Syria Tour Guide: Aleppo

Syria Tour Guide: Aleppo Last updated on Monday 26th April 2010

Said to have been built over 5,000 years ago, Aleppo is Syria's second largest city and is a thriving industrial and commercial centre. It has been a major trading centre since Roman times and has been much visited by the merchants of Europe. This lends the modern city a European feel very similar to that of the port of Lattakia.

There is a large Christian population in Aleppo, mainly consisting of Armenian refugees from Turkey and many street signs are written in Armenian script.

The most impressive sight for visitors is the colossal Citadel of Aleppo (pictured), which dominates the entire city. Surrounded by a moat, the citadel has a bridge on the south side, which leads to a large, fortified gate, dating from the 12th century. The interior is mostly ruined, although there is an excellent view of the city from a vantage point on the walls. The citadel's throne room has been well restored.

Aleppo's main attraction is the fascinating area of covered souks, a maze of narrow, twisting streets, reaching 7km (4.5 miles) in length, under a vaulted, stone roof. Absolutely everything is sold here, from spices, to meat to prayer-mats.

The Grand Mosque (Jami'a Zakariyyeh) dates from the 11th century A.D. and is situated at the northern edge of the souk area. The mosque is named after Zakariah, the father of John the Baptist.

Aleppo's museums are the Archaeological Museum in the centre of town, containing many artifacts and statues from local sites, and the Museum of Popular Tradition, situated in the Souk as-Souf (wool market). This contains examples of weapons, clothing and furniture from Syria's past.

Because the city of Aleppo is such a melting-pot of nationalities and cultures, there is a fine selection of local dishes in the restaurants of the modern town. Arab, Turkish, Kurdish, Armenian and Assyrian dishes are all available for the visitor to sample and enjoy.

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