four basilicas, arranged in the shape of a cross, opened into an octagon covered by a dome, in the center of which stood the holy column.
It is a beautiful church built on the ridge of the hill where Saint Simon had taken up "residence". Simplicity and harmony combine to make the ruins of the Basilica of St. Simon (an earthquake destroyed parts of the church less than half a century after it had been built) a masterpiece of pre-Islamic art in Syria.
In the 10th century, some towers and walls were erected. It was then called "Qal'at Sam'an" (Simon's Citadel). It became the center of conflict between Byzantium and the Hamadani kingdom; in 986, the son of Sayf al-Dawla al-Hamadani finally captured it.
Ebla (Tel Mardikn-Idleb)
This "Tel" is 25 km south-east- of Idleb. It is the site of important and recent archaeological discoveries. Excavations in the "Tel" have revealed a very old Syrian civilization, that of Ebla, which flourished in the 3rd and 2nd millenniums B.C.
In the palace of this great kingdom, a library containing more than
17,000 clay tablets was uncovered. These tablets are the earliest written
documents in Syria.
Places to visit in Aleppo
- Al-Jami' al-Kabir (The Great Mosque), similar to the Omayyad mosque in Damascus.
- Aleppo Old schools, churches, mosques, baths and ancient houses, some dating back to the 15th century, like the al-Bunduqiah (Venetian) Consulate, which contains superb ornaments and antiquities.
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