Halep, Ḥalab
Aleppo City landmarks

Aleppo Citadel • Hammam Yalbugha
Bab al-Faraj tower and Sheraton Aleppo • Al-Saffahiyah mosque • Aleppo city hall
Dusk at Downtown Aleppo • Aleppo Public Park
Ancient Aleppo
Nickname(s): Ash-Shahbaa
Aleppo is located in Syria
Location in Syria
Coordinates: 36°13′N 37°10′E / 36.217°N 37.167°E / 36.217; 37.167
Country  Syria
Governorate Aleppo Governorate
District Jabal Semaan
 – Head of City Council Lama Mi'mar
 – City 190 km2 (73.4 sq mi)
Elevation 379 m (1,243 ft)
Population (2005 estimate)
 – City 2,301,570
 – Metro 2,490,751
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 – Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Area code(s) Country code: 963, City code: 21
Demonym Aleppine
Website Aleppo City
Sources: Aleppo city area [1] Sources: City population [2] Sources: Metro population [3]

Aleppo (Arabic: حلبḤalab [ˈħalæb], other names) is the largest city in Syria[4] and the capital of Aleppo Governorate, the most populous Syrian governorate. With an official population of 2,301,570 (2005 official estimate), expanding to over 2.5 million in the metropolitan area, it is also one of the largest cities in the Levant.[5][6] For centuries, Aleppo was Greater Syria's largest city and the Ottoman Empire's third, after Constantinople and Cairo.[7][8][9] Although relatively close to Damascus in distance, Aleppo is distinct in identity, architecture and culture, all shaped by a markedly different history and geography.

Aleppo is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world; it has been inhabited since perhaps as early as the 6th millennium BC.[10] Excavations at Tell as-Sawda and Tell al-Ansari, just south of the old city of Aleppo, show that the area was occupied since at least the latter part of the 3rd millennium BC;[11] and this is also when Aleppo is first mentioned in cuneiform tablets unearthed in Ebla and Mesopotamia, in which it is noted for its commercial and military proficiency.[12] Such a long history is probably due to its being a strategic trading point midway between the Mediterranean Sea and Mesopotamia.

The city's significance in history has been its location at the end of the Silk Road, which passed through central Asia and Mesopotamia. When the Suez Canal was inaugurated in 1869, trade was diverted to sea and Aleppo began its slow decline. At the fall of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, Aleppo ceded its northern hinterland to modern Turkey, as well as the important railway connecting it to Mosul. Then in the 1940s it lost its main access to the sea, Antioch and Alexandretta (Iskenderun), also to Turkey. Finally, the isolation of Syria in the past few decades further exacerbated the situation, although perhaps it is this very decline that has helped to preserve the old city of Aleppo, its mediaeval architecture and traditional heritage. Aleppo is now experiencing a noticeable revival and is slowly returning to the spotlight. It recently won the title of the "Islamic Capital of Culture 2006", and has also witnessed a wave of successful restorations of its historic landmarks.



Aleppo in hieroglyphs
Z3 D58 G29 N25


Aleppo is the common modern-day English name for the city. It was known in antiquity as Khalpe, Khalibon,[13] and to the Greeks and Romans as Beroea (Βέροια). During the Crusades, and again during the French Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon, the name Alep was used: "Aleppo" is an Italianised version of this.

The ancient name of the city, Halab, is also its Arabic name in the modern day. It is of obscure origin. Some have proposed that Halab means 'iron' or 'copper' in Amorite languages since it was a major source of these metals in antiquity. Halaba in Aramaic means white, referring to the color of soil and marble abundant in the area. Another proposed etymology is that the name Halab means "gave out milk," coming from the ancient tradition that Abraham gave milk to travelers as they moved throughout the region.[14] The colour of his cows was ashen (Arab. shaheb); therefore the city is also called Halab ash-Shahba ("he milked the ash-coloured").

Geography and description


Aleppo lies about 120 km (75 mi) inland from the Mediterranean Sea, on a plateau 380 meters above sea level, 45 kilometers east of the Syrian-Turkish border checkpoint of Bab al-Hawa. The city is surrounded by farmlands from the north and the west, widely cultivated with olive and pistachio trees. To the east, Aleppo approaches the dry areas of the Syrian Desert.

The city was originally founded a few kilometers south of the location of the current old city, on the right bank of river Quweiq which arises from the Aintab plateau in the north and runs through Aleppo southward to the fertile country of Qinnasrin. The old city of Aleppo lies on the left bank of the Quweiq. It was surrounded by a circle of eight hills surrounding a prominent central hill on which the castle (originally a temple dating to the 2nd millennium BC) was erected. The radius of the circle is about 10 km. The hills are Tell as-Sawda, Tell ʕāysha, Tell as-Sett, Tell al-Yāsmīn (Al-ʕaqaba), Tell al-Ansāri (Yārūqiyya), ʕan at-Tall, al-Jallūm, Baḥsīta.[15] The old city was enclosed within an ancient walll that was last rebuilt by the Mamlukes. The wall has since disappeared. It had nine gates and was surrounded by a broad deep ditch.[15]

Occupying an area of more than 190 km2 (73.36 sq mi), Aleppo is one of the fastest growing cities in the Middle East. According to the new major plan of the city adopted in 2001, it is envisaged to increase the total area of Aleppo up to 420 km2 (162.16 sq mi) by the end of 2015.[1][16]


Aleppo has a semi-arid climate. The mountain series that run along the Mediterranean coast, namely Mount Alawites and Mount Amanus, largely block the effects of the Mediterranean on climate (rain shadow effect). The average temperature is 18-20 C. The average precipitation is 395 mm (15.55 in). 80% of precipitation occurs between October and March. Snow is rare. Average humidity is 58%.[17]

Climate data for Aleppo
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 17
Average high °C (°F) 10
Average low °C (°F) 1
Record low °C (°F) −13
Precipitation mm (inches) 89
Source: BBC Weather[18]


Ancient City of Aleppo *
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Ancient Aleppo
Country Syria
Type Cultural
Criteria iii, iv
Reference 21
Region ** List of World Heritage Sites in the Arab States
Inscription history
Inscription 1986 (10th Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List
** Region as classified by UNESCO

Pre-history and pre-classical era

Aleppo has scarcely been touched by archaeologists, since the modern city occupies its ancient site. The site has been occupied from around 5000 BC, as excavations in Tallet Alsauda show.

Early Bronze Age

Aleppo appears in historical records as an important city much earlier than Damascus. The first record of Aleppo comes from the third millennium BC, when Aleppo was the capital of an independent kingdom closely related to Ebla, known as Armi to Ebla and Arman to the Akkadians. Giovanni Pettinato describes Armi as Ebla's alter ego. Naram-Sin of Akkad (or his grandfather Sargon) destroyed both Ebla and Arman in the 23rd century BC.[19][20]

Middle Bronze Age

In the Old Babylonian period, Aleppo's name appears as Ḥalab (Ḥalba) for the first time.[20] Aleppo was the capital of the important Amorite dynasty of Yamḥad. The kingdom of Yamḥad (ca. 1800-1600 BC), alternatively known as the 'land of Ḥalab,' was the most powerful in the Near East at the time.[21]

Yamḥad was destroyed by the Hittites under Mursilis I in the 16th century BC. However, Aleppo soon resumed its leading role in Syria when the Hittite power in the region waned due to internal strife.[20]

Late Bronze Age

Taking advantage of the power vacuum in the region, Parshatatar, king of the Hurrian kingdom of Mitanni, conquered Aleppo in the 15th century BC. Subsequently, Aleppo found itself on the frontline in the struggle between the Mitanni and the Hittites and Egypt.[20]

The Hittite Suppiluliumas I permanently defeated Mitanni and conquered Aleppo in the 14th century BC. Aleppo had cultic importance to the Hittites for being the center of worship of the Storm-God.[20]

Iron Age

When the Hittite kingdom collapsed in the 12th century BC, Aleppo became part of the Aramaean Syro-Hittite kingdom of Arpad (Bit Agusi), and later it became capital of the Aramaean Syro-Hittite kingdom of Hatarikka-Luhuti.

In the 9th century BC, Aleppo was conquered by the Assyrians and became part of the Neo-Assyrian Empire until the late 7th century BC, before passing through the hands of the Neo-Babylonians and the Achamenid Persians.

Classical Antiquity

The ruins of the Maronite basilica in Brad.

Alexander the Great took over the city in 333 BC. Seleucus Nicator established a Hellenic settlement in the site between 301-286 BC. He called it Beroea (Βέροια), after Beroea in Macedon.

Northern Syria was the center of gravity of the Hellenistic colonizing activity, and therefore of Hellenistic culture in the Seleucid Empire. As did other Hellenized cities of the Seleucid kingdom, Beroea probably enjoyed a measure of local autonomy, with a local civic assembly or boulē composed of free Hellenes.[22]

Beroea remained under Seleucid rule for nearly 300 years until the last holdings of the Seleucid dynasty were handed over to Pompey in 64 BC, at which time they became a Roman province. Rome's presence afforded relative stability in northern Syria for over three centuries. Although the province was administered by a legate from Rome, Rome did not impose its administrative organization on the Greek-speaking ruling class.[22]

The Roman era saw an increase in the population of northern Syria that accelerated under the Byzantines well into the 5th century. In Late Antiquity, Beroea was the second largest Syrian city after Antioch, the capital of Syria and the third largest city in the Roman world. Archaeological evidence indicates a high population density for settlements between Antioch and Beroea right up to the 6th century CE. This agrarian landscape holds now the remains of large estate houses and churches such as the Church of Saint Simeon Stylites.[22] Saint Maron of the Maronite Church was probably born in this region; his tomb is located at Brad to the west of Aleppo.

Beroea is mentioned in 2 Macc. 13:3.

Medieval period

Great Mosque of Aleppo
The old walls of Aleppo and the Gate of Qinnasrin restored in 1256 by An-Nasir Yusuf

The Sassanid Persians invaded Syria briefely in the early 7th century. Soon after Aleppo fell to Arabs under Khalid ibn al-Walid in 637. In 944, it became the seat of an independent Emirate under the Hamdanid prince Sayf al-Daula, and enjoyed a period of great prosperity, being home to the great poet al-Mutanabbi and the philosopher and polymath al-Farabi. The city was sacked by a resurgent Byzantine Empire in 962, while Byzantine forces occupied it briefly from 974 to 987. The city and its Emirate became an Imperial vassal from 969 until the Byzantine-Seljuk Wars. The city was twice besieged by the Crusaders, in 1098 and in 1124, but was not conquered.

On 9 August 1138, a deadly earthquake ravaged the city and the surrounding area. Although estimates from this time are very unreliable, it is believed that 230,000 people died, making it the fifth deadliest earthquake in recorded history.

The city came under the control of Saladin and then the Ayyubid Dynasty starting from 1183.

On 24 January 1260,[23] the city was taken by the Mongols under Hulagu in alliance with their vassals the Frank knights of the ruler of Antioch Bohemond VI and his father-in-law the Armenian ruler Hetoum I.[24] The city was poorly defended by Turanshah, and as a result the walls fell after six days of bombardment, and the citadel fell four weeks later. The Muslim population was massacred and many Jews were also killed.[25] The Christian population was spared. Turanshah was shown unusual respect by the Mongols, and was allowed to live because of his age and bravery. The city was then given to the former Emir of Homs, al-Ashraf, and a Mongol garrison was established in the city. Some of the spoils were also given to Hethoum I for his assistance in the attack. The Mongol Army then continued on to Damascus, which surrendered, and the Mongols entered the city on 1 March 1260.

In September 1260, the Egyptian Mamluks negotiated for a treaty with the Franks of Acre which allowed them to pass through Crusader territory unmolested, and engaged the Mongols at the Battle of Ain Jalut on September 3, 1260. The Mamluks won a decisive victory, killing the Mongols' Nestorian Christian general Kitbuqa, and five days later they had re-taken Damascus. Aleppo was recovered by the Muslims within a month, and a Mamluk governor placed to govern the city. Hulagu sent troops to try to recover Aleppo in December. They were able to massacre a large number of Muslims in retaliation for the death of Kitbuqa, but after a fortnight could make no other progress and had to retreat.[26]

Souq az-Zirb from the Mamluk period

The Mamluk governor of the city became insubordinate to the central Mamluk authority in Cairo, and in Autumn 1261 the Mamluk leader Baibars sent an army to reclaim the city. In October 1271, the Mongols took the city again, attacking with 10,000 horsemen from Anatolia, and defeating the Turcoman troops who were defending Aleppo. The Mamluk garrisons fled to Hama, until Baibars came north again with his main army, and the Mongols retreated.[27]

On 20 October 1280, the Mongols took the city again, pillaging the markets and burning the mosques. The Muslim inhabitants fled for Damascus, where the Mamluk leader Qalawun assembled his forces. When his army advanced, the Mongols again retreated, back across the Euphrates.

Aleppo returned to native control only in 1317. In 1400, the Mongol-Turkic leader Tamerlane captured the city again from the Mamluks.[28] He massacred many of the inhabitants, ordering the building of a tower of 20,000 skulls outside the city.[29] After the withdrawal of the Mongols, all the Muslim population returned to Aleppo. On the other hand, Christians who left the city during the Mongol invasion were unable to resettle back in their own quarter in the old town, a fact that led them to establish a new neighborhood in 1420, built outside the city walls, at the northern suburbs of Aleppo. This new quarter was called al-Jdeydeh ("the new district" in Arabic).

Ottoman period

Narrow alley at the Armenian quarter in Jdeydeh, early 17th century

Aleppo became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1516, when the city had around 50,000 inhabitants. It was the center of the Vilayet of Aleppo and the capital of Syria.[9]

Thanks to its strategic geographic location on the trade route between Anatolia and the east, Aleppo rose to high prominence in the Ottoman era, at one point being second only to Constantinople in the empire. By the middle of the 16th century, Aleppo had displaced Damascus as the principal market for goods coming to the Mediterranean region from the east. This is reflected by the fact that the Levant Company of London, a joint-trading company founded in 1581 to monopolize England's trade with the Ottoman Empire, never attempted to settle a factor, or agnet, in Damascus, despite having had permission to do so. Aleppo served as the company's headquarters until the late 18th century.[30]

As a result of the economic development, many European states had opened consulates in Aleppo during the 16th and the 17th centuries, such as the consulate of the Republic of Venice in 1548, the consulate of France in 1562, the consulate of England in 1583 and the consulate of the Netherlands in 1613.[31]

However, the prosperity Aleppo experienced in the 16th and 17th century started to fade as silk production in Iran went into decline with the fall of the Safavid dynasty in 1722. By mid-century, caravans were no longer bringing silk from Iran to Aleppo, and local Syrian production was insufficient for Europe's demand. European merchants left Aleppo and the city went into an economic decline that was not reversed until the mid-19th century when locally produced cotton and tobacco became the principal commodities of interest to the Europeans.[30]

Aleppine architecture of the Ottoman period.

The economy of Aleppo was badly hit by the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. This, in addition to political instability that followed the implementation of significant reforms in 1841 by the central government, contributed to Aleppo's decline and the rise of Damascus as a serious economic and political competitor with Aleppo.[30]

Reference is made to the city in 1606 in William Shakespeare's 'Macbeth.' The witches torment the captain of the ship the Tiger which was headed to Aleppo from England but endured a 567 day voyage before returning unsuccessfully to port. Reference is also made to the city in Shakespeare's 'Othello' when Othello speaks his final words (ACT V, ii, 349f.): "Set you down this/And say besides that in Aleppo once,/Where a malignant and a turbanned Turk/Beat a Venitia and traduced the state,/I took by th' throat the circumcised dog/And smote him--thus!" (Arden Shakespeare Edition, 2004). The English naval chaplain Henry Teonge describes in his diary a visit he paid to the city in 1675, when there was a colony of West European merchants living there.

Aleppo in 1912, centered on its citadel mound

The city remained Ottoman until the empire's collapse, but was occasionally riven with internal feuds as well as attacks of cholera from 1823. Aleppo lost some 20-25 percent of its population to plague in 1827.[32] By 1901, the city's population was around 110,000.

At the end of World War I, the Treaty of Sèvres made most of the Province of Aleppo part of the newly established nation of Syria, while Cilicia was promised by France to become an Armenian state. However, Kemal Ataturk annexed most of the Province of Aleppo as well as Cilicia to Turkey in his War of Independence. The Arab residents in the province (as well as the Kurds) supported the Turks in this war against the French, a notable example being Ibrahim Hanano who directly coordinated with Ataturk and received weaponry from him. The outcome, however, was disastrous for Aleppo, because as per the Treaty of Lausanne, most of the Province of Aleppo was made part of Turkey with the exception of Aleppo and Alexandretta; thus, Aleppo was cut from its northern satellites and from the Anatolian cities beyond on which Aleppo depended heavily in commerce. Moreover, the Sykes-Picot division of the Near East separated Aleppo from most of Mesopotamia, which also harmed the economy of Aleppo. The situation exacerbated further in 1939 when Alexandretta was annexed to Turkey, thus depriving Aleppo from its main port of Iskenderun and leaving it in total isolation within Syria.

French mandate

Aleppo State

Colonial flag of the State of Aleppo (1920-1925)

The State of Aleppo was declared by the French General Henri Gouraud in September 1920 as part of a French scheme to make Syria easier to control by dividing it into several smaller states. France became more hostile to the idea of a united Syria after the Battle of Maysaloun.

By separating Aleppo from Damascus, Gouraud wanted to capitalize on a traditional state of competition between the two cities and turn it into political division. The people in Aleppo were unhappy with the fact that Damascus was chosen as capital for the new nation of Syria. Gouraud sensed this sentiment and tried to manipulate it by making Aleppo the capital of a large and wealthier state with which it would have been hard for Damascus to compete. The State of Aleppo as drawn by France contained most of the fertile area of Syria— namely it contained the fertile country of Aleppo in addition to the entire fertile basin of river Euphrates. The state also had access to sea via the autonomous Sanjak of Alexandretta. On the other hand, Damascus, which is basically an oasis on the fringes of the Syrian Desert, had neither enough fertile land nor access to sea. Basically, Gouraud wanted to lure Aleppo by giving it control over most of the agricultural and mineral wealth of Syria so that it would never want to unite with Damascus again.[33][34]

Syrian Federation

Grand Seray d'Alep, the former seat of Aleppo Governorate

The limited economic resources of the Syrian states made the option of completely independent states undesirable for France, because it threatened an opposite result— the states collapsing and being forced back into unity. This was why France proposed the idea of a Syrian federation that was realized in 1923. Initially, Gouraud envisioned the federation as encompassing all the states— even Lebanon. In the end however, only three states participated: Aleppo, Damascus, and the Alawite State. The capital of the federation was Aleppo at first, but it was relocated to Damascus. The president of the federation was Subhi Barakat, an Antioch-born politician from Aleppo.

The federation ended in December 1924, when France merged Aleppo and Damascus into a single Syrian State and separated the Alawite State again. This action came after the federation decided to merge the three federated states into one and to take steps encouraging Syria's financial independence— steps which France viewed as too much.[33][34]

Secession attempt

When the Syrian Revolt erupted in southern Syria in 1925, the French held in Aleppo State new elections that were supposed to lead to the breaking of the union with Damascus and restore the independence of Aleppo State. The French were driven to believe by pro-French Aleppine politicians that the people in Aleppo were supportive of such a scheme. After the new council was elected, however, it surprisingly voted to keep the union with Damascus. Syrian nationalists had waged a massive anti-secession public campaign that vigorously mobilized the people against the secession plan, thus leaving the pro-French politicians no choice but to support the union. The result was a big embarrassment for France, which wanted the secession of Aleppo to be a punitive measure against Damascus, which had participated in the Syrian Revolt. This was the last time that independence was proposed for Aleppo.[35]


Shukri al-Quwatli street, known as rue de France during the French mandate

The period immediately following independence from France was marked by increasing rivalry between Aleppo and Damascus. Aleppo feverishly called for an immediate union between Syria and Hashimite Iraq, a demand that was firmly rejected by Damascus. Instead, Damascus favored a pro-Egyptian, pro-Saudi orientation and actively participated in the establishment of the Arab League in Alexandria in 1944, an organization that was seen by many Arab nationalists as a 'conspiracy' aimed against the unification of the Fertile Crescent under the Hashimites.

The increasing disagreements between Aleppo and Damascus led eventually to the split of the National Block into two factions: the National Party, established in Damascus in 1947, and the People's Party, established in Aleppo in 1948 by Rushdi Kikhya and Nazim Qudsi. An underlying cause of the disagreement, in addition to the union with Iraq, was Aleppo's intention to relocate the capital from Damascus. The issue of the capital became an open debate matter in 1950 when the Popular Party presented a constitution draft that called Damascus a "temporary capital."

Tilel street

The first coup d'état in modern Syrian history was carried out in March 1949 by an army officer from Aleppo, Hussni Zaim. However, lured by the absolute power he enjoyed as a dictator, Zaim soon developed a pro-Egyptian, pro-Western orientation and abandoned the cause of union with Iraq. This incited a second coup only four months after his. The second coup, led by Sami Hinnawi (also from Aleppo), empowered the Popular Party and actively sought to realize the union with Iraq. The news of an imminent union with Iraq incited a third coup the same year: in December 1949, Adib Shishakly led a coup preempting a union with Iraq that was about to be declared.

Soon after Shishakly's domination ended in 1954, a union with Egypt under Gamal Abdul Nasser was implemented in 1958. The union, however, collapsed only two years later when a junta of young Damascene officers carried out a separatist coup. Aleppo resisted the separatist coup, but eventually it had no choice but to recognize the new regime. The new regime tried to absorb Aleppo's dissent by appointing both a president and premier from Aleppo—Nazim Qudsi and Marouf Dawalibi.

Tawhid mosque and Saint George's church

In March 1963 a coalition of Baathists, Nasserists, and Socialists launched a new coup whose declared objective was to restore the union with Egypt. However, the new regime only restored the flag of the union. Soon thereafter disagreement between the Baathists and the Nasserists over the restoration of the union became a crisis, and the Baathists ousted the Nasserists from power. The Nasserists, most of whom were from the Aleppine middle class, responded with an insurgency in Aleppo in July 1963.

Again, the Baath regime tried to absorb the dissent of the Syrian middle class (whose center of political activism was Aleppo) by putting to the front Amin Hafiz, a Baathist military officer from Aleppo.

President Hafez Assad, who came to power in 1970, relied on support from the business class in Damascus.[36] This gave Damascus further advantage over Aleppo, and hence Damascus came to dominate the Syrian economy. The strict centralization of the Syrian state, the intentional direction of resources towards Damascus, and the hegemony Damascus enjoys over the Syrian economy made it increasingly hard for Aleppo to compete. Hence, Aleppo is no longer an economic or cultural capital of Syria as it once used to be.[37]

In 2006, Aleppo was named by the Islamic Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) as the capital of Islamic culture.[38]

On 12 August 2011, with the ongoing Syrian uprising, an anti-government protest was held in the city's Sakhour district and at least two others. The one in Sakhour was "1,000 people at most" and it ended with two protesters being shot dead by Syrian security forces.[39]

On 19 October 2011, in one of the most largest rallies ever held in Syria, more than 1.5 million Aleppines flocked to Saadallah Al-Jabiri Square in support of the government of president Bashar al-Assad.[40][41]

Main sights

The Baron Hotel, dating to 1911

Aleppo is characterized by mixed architectural styles, having been ruled, among the other, by Romans, Byzantines, Seljuqs, Mamluks and Ottomans.[42]

There are various types of 13th and 14th centuries construction, such as caravanserais, Quranic schools and hammams, and the Christian and Islamic holy buildings of the old city and Jdeydeh quarter. The latter is home of numerous 16th and 17th-century houses of the Aleppine bourgeoisie, featuring stone engravings. Baroque architecture of the 19th and early 20th centuries is common in the Azizyeh quarter, including the Villa Rose. The new Shahba quarter is a mixture of several styles, such as Neo-classic, Norman, Oriental and even Chinese architecture.[43]

Since the old city is characterized with its large mansions, narrow alleys and covered suqs, the modern city's architecture has replenished the town with wide roads and large squares such as the Saadallah Al-Jabiri Square, the Liberty Square, the President's Square and Sabaa Bahrat Square.

The citadel amphitheatre

There is a relatively clear division between old and new Aleppo. The older portions were contained within a wall, 5 km in circuit with nine gates. The huge medieval castle in the city – known as the Citadel of Aleppo – occupies the center of the ancient part, in the shape of an acropolis.

Being subjected to constant invasions and political instability, the inhabitants of the city were forced to build cell-like quarters and districts that were socially and economically independent. Each district was characterized by the religious and ethnic characteristics of its inhabitants.

The old city was built (mostly in white stone) within the historical walls of the city, pierced by the nine historical gates, while Jdeydeh is the Christian quarter which was built during the early 15th century, after the Mongol withdrawal from the city. Jdeydeh is one of the finest examples of a cell-like quarter in Aleppo. After Timur invaded Aleppo in 1400 and destroyed it, the Christians migrated out of the city walls and established their own cell in 1420, at the northwestern region of the city, thus founding the quarter of Jdeydeh. The inhabitants of Jdeydeh were mainly brokers who facilitated trade between foreign traders and local merchants.

The total area of the ancient city is around 350 hectares (3.5 km²) housing more than 120,000 residents.[44]

Suqs and Khans

Ancient Aleppo, the Suq
Khan Al-Shouneh
Bawabet Al-Yasmin near the wool market, Jdeydeh

The city's strategic trading position attracted settlers of all races and beliefs who wished to take advantage of the commercial roads that met in Aleppo from as far as China and Mesopotamia to the east, Europe to the west, and the fertile crescent and Egypt to the south. The largest covered suq-market in the world is in Aleppo, with an approximate length of 13 kilometers.[45]

The Medina, as it is locally known, is an active trade centre for imported luxury goods, such as raw silk from Iran, spices and dyes from India, and coffee from Damascus. The Medina also is home to local products such as wool, agricultural products and soap. Most of the souqs date back to the 14th century and are named after various professions and crafts, hence the wool souq, the copper souq, and so on. Aside from trading, the souq accommodated the traders and their goods in khans (caravanserais) scattered in the souq. The khans also take their names after their location in the souq and function, and are characterized by their beautiful façades and entrances with fortified wooden doors.

The most notable suqs of the old city include:[46][47]

  • Khan Al-Qadi, built in 1450, is one of the oldest khans in Aleppo.
  • Khan Al-Burghul (or bulgur), built in 1472, hosted the British general consulate of Aleppo until the beginning of the 20th century.
  • Suq Al-Saboun or the soap khan, built in the beginning of the 16th century, located near the Aleppo soap markets.
  • Suq Khan Al-Nahhaseen or the coopery suq, built in 1539. It hosted the general consulate of Belgium during th 16th century. Nowadays, it is known for its traditional and modern shoe-trading shops with 84 stores.
  • Khan Al-Shouneh, built in 1546. Currently functions as a market for trades and traditional handicrafts of the Aleppine art.
  • Suq Khan Al-Harir or the silk khan. Built in the second half of the 16th century, the khan has 43 stores mainly specialized in textile trading. It hosted the Iranian consulate until 1919.
  • Suq Khan Al-Gumrok or the customs' khan, a textile trading centre with 55 stores. Built in 1574, Khan Al-Gumrok is considered to be the largest khan in ancient Aleppo.
  • Suq Khan Al-Wazir, built in 1682, believed to be the main suq of cotton products in Aleppo.
  • Suq Al-Attareen or the herbals' market. Traditionally, was the main spice-selling market of Aleppo. Currently, it is functioning as a textile-selling centre with 82 stores.
  • Suq Al-Zirb, originally known as Suq Al-Dharb. Was the place where coins were struck during the Mamluk period. Nowadays, the suq has 71 shops, most of them deal with textiles and the basic needs of the Bedouins.
  • Suq Al-Behramiyeh located near the Behramiyeh mosque with 52 stores of food trade.
  • Suq Al-Haddadeen is the old traditional balcksmiths' suq with its 37 workshopes.
  • Suq Al-Atiq or the old suq, specialized in raw leather trading with 48 stores.
  • Suq Al-Siyyagh or the jewelry market, is the main jewelry trade centre in Aleppo and Syria with 99 stores.
  • The Venetians' Khan, was the home of the consul of Venice and the Venetian merchants.
  • Suq Al-Niswan or the women's market, the place where all necessary accessories, clothes and wedding equipments of the bride could be found.
  • Al-Suweiqa or Sweiqat Ali (Suweiqa means "small suq" in Arabic), a large suq contains a group of khans and markets mainly specialized in home and kitchen equipment.

Many traditional khans are also functioning as suqs in Jdeydeh Christian quarter:

  • Suq Al-Hokedun or "Khan Al-Quds". Hokedun means "the spiritual house" in Armenian, as it was built to serve as a settlement for the Armenian pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem.[48] The old part of the Hokedun dates back to the late 15th and early 16th centuries while the newer part was built during the 17th century. Nowadays, it is turned into a big suq with a large number of stores specialized in garment trade.
  • Al-Salibeh, the centre of the old Christian chathedrals at Jdeydeh quarter.
  • Suq Al-Souf or the wool market, surrounded with the old churches of the quarter.
  • Bawabet Al-Qasab, a centre of wooden products.

Historic buildings

The most significant historic buildings of the old city include:

Al-Shibani Church-School
Bimaristan Arghun al-Kamili, 1354
Bab Al-Faraj clock tower
Dar Basile alley in Jdeydeh, 18th century
  • The Citadel, a large fortress built atop a huge, partially artificial mound rising 50 m above the city, dates back to the first millennium BC. Recent excavations unearthed a temple and 25 statues dating back to the first millennium BC.[49] Many of the current structure dates from the 13th century. The Citadel had been extensively damaged by earthquakes, notably in 1822.
  • Madrasa Halawiye, built in 1124 on the original site of the Cathedral of Saint Helen, where, according to tradition, a Roman temple had stood. Then Saint Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, built a great Byzantine cathedral there. When the Crusaders were pillaging the surrounding countryside, the city's chief judge converted St. Helena's cathedral into a mosque and finally, in the middle of the 12th century, Nur al-Din founded a madrasa or religious school here. Parts of the 6th century Christian construction, turned into an Islamic school after the Crusaders invasion, and including 6th century Byzantine columns, can be seen in the hall. It has also a fine 14th century mihrab.
  • Al-Matbakh Al-Ajami, an early 12th century palace located near the citadel, built by the Zengid emir Majd ad-Din bin ad-Daya. The building was renovated during the 15th century. It was the home of the Popular Traditions Museum between 1967-1975.
  • Al-Shibani Cultural Centre of the 12th century, an old church and school of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary located in the old city, currently used as a cultural centre.
  • Madrasa Moqaddamiye, one of the oldest theological school in the city built in 1168, with a porch sporting arabesque medallions. It was also converted to this use after the Crusades.
  • Madrasa Zahiriye, built in 1217 to the south of Bab al-Maqam, by Az-Zahir Ghazi.
  • Madrasa Sultaniye, begun by Aleppo governor Az-Zahir Ghazi and completed between 1223–1225 by his son Malek al-Aziz Mohammed. The building is most famous for the mirhab of the prayer room.
  • Madrasa Al-Firdaws mosque, defined as "the most beautiful of the mosques of Aleppo".[50] It was built by the widow of governor Az-Zahir Ghazi in 1234–1237, then regent for the Ayyubid ruler An-Nasir Yusuf. Notable is the courtyard, which has a pool in the middle surrounded by arches with ancient columns, sporting capitals with a honeycomb pattern. The same style characterizes the domes of the prayer hall. Also fine is the mirhab, decorated with arabesque motifs.
  • Khanqah AL-Farafira, a 13th century sufi monastery built in 1237.
  • Bimaristan Arghun al-Kamili, an asylum functioned from 1354 until the early 20th century.
  • Dar Rajab Pasha, a large mansion built during the 16th century near Al-Khandaq street. Recently, the house was renovated and turned into an important cultural centre attached with a big theatre hall.
  • Beit Jonblat, an old palace built at the end of the 16th century by the Kurdish ruler of Aleppo Hussein Pasha Jan Polad.
  • Madrasa Al-Uthmaniyah, an islamic educational complex located in the northern neighborhood of Bab al-Nasr. It was established by the Ottoman pasha Al-Duraki in 1730, and was originally named Madrasa Ridaiya.
  • Beit Marrash, an old Aleppine mansion located in Al-Farafira quarter, built at the end of the 18th century by the Marrash family.
  • Bab Al-Faraj Clock Tower, built in 1898-1899 by the Austrian architect Chartier.[51]
  • Grand Seray d'Alep, the former seat of the governor of Aleppo, built during the 1920s and opened in 1933.
  • National Library of Aleppo, built during the 1930s and opened in 1945.[52]

The most significant historic buildings of Jdeydeh Christian quarter include:[53]

  • Beit Wakil, an Aleppine mansion built in 1603, with unique wooden decorations. One of its decorations was taken to Berlin and exhibited in Pergamon Museum, known as the Aleppo Room.
  • Beit Achiqbash, an old Aleppine house built in 1757. The building is home to the Popular Traditions Museum since 1975, showing fine decorations of the Aleppine art.
  • Beit Ghazaleh, an old 17th century mansion characterized with fine decorations, carved by the Armenian sculptor Khachadur Bali in 1691. It was used as an Armenian elementary school during the 20th century.
  • Dar Zamaria, built at the end of the 17th century and owned by Zamaria family since the early 18th century. Nowadays, the house is turned into a boutiqe hotel.
  • Dar Basile, an early 18th century Aleppine house, turned into Business school since 2001.
  • Beit Dallal or Dallal House, built in 1826 on the place of an old church and a monastery, now converted into a hotel.

Religious buildings

Khusruwiyah Mosque
  • Al-Shuaibiyah mosque, also known as al-Omari, al-Tuteh and al-Atras mosque, is the oldest mosque in Aleppo, built in 637. It includes the ancient Roman triumphal arch, which once marked the beginning of the decumanus. The building was entirely renovated in 1146. It is known for its 12th century kufic inscription and decorations.
  • Great Mosque of Aleppo (Jāmi‘ Bani Omayya al-Kabīr), founded c. 715 by Umayyad caliph Walid I and most likely completed by his successor Sulayman. The building contains a tomb associated with Zachary, father of John the Baptist. Construction of the present structure for Nur al-Din commenced in 1158. However, it was damaged during the Mongol invasion of 1260, and was rebuilt. The 45 m-high tower (described as "the principal monument of medieval Syria")[50] was erected in 1090–1092 under the first Seljuk sultan, Tutush I. It has four façades with different styles.
  • Al-Nuqtah Mosque ("Mosque of the drop [of blood]"), a Shī‘ah mosque, which contains a stone said to be marked by a drop of Husayn's blood. The site is believed to have previously been a monastery, which was converted into a mosque in 944.
  • Altun Bogha Mamluk-era mosque, built in 1318.
  • Al-Sahibiyah mosque built in 1350, adjacent to Khan Al-Wazir.
  • Al-Tawashi mosque built in 1398 and restored in 1537. Has a great façade decorated with colonnettes.
  • The small funerary of Al-Otrush mosque, built in 1409, in Mameluke style. It has a highly decorated entrance portal in its façade. It was resotred in 1922.
  • Al-Saffahiyah Mosque, erected in 1425 and partly renovated in 1925. It is famous for its preciously decorated octagonal minaret.
  • Khusruwiyah Mosque completed in 1547, designed by the famous Armenian-Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan.
  • Al-Adiliyah Mosque, built in 1557[54] by the Ottoman governor of Aleppo Muhammed Pasha. It has a prayer hall preceded by an arcade, with a dome, a mihrab with local faience tiles.
  • Al-Qaiqan mosque ("Mosque of the Crows"), decorated with two ancient columns in basalt at the entrance. It includes a stone block with a Anatolian hieroglyphs inscription.
  • The old church of the Holy Mother of God of the Armenian Apostolic Church at Jdeydeh quarter, built before 1429.
  • The Forty Martyrs Armenian Apostolic cathedral of the 15th century located in Jdeydeh quarter.
  • Mar Assia Al-Hakim Syrian Catholic church of the 15th century in Jdeydeh.
  • The Dormition of Our Lady Greek Orthodox church of the 15th century in Jdeydeh.
  • Churches of Jdeydeh Christian quarter such as the Maronite Saint Elias Cathedral, the Armenian Catholic Cathedral of Our Mother of Reliefs and the Melkite Greek Catholic Cathedral of Virgin Mary.
  • The Central Synagogue of Aleppo or Al-Bandara synagogue, completed as early as the 9th century by the efforts of the Jewish community. The synagogue was ruined several times until 1428 when it was restored. Recently, the building was renovated by the efforts of Aleppine Jewish migrants in USA.


Gate of Antioch rebuilt during the 11th century

The old part of the city is surrounded with 5 kilometers long thick walls, pierced by the nine historical gates (many of them are well-preserved) of the old town. These are, clockwise from the north-east of the citadel:


  • Hammams of Aleppo include: Hammam Yalbugha, Hammam Al-Nahhaseen and Hammam Bab Al-Ahmar.
  • The Public Park of Aleppo which was opened in the 1940s is the largest in Syria. It is located in Aziziyeh area, where Quweiq river breaks through the green park.
  • The Blue Lagoon is a modern water park located just outside Aleppo. It has several pools, toboggans, bars and restaurants.


Achiqbash house-museum
  • National Museum of Aleppo.
  • Museum of the popular traditions -the Aleppine House- at Beit Achiqbash in Jdeydeh.
  • Aleppo Citadel museum.
  • Museum of medicine and science at Bimaristan Arghun al-Kamili.
  • Aleppo Memory Museum at Beit Ghazaleh in Jdeydeh.
  • Museum of the Armenian Apostolic Church -Zarehian Treasury- at the old Armenian church of the Holy Mother of God at Jdeydeh.

Nearby attractions and the Dead Cities

Aleppo is surrounded by historical sites, or Dead Cities. They are a group of 700 abandoned settlements in northwest Syria. Those cities date back to before the 5th century AD and contain remains of Christian Byzantine architecture. Many are located in the Mount Simeon and Jabal Halaqa regions at the western suburbs of Aleppo, within the range of Limestone Massif.[55]

Dead cities and archeological sites in Jabal Semaan (Mount Simeon) near Aleppo include:

  • Kalota Castle and churches, located 20 km northwest of Aleppo. The castle was originally built as a Roman temple during the 2nd century AD. After converting to Christianity, the temple was turned into a basilica within the 5th century.[56] As a result of the wars between the Hamadanids and the Byzantine Empire, the church was turned into a castle during the 10th century.[57] There are two well-preserved churches near the castle: the eastern church built in 492 and the western church of the 6th century.
Kharab Shams Basilica
  • Kharab Shams Basilica, one of the oldest best-preserved Christian instructures in the Levant.[58] The Byzantine church which is located 21 km (13 mi) northwest of Aleppo; dates back to the 4th century.
  • Fafertin Church, a half-ruined Roman basilica dates back to 372 AD, located 22 km (14 mi) northwest of Aleppo. According to the Aleppine historian Abdallah Hajjar, Fafertin Basilica is considered to be one of the oldest dated church-structures in the world.[59]
  • Surqanya village, located 23 km (14 mi) northwest of Aleppo, the site of the remains of an old Byzantine settlement with a half-ruined 6th century chapel.
  • Kafr Kira settlement in Burj Heidar village, located 24 km (15 mi) northwest of Aleppo. The site is home to many half-ruined Christian structures dating back to the 4th and 6th centuries.
  • Sinhar historic settlement, commonly known as Simkhar, located 24 km (15 mi) northwest of Aleppo. Situated in an isolated valley, the village was inhabited between the 2nd and 7th centuries. The Basilic church of Sinhar is one of the most oldest churches in Syria and dates back to the 4th century, while the nearby chapel is from the 6th century.
Mushabbak Basilica
  • Mushabbak Basilica, a well-preserved church from the second half of the 5th century (around 470), located 25 km (16 mi) west of Aleppo, near the town of Daret A'zzeh.
  • Barjaka or Burj Suleiman village, a historic settlement located 26 km (16 mi) northwest of Aleppo, the site of an old hermit tower and a well-preserved chapel from the 6th century.
  • Churches of Sheikh Suleiman village, located 28 km (17 mi) west of Aleppo. The village is home to 3 ancient churches: the ruined church which is located at the centre of the village, the well-preserved southern basilica which was built in 602 and the Virgin Mary Church of the late 5th century which is considered to be one of the most beautiful churches in northern Syria.[60] There is a hermit tower in the northern side of the village.
  • Kafr Nabo settlement, located 29 km (18 mi) west of Aleppo. An old Assyrian settlement of the 9th century BC and the site of an old Roman temple which was converted into a church. There ar many well-preserved residential buildings from the 5th and 6th centuries.
  • Brad, an ancient settlement, located 32 km (20 mi) west of Aleppo; the site of many old basilicas such as Saint Julianus Maronite monastery (399-402 AD) where the shrine of Saint Maron is located, and a basilica at the northern part of the village built in 561.
  • Kimar settlement near Basuta village, located 35 km (22 mi) northwest of Aleppo. A historical village of the Roman and the Byzantine eras, dates back to the 5th century AD, contains many well-preserved churches, towers and old water reservoirs.
  • Church of Saint Simeon Stylites (Deir Semaan), a well-preserved church and one of the most celebrated ecclesiastical monuments in Syria, dates back to the 5th century, located about 35 km (22 mi) northwest of Aleppo. Deir Semaan is one of the oldest standing Christian churches in the world.
  • Sugane village, located 40 km (25 mi) northwest of Aleppo. It is home to two half-ruined churches and old water reservoires.
  • Ain Dara temple, an Iron Age Syro-Hittite temple dating back to between the 10th and 8th centuries BC, located 45 km (28 mi) northwest of Aleppo.
  • Bab Al-Hawa village, located 50 km (31 mi) west of Aleppo on the Turkish border; the site of many old churches of the 4th century and a well preserved historical gate from the 6th century AD.
  • Cyrrhus, an ancient city located 65 km (40 mi) north of Aleppo; the site of Saints Cosmas and Damian Church (commonly known as Nabi Houri church) as well as an old Roman amphitheatre and two old Roman bridges.

Many other sites and dead cities in the area, are located on various distances around Aleppo such as Qal'at Najm, Ebla, Serjilla, Bara, Qalb Lozeh Basilica, Baqirha Byzantine Church, Deir Mishmish Church, Benastur Monastery, Deir Amman churches, Sargible settlement, Tell A'de Church and Monastery and other settlements in Jabal Halaqa region.

Preservation of the ancient city

Hammam Al-Nahhaseen in the old city

As an ancient trading centre, Aleppo's impressive suqs, khans, hammams, madrasas, mosques and churches are all in need of more care and preservation work. After World War II, the city was significantly redesigned; in 1954 French architect André Gutton had a number of wide new roads cut through the city to allow easier passage for modern traffic. Between 1954-1983 many buildings in the old city were demolished to allow for the construction of modern apartment blocks, particularly in the northwestern areas (Bab al-Faraj and Bab al-Jinan). As awareness for the need to preserve this unique cultural heritage increased, Gutton's master plan was finally abandoned in 1979 to be replaced with a new plan presented by the Swiss expert and urban designer Stefano Bianca, which adopted the idea of "preserving the traditional architectural style of Ancient Aleppo" paving the way for UNESCO to declare the Old City of Aleppo as a World Heritage Site in 1986.[16]

Several international institutions have joined efforts with local authorities and the Aleppo Archeological Society, to rehabilitate the old city by accommodating contemporary life while preserving the old one. The governorate and the municipality are implementing serious programmes directed towards the enhancement of the ancient city and Jdeydeh quarter.

The German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) and Aga Khan Foundation (within the frames of Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme) have a great contribution in the preservation process of the old city.



A Jewish woman and a couple of Bedouins in Aleppo, 1873
Historical populations
Year Pop. ±%
1883 99,179
1901 108,143 +9.0%
1922 156,748 +44.9%
1925 210,000 +34.0%
1934 249,921 +19.0%
1944 325,000 +30.0%
1950 362,500 +11.5%
1960 425,467 +17.4%
1965 500,000 +17.5%
1983 639,000 +27.8%
1990 1,216,000 +90.3%
1995 1,500,000 +23.4%
2000 1,937,858 +29.2%
2004 2,181,061 +12.6%
2005 2,301,570 +5.5%

According to the Aleppine historian Sheikh Kamel Al-Ghazzi (1853–1933), the population of Aleppo was around 400,000 before the disastrous earthquake of 1822. Followed by cholera and plague attacks in 1823 and 1827 respectively, the population of the city declined to 110,000 by the end of the 19th century.[61] In 1901, the total population of Aleppo was 108,143 of which Muslims were 76,329 (70.58%), Christians -mostly Catholics- 24,508 (22.66%) and Jews 7,306 (6.76%).[62]

Aleppo's large Christian population swelled with the influx of Armenian and Syriac Christian refugees during the early 20th-century and after the Armenian Genocide of 1915. After the arrival of the first groups of Armenian refugees (1915–1922) the population of Aleppo in 1922 counted 156,748 of which Muslims were 97,600 (62.26%), native Christians -mostly Catholics- 22,117 (14.11%), Jews 6,580 (4.20%), Europeans 2,652 (1.70%), Armenian refugees 20,007 (12.76%) and others 7,792 (4.97%).[63][64]

The second period of Armenian flow towards Aleppo marked with the withdrawal of the French troops from Cilicia in 1923.[65] After the arrival of more than 40,000 Armenian refugees between 1923–1925, the population of the city reached up to 210,000 by the end of 1925, where Armenians formed more than 25% of it.[66]

According to the historical data presented by Sheikh Kamel Al-Ghazzi, the vast majority of the Aleppine Christians were Catholics until the last days of the Ottoman rule. The growth of the Orthodox Christians is related with the arrival of the Armenian and Syrian Christian genocide-survivors from Cilicia and Southern Turkey, while on the other hand, large numbers of Orthodox Greeks from the Sanjak of Alexandretta arrived in Aleppo, after the annexation of the Sanjak in 1939 in favour of Turkey.

In 1944, Aleppo's population was around 325,000, with 112,110 (34.5%) Christians among which Armenians have counted 60,200. Armenians formed more than half of the Christian community in Aleppo until 1947, when many groups of them left for Soviet Armenia within the frames of Armenian Repatriation Process (1946-1967).

Current status

Ar-Rahman mosque

Aleppo is the most populous city in Syria, with a population of 2,181,061 as indicated in the official census of 2004. According to the official estimate announced by Aleppo City Council, the population of the city reached up to 2,301,570 by the end of 2005.

More than 80% of Aleppo's inhabitants are Sunni Muslims. They are mainly Arabs followed by Kurds and Turkmens. Other Muslim groups include few numbers of ethnic Circassians, Chechens, Adyghe, Albanians, Bosnians, Bulgarians, and Kabardin.

Being one of the largest Christian communities in the Middle East, Aleppo is home to many eastern Christian congregations, mainly Armenians, Syrian Christians and Melkite Greeks. Nowadays, more than 250,000 Christians live in the city representing about 12% of the total population. A significant number of the Syrian Christians in Aleppo speak the Armenian language and hail from the city of Urfa in Turkey. The large community of Orthodox Christians belongs to the Armenian Apostolic, Syrian Orthodox and Greek Orthodox Churches. There is also a strong presence of Catholic Christians in the city including Melkite Greeks, Maronites, Latins, Chaldeans and Syrian Catholics. Evangelical Christians of different groups are a minority in the city. Several areas have a Christian and Armenian majority, such as the old Christian quarter of Jdeydeh. Modern Christian districts include Aziziyeh, Suleimaniyeh, Gare de Baghdad, Ourubeh and Meydan. There are 45 operating churches in the city, possessed by the abovementioned Christian congregations.

The Arabic-speaking population of Aleppo uses the North Syrian dialect of the Levantine Arabic.

Jews in Aleppo

The city was home to a significant Jewish population from ancient times. The Great Synagogue, built in the 5th century, housed the Aleppo codex. In the early 20th-century, the towns Jews mainly lived in Al-Jamiliyah, Bab Al-Naser and the neighborhoods around the Great Synagogue. Unrest in Palestine in the years preceding the establishment of Israel in 1948 resulted in growing hostility towards Jews living in Arab countries. In December 1947, after the UN decided the partition of Palestine, an Arab mob attacked the Jewish quarter. Homes, schools and shops were badly damaged.[67] Soon after, many of the town's remaining 6,000 Jews emigrated.[68] In 1968, there were an estimated 700 Jews still remaining in Aleppo.[69]

The houses and other properties of the Jewish families which were not sold after the migration, remain uninhabited under the protection of the Syrian Government. Most of these properties are in Al-Jamiliyah and Bab Al-Naser areas, and the neighborhoods around the Central synagogue of Aleppo. Eventually, the Syrian government lifted restriction on its Jewish citizens with the sole condition that they did not travel to Israel to settle there. Most travelled to the USA, where a sizeable Syrian Jewish community currently exists in Brooklyn, New York. Today, only a handful of Jewish families live in Aleppo, and many of the buildings such as the synagogue and the Jewish school remain empty, only to be used for special events and religious ceremonies.


Trade and industry

Traditional textile and rug markets

The main role of the city was as a trading place throughout the history, as it sat at the crossroads of two trade routes and mediated the trade from India, the Tigris and Euphrates regions and the route coming from Damascus in the South, which traced the base of the mountains rather than the rugged seacoast. Although trade was often directed away from the city for political reasons, it continued to thrive until the Europeans began to use the Cape route to India and later to utilize the route through Egypt to the Red Sea.

The commercial traditions in Aleppo have deep roots in the history. The Aleppo Chamber of commerce founded in 1885, is one of the oldest chambers in the Middle East and the Arab world. According to many historians, Aleppo was the most developed commercial and industrial city in the Ottoman Empire after Constantinople and Cairo.

Being the largest urban area in the Syrian Republic, the economy of Aleppo is driven by textiles, chemicals, pharmaceutics, agro-processing industries, electricals, alcoholic beverages, engineering and tourism. It is the country’s dominant manufacturing centre, with a share of more than 50% of manufacturing employment and an even greater export share.[70] Being located in a highly productive agricultural region, Aleppo supplies agricultural inputs and processes much of its agricultural output.

Possessing the most developed commercial and industrial plants in Syria, Aleppo is a major centre for manufacturing precious metals and stones.

The industrial city of Aleppo in Sheikh Najjar district is one of the largest ones in Syria and the region. Occupying an area of 4412 hectares in the north-eastern suburbs of Aleppo, the total investments in the city counted more than US$ 3.4 billion during 2010.[71] Still under development, it is envisaged to open hotels, exhibition centres and other facilities within the industrial city.

The old traditional crafts are well-preserved in the old part of the city. The famous laurel soap of Aleppo is considered to be the world's first hard soap.[72]


The restored square of the citadel

Aleppo is one of the fastest-growing cities in Syria and the Middle East. Many villagers and inhabitants of other Syrian districts are migrating to Aleppo in an effort to find better job opportunities, a fact that always increases population pressure, with a growing demand for new residential capacity. New districts and residential communities have been built in the suburbs of Aleppo, many of them are still under construction as of 2010.

Two major construction projects are scheduled in Aleppo: the "Old City Revival" project and the "Reopening of the stream bed of Quweiq River".

  • The Old City revival project completed its first phase by the end of 2008, and the second phase started in early 2010. The purpose of the project is the preservation of the old city of Aleppo with its souqs and khans, and restoration of the narrow alleys of the old city and the roads around the citadel.
  • The restoration of Quweiq River is directed towards the revival of the flow of the Quweiq River, demolishing both the artificial cover of the stream bed and the reinforcement of the stream banks along the river in the city centre. The flow of the river was blocked during the 1960s by the Turks, turning the river into a tiny sewage channel, leading the authorities to cover the stream. In 2006 the flow of pure water was restored through the efforts of the Syrian government, thus granting a new life to the Quweiq River.

Like other major Syrian cities, Aleppo is suffering from the dispersal of informal settlements, with almost half of its population (around 1.2 million) are estimated to live in 22 informal settlements of different types.[73]

Aleppo International Airport.



Aleppo was one of the first parts of Syria to obtain railway connection, with the Ottoman Empire building the Baghdad Railway through the city in 1912. The connections to Turkey and onwards to Ankara still exist today, with a twice weekly train from Damascus. It is perhaps for this historical reason that Aleppo is the headquarters of Syria national railway network, Chemins de Fer Syriens. As the railway has a relatively slow speed of passage, much of the passenger traffic to the port of Latakia had moved to road based air-conditioned coaches. But this has reversed in recent years with the 2005 introduction of South Korean built DMU's proving regular bi-hourly express service to both Latakia and Damascus, which miss intermediate stations.


Aleppo International Airport (IATA: ALP, ICAO: OSAP) is the international airport serving the city. The airport serves as a secondary hub for Syrian Arab Airlines. The history of the airport dates back to the beginning of the 20th century. It was upgraded and developed within the years until 1999 when the new current terminal was inaugurated.[74]


As the main economical centre of Syria, Aleppo has a large number of educational institutions. Along with the Aleppo University, there are state colleges and private universities which attract large numbers of students from other regions of Syria and the Arab countries. The number of the students in Aleppo University is more than 60 thousand. The university has 18 faculties and 8 technical colleges in the city of Aleppo.

Aleppo is home to one of the most developed military academies in the region; the "Al-Assad Military Engineering Academy" (Arabic: أكاديمية الأسد للهندسة العسكرية‎).

As of 2010, there are three private universities operating in the city: Private University of Science and Arts (PUSA), Gulf University (GU), and Mamoun University for Science and Technology (MUST).

Branches of the state conservatory and the fine arts school are also operating in the city.

Aleppo is home to several Christian and Armenian community-schools, and two international schools: International School of Aleppo and Lycée Français d'Alep.


Musicians from Aleppo, 18th century

Aleppo is considered one of the main centres of Arabic traditional and classic music with the famous Aleppine Muwashshahs, Qudoods and Maqams (religious and secular poetic-musical genres). Aleppines in general are fond of Arab classical music, the Tarab, and it is not a surprise that many artists from Aleppo are considered pioneers among the Arabs in classic and traditional music. The most prominent figures in this field are Sabri Mdallal, Sabah Fakhri, Shadi Jameel, Abed Azrie and Nour Mhanna. Many iconic artists of the Arab music like Sayed Darwish and Mohammed Abdel Wahab were visiting Aleppo to recognize the legacy of Aleppine art and learn from its cultural heritage.

Aleppo is also known for its knowledgeable and cultivated listeners, known as sammi'a or "connoisseur listeners".[75] Aleppine musicians often claim that no major Arab artist achieved fame without first earning the approval of the Aleppine sammi'a.[76]

Aleppo hosts many music shows and festivals every year at the citadel amphitheatre, such as the "Syrian Song Festival", the "Silk Road Festival" and "Khan al-Harir Festival".


The most popular sport in Aleppo is football. Aleppo has many football clubs, among which only Al-Ittihad Aleppo, plays in the Syrian National Football League's top division for the season 2009–2010. The city is the home of Syria's largest sports venue; the Aleppo International Stadium with a capacity of 75,000 spectators.[77]

Major sport clubs in the city include:

Al-Ittihad Aleppo
Jalaa Sporting Club
Al-Yarmouk Sports Club
Ourubeh Club

Al-Ittihad is the biggest and most popular club in Syria. The club has its own stadium with a capacity of 12,000 spectators, but due to the huge number of the supporters, they use the main stadiums of the city: Al-Hamadaniah Stadium and the Aleppo International Stadium. On the other hand, the 2nd division teams; Al-Horriya and Al Yarmouk, use the April 7th Municipal Stadium which can serve about 17,000 spectators.

Basketball in its turn is also popular in Aleppo. 4 clubs out of 12 in the Syrian Basketball men's top division are from Aleppo, while five Aleppine clubs are included in the women's top division, making up to 50% of the total participants (as of 2010-2011 season).

Many other types of sports are being practiced by the abovementioned clubs as well as other small clubs. tennis, handball, volleyball, table tennis and swimming are among the favorites.


The Syrian cuisine in general and especially the Aleppine cuisine is very rich of its multiple types of dishes. Being surrounded by olive, nut and fruit orchards, Aleppo is famous for a love of eating, as the cuisine is the product of fertile land and location along the Silk Road. Therefore, it's not a surprise that the International Academy of Gastronomy in France awarded Aleppo its culinary prize in 2007.[78] But in fact, Aleppo was a food capital long before Paris, because of its diverse communities combined by Arabs, Kurds, Armenians, Circassians and a sizable Arab Christian population. All of those groups contributed food traditions, since Aleppo was part of the Ottoman Empire.

The city has a vast selection of different types of dishes, such as kabab, kibbeh, dolma, hummus, ful halabi, za'atar halabi, etc. Ful halabi, is a typical Aleppine breakfast meal: fava bean soup with a splash of olive oil, lemon juice and Aleppo's red peppers. The kibbeh is one of the most favourite foods for the locals, and that's why the Aleppines have invented more than 17 types of kibbeh dishes, which is considered a form of art for them. The za'atar of Aleppo (thyme) is a type of Syrian oregano which is very popular among Arabs, Armenians and Turks. The most favourite drink is Arak, which is usually consumed along with meze, Aleppine grills and kibbehs. Al-Chark beer which is manufactured in Aleppo is also a favourite.

Aleppo is the origin of many different types of sweets and pastries. The Aleppine sweets are characterized to contain high rates of ghee butter and sugar, such as mabrumeh, swar es-sett, balloriyyeh, etc. Other sweets include mamuniyeh, shuaibiyyat, mushabbak, zilebiyeh, ghazel al-banat etc. Most of the pastries can contain the renowned Aleppine pistachios or other types of nuts.

Integrated Urban Development in Aleppo

Khan al-Wazir and al-Sahibiyah Mosque

The "Integrated Urban Development in Aleppo" (UDP) is a joint programme between the German Development Cooperation (GTZ) and the Municipality of Aleppo.[79] The programme promotes capacities for sustainable urban management and development at the national and municipal level.

The Programme has three fields of work:

  1. Aleppo City Development Strategy (CDS): promoting support structures for the municipality, including capacity building, networking, and developing municipal strength in the national development dialogue.
  2. Informal Settlements (IS): includes strategy and management development of informal settlements.
  3. The Project for the Rehabilitation of the Old City of Aleppo (OCA): includes further support to the rehabilitation of the Old City, as well as to a long-term oriented city development strategy.

The UDP cooperates closely with other interventions in the sector, namely the EU-supported 'Municipal Administration Modernization' programme. It is planned to operate from 2007 to 2016.

Municipality and International relations

Aleppo, the Capital of Islamic Culture 2006
The old street around the citadel at Oghlubek quarter

The city of Aleppo is the capital of Aleppo Governorate and the centre of Jabal Semaan district. Aleppo City Council is the governing body of the city. The first municipality council was formed in 1868.[80] However, the governor -in his turn- enjoys the highest authority over the city and the entire governorate.


Aleppo is divided into many districts:

The following quarters within the walls of the ancient city are centred by the citadel:

  • Al-A'ajam الأعجام
  • Altunbogha ألتونبوغا
  • Aqabeh العقبة
  • Bahsita بحسيتا
  • Bandara البندرة
  • Bayadah البياضة
  • Farafira الفرافرة
  • Jalloum الجلوم
  • Jbeileh الجبيلة
  • Maghazleh المغازلة
  • Mustadmiyeh المستدمية
  • Oghlubek أوغلبك
  • Qala'at al-Sharif قلعة الشريف
  • Al-Qasileh القصيلة
  • Saffahiyah السفاحية
  • Sahet Bizzeh ساحة بزة
  • Suq al-Madina سوق المدينة
  • Tallet Alsauda تلة السودة

Significant old quarters outside the walls of the ancient city include:

Al-Hatab square at Jdeydeh quarter
  • Abraj الأبراج
  • Aghyol أقيول
  • Almaji ألمجي
  • Ballat البلاط
  • Basatneh البساتنة
  • Banqusa بانقوسا
  • Fardos الفردوس
  • Hazzazeh (Sayed Ali) (الهزازة (السيد علي
  • Jdeydeh quarter (Beit Meheb) (الجديدة (بيت محب
  • Ma'adi المعادي
  • Maghayer المغاير
  • Qarleq قرلق
  • Qastal Harami قسطل الحرامي
  • Sajlikhan صاجليخان
  • Shara'sous الشرعسوس
  • Tadribeh التدريبة
  • Wakiliyeh الوكيلية

Significant modern districts include:

  • A'zamaiyeh الأعظمية
  • Andalus الأندلس
  • Ansari الأنصاري
  • Ashrafiyeh الأشرفية
  • Al-Assad neighborhood ضاحية الأسد
  • Aziziyeh العزيزية
  • Bostan Kelab بستان كل آب
  • Furqan الفرقان
  • Gare de Baghdad محطة بغداد
  • Hamdaniyeh الحمدانية
  • Hamidiyeh الحميدية
  • Hanano city مدينة هنانو
  • Hariri الحريري
  • Jamiliyeh الجميلية
  • Kallaseh الكلاسة
  • Kawakibi (Martini) (الكواكبي (المارتيني
  • Khalidiyeh الخالدية
  • Masharqa المشارقة
  • Midan الميدان
  • Muhafaza المحافظة
  • New Aleppo حلب الجديدة
  • New Shahba الشهباء الجديدة
  • Omran العمران
  • Ourubeh العروبة
  • As-Sabil السبيل
  • Saif al-Daulah سيف الدولة
  • Sakhur الصاخور
  • Salah ad-Din صلاح الدين
  • Salheen الصالحين
  • Sha'ar الشعار
  • Shahba (Mogambo) (الشهباء (موغامبو
  • Share' an-Nil شارع النيل
  • Sheikh Maqsoud الشيخ مقصود
  • Shuhada الشهداء
  • Suleimaniyeh السليمانية
  • The Syriac quarter السريان
  • Tariq ibn Ziyad طارق بن زياد
  • Az-Zahra الزهراء
  • Az-Zuhoor الزهور

Twin towns — sister cities

Currently, Aleppo has four sister and partner cities:

Notable people

Photo gallery

Preceded by
Capital of islamic culture
Succeeded by

See also


  1. ^ a b Syria News statement by Syrian Minister of Local Administration, Syria (Arabic, August 2009)
  2. ^ a b Aleppo City official web Population facts
  3. ^ Central Bureau of Statistics Syria Syria census 2004
  4. ^ UN Data, Syrian Arab republic
  5. ^ "UN Demographic Yearbook 2009". Retrieved 2010-04-21. 
  6. ^ Navigating the Major Cities of Syria
  7. ^ Encyclopedia of the Ottoman Empire
  8. ^ Russell, Alexander (1794), The natural history of Aleppo, 2nd Edition, Vol. I, pp. 1-2
  9. ^ a b Gaskin, James J. (1846), Geography and sacred history of Syria, pp. 33-34
  10. ^ Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition (2010)
  11. ^ The Oxford encyclopedia of archaeology in the Near East (1997)
  12. ^ Britannica Concise Encyclopedia (2010)
  13. ^ World Heritage Site: Aleppo
  14. ^ Travels of Rabbi Pesachia of Regensburg. (p. 53).
  15. ^ a b Alexander Russell, ed (1856). The Natural History of Aleppo (1st ed.). London: Unknown. p. 266. 
  16. ^ a b "eAleppo:Aleppo city major plans throughout the history" (in Arabic). 
  17. ^ Qishri & Samsoum (2009) Aleppo Governorate, a Study of Geographic Climatology (Arabic) (numbers are from the Syrian Meteorological General Directorate)
  18. ^ "Average Conditions Aleppo, Syria". BBC Weather. Retrieved 2010-11-03. 
  19. ^ Pettinato, Giovanni (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991) Ebla, a new look at history p.135
  20. ^ a b c d e Hawkins, John David (2000) Inscriptions of the iron age p.388
  21. ^ Kuhrt, Amélie (1998) The ancient Near East p.100
  22. ^ a b c Phenix, Robert R. (2008) The sermons on Joseph of Balai of Qenneshrin
  23. ^ Jackson, Peter (July 1980). "The Crisis in the Holy Land in 1260". The English Historical Review 95 (376): 481–513. 
  24. ^ "Histoire des Croisades", René Grousset, p. 581, ISBN 226202569X.
  25. ^ Kay Kaufman Shelemay (1998). Let jasmine rain down: song and remembrance among Syrian Jews. University of Chicago Press. p. 70. ISBN 9780226752112. Retrieved 24 November 2010. 
  26. ^ Runciman, p. 314.
  27. ^ Runciman, pp. 336–337.
  28. ^ Runciman, p. 463.
  29. ^ Battle of
  30. ^ a b c Ágoston and Masters (2009), Encyclopedia of the Ottoman Empire
  31. ^ Aleppo in History (in Arabic)
  32. ^ Suraiya Faroqhi, Halil İnalcık, Donald Quataert (1997). "An economic and social history of the Ottoman Empire". Cambridge University Press. p.788. ISBN 0521574552
  33. ^ a b M. Andrew & Sydney Kanya-Forstner (1981) The climax of French imperial expansion, 1914-1924
  34. ^ a b Fieldhouse, David Kenneth (2006) Western imperialism in the Middle East 1914-1958
  35. ^ LaMaziere, Pierre (1926) Partant pour la Syrie
  36. ^ Seale, Patrick (1990) Asad: The Struggle for the Middle East
  37. ^ The centrelization of Economy in Syria
  38. ^ حلب عاصمة الثقافة الإسلامية-Aleppo the Capital of Islamic Culture. Retrieved 2010-02-01.
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^ Reuters:Travel Postcard: 48 hours in Aleppo, Syria
  43. ^
  44. ^ Alepposeife: Aleppo history
  45. ^ eAleppo: The old Suqs of Aleppo (in Arabic)
  46. ^ " Old suqs of Aleppo (in Arabic)". 
  47. ^ "Al-Hakawati (in Arabic)". 
  48. ^ " Khans of Aleppo (in Arabic)". 
  49. ^ DP-news:Aleppo…Cultural Landmark, Trade Hub by the Chinese News Agency (Xinhua)
  50. ^ a b Burns, Russ (1999). Monuments of Syria. New York, London. p. 35. 
  51. ^ eAleppo Bab Al-Faraj tower (in Arabic)
  52. ^ Aleppo Culture National Library of Aleppo (in Arabic)
  53. ^ "Ministry of Tourism, Syria: Aleppine House (in Arabic)". 
  54. ^ Syrian Ministry of Tourism Baba Antakya & Qennesrin
  55. ^ Ancient villages (dead cities)
  56. ^ eAleppo:Kalota village (in Arabic)
  57. ^ Qenshrin:Kalota Church (in Arabic)
  58. ^ eAleppo:Kharab Shams Kharab Shams in history (in Arabic)
  59. ^ eAleppo:Fafertin Church (in Arabic)
  60. ^ Jamahir News:Walking through the ruins (in Arabic)
  61. ^ Saint Terezia Church Aleppo Christians in Aleppo at the end of the Ottoman Empire
  62. ^ Alepppo in One Hundred Years 1850- 1950, vol.2 page 3, 1994 Aleppo. Authors: Mohammad Fuad Ayntabi and Najwa Othman
  63. ^ Alepppo in One Hundred Years 1850-1950, vol.3 page 26, 1994 Aleppo. Authors: Mohammad Fuad Ayntabi and Najwa Othman
  64. ^ The Golden River in the History of Aleppo, (Arabic: نهر الذهب في تاريخ حلب‎), vol.1 (1922) page 256, published in 1991, Aleppo. Author: Sheikh Kamel Al-Ghazzi
  65. ^ The Golden River in the History of Aleppo (Arabic: نهر الذهب في تاريخ حلب‎), vol.3 (1925) pages 449-450, published in 1991, Aleppo. Author: Sheikh Kamel Al-Ghazzi
  66. ^ Hovannisian, Richard G. (2004). The Armenian People From Ancient to Modern Times, Volume II: Foreign Dominion to Statehood: The Fifteenth Century to the Twentieth Century. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 425. ISBN 1-4039-6422-X. 
  67. ^ James A. Paul. Human rights in Syria, Middle East Watch. pg. 91.
  68. ^ American Jewish year book, Volume 50 and American Jewish year book, Volume 50, American Jewish Committee, 1949. pg. 441.
  69. ^ Avi Beker. Jewish Communities of the World, Lerner Publishing Group, 1998. pg. 208. ISBN 0822598221.
  70. ^ Madinatuna:Aleppo City Development Strategy Economy
  71. ^ 155 billion Syrian Pounds invested in Aleppo Industrial City (in Arabic)
  72. ^ Aleppo Soap Soap History
  73. ^ "Madinatuna, Aleppo Cite Development Strategy: Informal Settlements". 
  74. ^ Aleppo Int. Airport Historical Overview
  75. ^ Racy, A.J. (2003). Making Music in the Arab World: The Culture and Artistry of Tarab. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 248. ISBN 0-521-31685*5. 
  76. ^ Shannon, Johnathan Holt (2006). Among the Jasmine Trees: Music and Modernity in Contemporary Syria. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press. ISBN 978-0-81956944-8. 
  77. ^
  78. ^ "NPR web: Food Lovers Discover The Joys Of Aleppo". 
  79. ^ UDP-Aleppo
  80. ^ eAleppo:Khans in Aleppo
  81. ^ "Izmir sister cities" (in Turkish). 
  82. ^ "Partner Cities of Lyon and Greater Lyon". © 2008 Mairie de Lyon. Retrieved 2009-07-17. 
  83. ^ "Gaziantep cultural committee: Gaziantep sister cities, Aleppo-Syria (in Turkish)". 
  84. ^ "Jamahir newspaper: 28 January 2010 (in Arabic)". 

External links

Coordinates: 36°13′N 37°10′E / 36.217°N 37.167°E / 36.217; 37.167

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Поможем решить контрольную работу

Look at other dictionaries:

  • ALEPPO — (Ar. Ḥalab; called by the Jews Aram Ẓoba (Aram Ẓova), second largest city in Syria and the center of northern Syria. The Hebrew form of Aleppo (Ḥaleb) is, according to a legend quoted by the 12th century traveler, pethahiah of regensburg ,… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Aleppo — • Armenian Rite Archdiocese in Syria Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Aleppo     Aleppo     † …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Aleppo — n. 1. a city in Syria. [WordNet 1.5] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Aleppo — (Haleb), 1) Ejalet im türkischen Asien, am Mittelmeere, Theil von Syrien; 460 QM., im Osten u. SOsten Wüste, im Norden u. Westen Gebirge: Alma Dagh, Ain Tab u. Libanon, verbinden sich mit dem Taurus, Vorgebirg Totosa (Rhosos); Flüsse: Euphrat …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Aleppo — (arab. Haleb), Hauptstadt des gleichnamigen asiatisch türk. Wilajets, das, den nördlichen Teil von Syrien und den nordwestlichen Teil Mesopotamiens umfassend, in die Liwas Marasch, Urfa u. Haleb geteilt ist. Die Stadt liegt 380 m ü. M. und 300 km …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Aleppo — Aleppo, türk. syr. Stadt, jetzt Haleb (s.d.) …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Aleppo — [ä lep′ə lep′ō] city in NW Syria: pop. 1,494,000: also Alep [ä lep′] …   English World dictionary

  • Aleppo — arabisch ‏حلب‎, DMG Ḥalab Aleppo …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Aleppo — /euh lep oh/, n. a city in NW Syria. 710,636. French, Alep /ann lep /. * * * Arabic Ḥalab City (pop., 1994: 1,582,930), northwestern Syria. Syria s largest city, it is about 30 mi (48 km) from the Turkish border. Lying at the crossroads of great… …   Universalium

  • Aleppo — Original name in latin Aleppo Name in other language ALP, Alep, Alepas, Alepo, Aleppe, Aleppo, Aleppu, Alepp Alp, Berea, Beroea, Chalepi, Gorad Khaleb, Halab, Haleb, Haleba, Halep, Heleb, Hlb, Khaleb, Khalepion, Madinat Halab, Madnat alab, Xalab …   Cities with a population over 1000 database

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”