Aleppo Journals

Aleppo: The Souq At The End Of The Silk Route

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An August 2009 trip to Aleppo by Liam Hetherington

Aleppo Souq Photo, Aleppo, Syria More Photos
Quote: Aleppo was once one of the greatest market places in the world, a bazaar at the western end of the great Silk Route through the Levant, Persia, India and China. Get ready to bargain in the largest souq (covered market) in the world...

Aleppo

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Attraction | "The Souq at the End of the Silk Route"

Al Kommeh Restaurant Photo, Aleppo, Syria
Quote:
A crossroads. A marketplace. The largest souq in the world. Aleppo was built on commerce. The Silk Route overland from China and central Asia ended here. Goods came up the Euphrates from Arabia and Mesopotamia. Caravans from Egypt and the Levant met with those coming down from Anatolia and Armenia. Europeans came from the Mediterranean through Alexandretta and Antioch. Aleppo was a cosmopolitan hub of commerce and trade. It was the largest and most prestigious city in the Ottoman Empire after Istanbul and ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 8, 2010

Souqs of the Old City

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Story/Tip

Souq al-Attarine Photo, Aleppo, Syria
Quote:
The medina, or old city, of Aleppo is old. A fierce regional dispute simmers with Damascus about precisely which of Syria’s two main cities is actually "the oldest continually inhabited city on earth", and which is merely runner up (Damascus probably just about has the edge of Aleppo here, but do not tell the Halabis that!). It sprawls to the west of the acropolis where the Citadel now perches and was once ringed with 5km walls, only some of which still remain, pierced with eight great gates. Inside the covered markets, or souqs, form the heart of the complex. These are ringed by t...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 8, 2010

Citadel of Aleppo

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Attraction | "The Crown of Aleppo"

Citadel of Aleppo Photo, Aleppo, Syria
Quote:
Overhead views of Aleppo reveal one distinguishing feature amidst the dun huddle of buildings that comprises the city today. The remarkable Citadel really is a double-take experience. You certainly cannot miss it. At the eastern end of the old city a 30m wide dry moat surrounds a huge oval mount. The 50m tall steeply sloping walls are faced with limestone blocks, making the entire construct look artificial. However, this towering island is a natural outcrop. Remains of a sanctuary to the Semitic sky god Hadad, only recently discovered, date use of the site to the middle of the third millenium BC. It formed the acropolis of the fledgling city under the Assyrians, Persians, Seleucids and Romans, ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 8, 2010

Citadel of Aleppo
Center Of The Old City of Aleppo
Aleppo, Northern Syria

Guided Tour of Aleppo

Attraction | "Ahmed's Insider Tours of Aleppo"

Old Man of Aleppo Photo, Aleppo, Syria
Quote:
You can get a good overview of the souq just by wandering and interacting with the stall-holders. However, if you want to learn more about the old city of Aleppo and gain access to some more out of the way locations, it may be better to hire a guide. One that I can certainly recommend is Ahmed Modallal. Ahmed is a great guy, with a professorial air, a cheeky glint in his eye, a pocketful of sweets to hand out to anyone correctly answering his pop-quiz questions, and a tendency to wax lyrical over the voices of great chanteuses like Edith Piaf and Umm Kalthoum. He has excellent conversational English, and is used to providing orientation tours for the diplomatic community (and even the Italian p...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 8, 2010

Dar Halabia

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Hotel | "Suites in the Souq"

Quote:
Curious what lies behind the high blank walls of Aleppo’s sidestreets? Try staying at Dar Halabia, one of only two hotels in the Old City, and a mere minute away from Souq Bab-Antakya (follow the signposts). A complex of traditional old buildings at the end of an alleyway has been renovated into a lovely little three-star hotel. The ground floor centres on a lovely shaded courtyard with a fountain, off which rooms are situated. The yard is decorated with old framed photographs of historic Aleppo, thick woven rugs, and tarnished brass gewgaws and provides a nice cool communal area in which to congregate, read, or just utilise the Wi-Fi. There is a water cooler just by the reception desk f...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 8, 2010

Dar Halabia
Bab Antakya
Aleppo, Syria
+963 21 332 3344

Al Kommeh Restaurant

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Restaurant | "Breaking Fasts and Records"

Al Kommeh Restaurant Photo, Aleppo, Syria
Quote:
Al Kommeh restaurant is quite a record-breaker. The sign outside states that the restaurant holds no less than three world records – the longest kebab skewer in the world (12m long, weighing 15kg), the largest bowl of fattoosh in the world (6m in diameter, weighing 3.5kg), and the largest kebba sajieh (a type of bread – 2m in diameter, weighing 40kg). And I think they were serving all of that up to us when we visited!Located up several flights of stairs off Sharia Bab al-Faraj (near the New Town clock tower and the Sheraton Hotel) Al Kommeh is a vast dining hall with semi-garish decoration (multicoloured lighting, a waterfall, plastic vines etc). The noise could be heard half...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 8, 2010

Al Kommeh Restaurant
Bab Al-faraj, New City
Aleppo, Syria
+963 21 2113550

Ramadan in Aleppo

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Al-Jdeida Photo, Aleppo, Syria
Quote:
While the month of fasting called Ramadan is treated somewhat casually in some parts of the Muslim world, in Aleppo it is very much observed. This northern city is known as being more conservative in religious matters than Damascus, and you will certainly see more chadors on the streets of Aleppo. So it is interesting to see how Ramadan is marked here.During Ramadan the faithful are expected to abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex during daylight hours. Families rise early to fill up on breakfast before dawn (around 4.30AM during my visit); likewise they meet together as families...Read More

The Kindness of Strangers

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Story/Tip

Quote:
His name, he told me, was Anwar. His name meant ‘light’ – the day of his birth saw his little Syrian village connected up to electricity for the first time and he was born that night beneath the glow of an electric lightbulb. He told me this as we flew over Germany en route to Istanbul. I was travelling on to Cairo. Anwar knew Cairo – he had studied medicine at the university there in the days of Nasser and Sadat, back before he had moved to England to practice as a doctor. Today he was travelling back to Damascus to see his family. When he heard that my journey overland f...Read More

About the Writer

Liam Hetherington

Liam Hetherington
Manchester, United Kingdom