Aleppo Old Town (World Heritage)

Aleppo Old Town (World Heritage)

At the crossroads of traditional trade routes, Aleppo was an important economic center. The old town is a unique architectural mosaic from different times from the Hittites to the Ottomans. It is dominated by the medieval citadel. In ancient times, the center of the city was the Greek market square, on which the great Umayyad mosque has stood since 715. The large caravanserais date from the 15th to 17th centuries.

Aleppo Old City: Facts

Official title: Aleppo old town
Cultural monument: Old town with the citadel located on the 275×375 m oval castle plateau with the 27×24 m throne room, the Hammam al-Labadiya, one of the most beautiful baths in Syria, with the first Ottoman building of the city, the mosque al-Khosrowiya, with the madrasa as- Sultaniye (13th century), with the handicraft market Khan ah-Shuna and the 12 km long bazaar
Continent: Asia
Country: Syria
Location: Aleppo, north of Damascus
Appointment: 1988
Meaning: At the crossroads of traditional trade routes, a unique urban mosaic from the times of the Hittites, Mongols, Arabs, Mamelukes and Ottomans

Old city of Aleppo: history

3rd century BC Chr. Hellenistic city foundation with a right-angled street grid by Seleukos Nikator
636 Entry of Arab conquerors through the Antioch Gate (Bab Antikiya)
1167 Construction of the Abraham Mosque
1213 Construction of the Great Mosque
1230 Construction of the palace of the Aijubids al-Aziz on the castle hill
1354 Bimaristan Arghuni, the old hospital
1516 after the conquest of Syria by the Ottomans under Sultan Selim I, Aleppo becomes a »Middle Eastern Hong Kong«
1537 Construction of the al-Khosrowiya mosque
1682 Khan al-Wazir caravanserai
1822 Large part of the city destroyed in a severe earthquake
2012 During the civil war, Aleppo becomes one of the main places of conflict

In the twilight of the Levantine bazaar

Aleppo has many nicknames. It is called the “city of the seven gates”, “the gray one” or “the milked one”. The last name touches on the Islamic founding myth of the city. The citadel hill is said to be the old pasture of the ancestor Abraham, who also enjoys a high reputation in Islam and bears the honorary name of “friend of God” there. When he milked his flock, the people flocked for the milk that Abraham used to give away and shouted to each other: “Halaba ya la” – “Has it been milked yet?” Haleb «come. The name we are familiar with Aleppo is an Italian corruption of »Haleb« and probably comes from Venetian merchants of the 13th century.

Since prehistoric times, Haleb is attested as the residence of a kingdom called Yamkhad, which flourished for more than half a millennium. The Hellenistic re-establishment at the beginning of the 3rd century BC created a basic urban structure with the citadel hill as a royal castle and a regular street grid in the lower town, which can still be demonstrated today despite the overbuilding.

Located halfway between the most important Euphrates crossings and the Mediterranean Sea, Aleppo has been a center of the Middle Eastern trade since the beginning. Throughout the Middle Ages, the city, surrounded by strong walls, was the epitome of the commercial Levant. Aleppo controlled the profitable silk trade between Northern Iran and the Italian merchant towns and gained in importance as a commercial hub in the Turkish Empire with the Ottoman conquest of the Middle East. The European trading powers – whether Venice, France, England, the Netherlands or Russia – opened offices and consulates in the city.

Visible from afar and striking for the old town is the citadel enthroned on the castle hill. In the Hellenistic period it was the acropolis of the city, in the Islamic period it served as a refuge and residence. A tower-rich wall wreath rises above a smooth cone of rock paved with stones on the flanks. The only access to the height is an ascending arch bridge, which is taken up by a gate structure that kinks several times and is therefore easy to defend. Two mosques, one of which is dedicated to Abraham, and the ruins of a palace have been preserved on the plateau, as well as the throne room, which was built over the gateway at the beginning of the 15th century.

The view goes far from the citadel over the roofs of Aleppo. In the west you can see the religious center of the old town, the Umayyad mosque, which in its current form no longer belongs to the early Umayyad period of Islam, but to the Middle Ages. Located in the middle of the old town, it is surrounded by religious and secular buildings from the period between the 12th and 15th centuries, including the religious schools Halawiya, Moqadamiya and Adiliya as well as two hospitals, the Bimaristan Nuri and the Bimaristan Arghuni. In the trading city of Aleppo, the large warehouses of the Ottoman period clearly emerge from the maze of alleys, the Khan al-Wazir, the Khan as-Sabun and the Khan al-Gumruk. A single jewelry portal opens up the courtyard of these two-story caravanserais,

The souk spreads out between all these buildings, the covered shopping streets of the largest bazaar in the Orient and the “most oriental shopping arcade” of Syria – as dim as Romanesque naves. During the civil war of 2012, there was heavy fighting between rebels and government troops in Aleppo, and the old town was also badly affected. The world famous bazaar suffered severe fire damage.

Aleppo Old Town (World Heritage)