1.a city in northwestern Syria
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ville du monde (fr)[Classe...]
ville du Proche-Orient. (fr)[ClasseParExt.]
ancien protectorat français (fr)[ClasseParExt.]
État du Proche-Orient. (fr)[ClasseParExt.]
Descripteurs EUROVOC (fr)[Thème]
(cathedral), (bishop), (council)[termes liés]
Aleppo (pr. n.)
|• Governor||Mowaffaq Khalluf|
|• Head of City Council||Mohammad Ayman Hallaq|
|• Urban||190 km2 (70 sq mi)|
|Elevation||379 m (1,243 ft)|
|Population (2004 census)|
|Time zone||EET (UTC+2)|
|• Summer (DST)||EEST (UTC+3)|
|Area code(s)||Country code: 963, City code: 21|
|Demonym||Aleppine (less used Aleppan, Alepian)|
|Sources: Aleppo city area  Sources: City population |
Aleppo (Arabic: حلب / ALA-LC: Ḥalab; [ˈħalæb], other names) is the largest city in Syria and the capital of Aleppo Governorate, the most populous Syrian governorate. With an official population of 2,132,100 (2004 census), it is also one of the largest cities in the Levant. For centuries, Aleppo was Greater Syria's largest city and the Ottoman Empire's third, after Constantinople and Cairo.
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. 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; 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. 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|
Aleppo is the common modern-day English name for the city. It was known in antiquity as Khalpe, Khalibon, 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. The colour of his cows was ashen (Arab. shaheb); therefore the city is also called Halab ash-Shahba ("he milked the ash-coloured").
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 Queiq River 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. The old city was enclosed within an ancient wall that was last rebuilt by the Mamlukes. The wall has since disappeared. It had nine gates and was surrounded by a broad deep ditch.
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.
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%.
|Climate data for Aleppo|
|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|
Throughout its history Aleppo has been part of the following states:
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.
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 Armani to the Akkadians. Giovanni Pettinato describes Armi as Ebla's alter ego. Naram-Sin of Akkad destroyed both Ebla and Armani in the 23rd century BC.
In the Old Babylonian period, Aleppo's name appears as Ḥalab (Ḥalba) for the first time. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Beroea remained under Seleucid rule until 88 BC when Syria was occupied by Tigranes the Great and Beroea became part of the Kingdom of Armenia. After the Roman victory over Tigranes, Syria was 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.
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. This agrarian landscape holds now the remains of large estate houses and churches such as the Church of Saint Simeon Stylites. 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.
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.
On 24 January 1260, 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. 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. 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.
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.
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.
In 1400, the Mongol-Turkic leader Tamerlane captured the city again from the Mamluks. He massacred many of the inhabitants, ordering the building of a tower of 20,000 skulls outside the city. 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 at the northern suburbs of Aleppo outside the city walls, to become known as al-Jdeydeh quarter (for "new district" in Arabic).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 1946, 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."
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.
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. 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.
In 2006, Aleppo was named by the Islamic Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) as the capital of Islamic culture.
On 12 August 2011, with the ongoing Syrian unrest, 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 — as claimed by activists — with two protesters being shot dead.
On 19 October 2011, in one of the 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.
On 10 February 2012, suicide car bombs exploded outside two security compounds. The Military Intelligence Directorates' local headquarters, and a Security Preservation forces barracks were attacked. 28 persons were killed and 235 wounded. The dead were four civilians, thirteen military personnel at the military intelligence building and eleven security personnel at the barracks.
On 18 March 2012, a residential neighborhood; mainly populated by Christians, became the target of a terrorist attack after a car bomb blast near a church, where 1 civilian lady and 2 members of security forces died and more than 30 residents were wounded.
Aleppo is characterized by mixed architectural styles, having been ruled, among the other, by Romans, Byzantines, Seljuqs, Mamluks and Ottomans.
Various types of 13th and 14th centuries constructions, such as caravanserais, caeserias, Quranic schools, hammams and religious buildings are found in the old city. The quarters of Jdeydeh district are home to 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.
Since the old city is characterized with its large mansions, narrow alleys and covered souqs, 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.
There is a relatively clear division between old and new Aleppo. The older portions of the city, with an approximate area of 160 hectares 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 the newer quarters of the old city were first built by the Christians during the early 15th century in the northern suburbs of the ancient city, after the Mongol withdrawal from Aleppo. The new quarters were called Jdeydeh. Jdeydeh is one of the finest examples of a cell-like quarter in Aleppo. After Tamerlane 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 suburbs of the city, thus founding the quarters of Jdeydeh. The inhabitants of Jdeydeh were mainly brokers who facilitated trade between foreign traders and local merchants. As a result of the economic development, many other quarters were established outside the walls of the ancient city during the 15th and 16th centuries.
Thus, the Old City of Aleppo -composed of the ancient city within the walls and the old cell-like quarters outside the walls- has an approximate area of 350 hectares (3.5 km²) housing more than 120,000 residents.
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 souq-market in the world is in Aleppo, with an approximate length of 13 kilometers.
Souq al-Madina, 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. Souq al-Madina is also 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) and scattered in the souq. Other types of small market-places were called caeserias (قيساريات). Caeserias were smaller than khans in their sizes and functioned as workshops for craftsmen. Most of the khans took their names after their location in the souq and function, and are characterized with their beautiful façades and entrances with fortified wooden doors.
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:
The most significant historic buildings of the ancient city include:
The most significant historic buildings of Jdeydeh Christian quarter include:
Aleppo was home to 177 hammams during the medieval period, until the Mongol invasion when many vital structures in the city were destroyed. Nowadays, roughly 18 hammams are operating in the old city.
Aleppo's western suburbs are home to a group of historical sites and villages which are commonly known as Dead Cities. Around 700 abandoned settlements in the northwestern parts of Syria prior to the 5th century, contain remains of Christian Byzantine architecture. Many hundreds of those settlements are located in Mount Simeon and Jabal Halaqa regions at the western suburbs of Aleppo, within the range of Limestone Massif. Dead Cites were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011, under the name of "Ancient Villages of Northern Syria".
Many other sites and dead cities in the area, are located on various distances around Aleppo and Idlib such as Qal'at Najm, Ebla, Serjilla, Bara, Qalb Loze 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.
As an ancient trading centre, Aleppo's impressive souqs, 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.
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.
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. 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%).
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%).
The second period of Armenian flow towards Aleppo marked with the withdrawal of the French troops from Cilicia in 1923. 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.
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).
Aleppo is the most populous city in Syria, with a population of 2,132,100 as indicated in the official census of 2004. According to the official estimate announced by the 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. Historically, the city is the main centre of French Catholic Missionaries in Syria. 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 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 town's Jews lived mainly in Al-Jamiliyah, Bab Al-Faraj 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. Soon after, many of the town's remaining 6,000 Jews emigrated. In 1968, there were an estimated 700 Jews still remaining in Aleppo.
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-Faraj areas, and the neighborhoods around the Central synagogue of Aleppo. In 1992, the Syrian government lifted the travel ban on its 4,500 Jewish citizens. 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.
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[why?], 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. 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. Still under development, it is envisaged to open hotels, exhibition centres and other facilities within the industrial city.
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[update].
Two major construction projects are scheduled in Aleppo: the "Old City Revival" project and the "Reopening of the stream bed of Quweiq River".
Like other major Syrian cities, Aleppo is suffering from the dispersal of informal settlements: almost half of its population (around 1.2 million) is estimated to live in 22 informal settlements of different types.
Aleppo was one of the first parts of Syria to be connected to the railway, 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 is relatively slow, 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 providing a 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 in the years to 1999 when the new current terminal was opened.
As the main economic centre of Syria, Aleppo has a large number of educational institutions. Along with the University of Aleppo, 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 60,000. The university has 18 faculties and 8 technical colleges in the city of Aleppo.
Aleppo is home to one of the most advanced 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 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 Jamil, 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". Aleppine musicians often claim that no major Arab artist achieved fame without first earning the approval of the Aleppine sammi'a.
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 and Hurriya SC are playing in the Syrian top division (2011–2012). The city is the home of Syria's largest sports venue; the Aleppo International Stadium with a capacity of 75,000 spectators.
Major sport clubs in the city include:
|Al-Ittihad Aleppo||Aleppo International Stadium|
|Hurriya SC||Al-Hamadaniah Stadium|
|Al-Yarmouk SC Aleppo||Aleppo 7 April Stadium|
|Jalaa FC||Aleppo 7 April Stadium|
|Orouba SC Aleppo||Riayet Al-Shabab Stadium|
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 (2011–2012).
Syrian cuisine in general and especially 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. But in fact, Aleppo was a food capital long before Paris, because of its diverse communities of 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 kebab, 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 garlic and Aleppo's red peppers. The za'atar of Aleppo (thyme) is a type of Syrian oregano which is very popular among Arabs, Armenians and Turks.
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. These include kibbeh prepared with sumac (kәbbe sәmmāʔiyye), yogurt (kәbbe labaniyye), quince (kәbbe safarjaliyye), lemon juice (kәbbe ḥāmḍa), pomegranate sauce, cherry sauce, and other varieties, such as the "disk" kibbeh (kәbbe ʔrāṣ), the "plate" kibbeh (kәbbe bәṣfīḥa or kәbbe bṣēniyye) and the raw kibbeh (kәbbe nayye). Kebab Halabi -influenced by Armenian and Turkish tastes- has around 26 variants including: kebab prepared with cherry (kebab karaz), eggplant (kebab banjan), chili pepper with parsley and pine nut (kebab khashkhash), truffle (kebab kamayeh), tomato paste (kebab hindi), cheese and mushroom (kebab ma'juʔa), etc. The most favourite drink is Arak, which is usually consumed along with meze, Aleppine kebabs and kibbehs. Al-Shark beer -a product of Aleppo- is also among the favourite drinks. Local wines and brandies are consumed as well.
Aleppo is the origin of different types of sweets and pastries. The Aleppine sweets are characterized with containing high rates of ghee butter and sugar, such as mabrumeh, siwar es-sett, balloriyyeh, etc. Other sweets include mamuniyeh, shuaibiyyat, mushabbak, zilebiyeh, ghazel al-banat etc. Most pastries contain the renowned Aleppine pistachios and other types of nuts.
The city of Aleppo is the capital of Aleppo Governorate and the centre of Mount Simeon District. Aleppo City Council is the governing body of the city. The first municipality council was formed in 1868. However, the governor -in his turn- enjoys the highest authority over the city and the entire governorate.
Aleppo is divided into many districts:
Old quarters around the citadel, inside the walls of the ancient city:
Old quarters outside the walls of the ancient city:
Significant modern districts include:
The "Integrated Urban Development in Aleppo" (UDP) is a joint programme between the German Development Cooperation (GTZ) and the Municipality of Aleppo. The programme promotes capacities for sustainable urban management and development at the national and municipal level.
The Programme has three fields of work:
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.
Currently, Aleppo has four sister and partner cities:
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|Look up Aleppo in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
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