Monday, September 12, 2005

The Capital of the Hamdanid Dynasty

My first time to visit Aleppo, Syria's second biggest city. I had been to most of the Syrian cities and sites but Aleppo! I was pretty excited.

I went around the city by car, felt almost the same as if I was in Damascus, crowded, busy and they all voted "YES" for the president!!

I noticed that they have lots of women in the complete veil that covers the entire face more than what we have in Damascus, of course, depending on the area, but generally speaking!

More blondish than our people in Damascus, I have met few people and got the chance to talk to. Even though I had thought that I didn't like their accent, but I guess I was wrong. They can speak with a lovely accent ;)

I visited the famous Citadel of Aleppo.

I loved it. It's the center of the city, or let's say the city was built around it. It's thought that the top of the 50 meters hill, where the citadel stands, was first inhabited in the 16 century BC, however, the earliest remains found so far are Roman and Byzantine from the 9th century BC when it was known to be a temple on the site. A legend says that Abraham camped on the the hill and milked his cow over there. I never found any traces of milk or any other dairy products on the top of the hill, however.

The first fortress on the hill was built by the Sultan Saif Al-Dawla Al-Hamadani and was used as his military headquarters, the citadel was later fortified many times and occupied, on the other hand, by many (e.g. Crusaders, Mongolians, Ottomans, ) It was a prison for the Franc prince of Antioch, Renaud de Chatillon, who spent 16 years as a prisoner during the crusades.

I couldn't possibly get a photo of Renaud in prison, so I had to use one of mines;)

It's said that Tamerlaine managed to take it by filling in the moat with his fallen soldier, and he destroyed it.

The citadel had a lot throughout the history; invasions, destructions, negligence and earthquakes (the strongest of all was in 1828), yet, it has survived and stand still. Although it has been rebuilt many times, all what we can see now is based on the rebuilding that was done by Ghazi, the son of Saladin.

The seiling of the throne hall

The views from the top of it are great, we could see all of Aleppo, so we don't need to visit another places! Of course that depends on how close you wanna visit the city ;)

Me, I'm curious, so it's never enough for me! I went here and there around Aleppo, I visited the old part of it. Aleppo has the world's biggest covered Bazaar.

But to be honest, I didn't like it, I got lost in it and reached places where streets are not even padded YET!

I walked in really great alleys in the old section, so warm and so old. I took lots and lots of photos, but here are very few of my favourites.

I also went to other parts of the city, I loved the architect in there, they use stones in most of their buildings unlike Damascus. Here are a bunch of various photos of new and old buildings in Aleppo:

While I didn't get the chance to visit the Umayyad mosque in there, donno why, I guess we have a bigger one in Damascus so what to bother! I came across many churches that looked just great!

In the neighbour where these churches were (except for the first one), I was the only one who spoke Arabic...or let me rephrase it, I was the only one who didn't speak Armenian! Man, I felt stranger! however, girls there were WOW! ;)
Another thing that I really found it amazing compared to Damascus, was the roundabouts and the squares; so creative and artistic: I took some photos of some of them.

They are not very clear cuz I was too lazy to move my butt and use my tripod!

I got a good impression about Aleppo! However, I find it full of contradiction; I mean, you see fashionably dressed people and all the aspects of a modern and mixed society, but when you get into a restaurant or a coffee place, guys get seated far from the girls! Very stupid thing actually! unless boys in Aleppo bite or maybe they smell!, then it's another story! but it really makes no sense! It feels weird! We were asked to sit at the corner (the bad corner in the back!) in all the many hangout places we went to! THAT SUCKED!

Anyways, it was a good trip that will always be remembered, especially the taste of the most delicious spicy pickles in the world...YUMI!


Ghalia said...

Well, 7amdellah 3ala el salameh khoy, So their cafes and resturants r shar3i?! that;s weird, r they making any profit? good there is no meet-ups there!

GraY FoX said...

welcome back home ...
damn it ... now you are writing all of those nice stuff about aleppo after i turned down the job offer that i got there :( ....
well to be honest buddy.. there are better places in aleppo than damascus ... but still some strict minds controlling over the whole atmosphere... still i love it .. and i love its markets and ice cream .. and pickles

no one said...

nice post man... what did u feel behind the bar?

by the way ya zelemeh... they really love u at ur work...!

Ahmad said...

I visited Aleppo last summer, I was a bit disappointed though. The city is considered the most industrialized in Syria yet I found it the most polluted with very poor population. The castle was huge and impressive, some khans were well reserved too but they could've done a better job. All the limestones buildings that were supposed to be white were gray or black because of pollution. the panorama from the castle is not very pleasing, All I saw was a giant concrete block with so many rusted satellite dishes and hanging cables. The society was too conservative to my taste, I thought I was in Saudi Arabia for an instant. On the other hand, I think that Aleppo has a potential, there are many places worth visiting but they need a complete makeover.. (That would be a good idea for a new reality tv show)..

Ihsan said...

Ghalia, no there is meet-ups there, in the streets however! cuz it's allowed!

Grayfox, I liked Aleppo as a visitor, donno about living there! so don't regret!

No one, It felt good! and yes, they do like me at work, how do you?

Ahmad, all places in Syria have the potential and could be better. but....!!

The panoramic view from the citadel is not very different than the one from the mount of Kassion in damascus, it's the style of buildings that makes it like that as well as the absence of a TV cable system!!

aleppian said...

I have taken these shots of not so ancient, but buildings built in the 40ies, or about.
they worth stopping by.

and you are right the panoramic view is never impressive from the citadel...:(

aleppian said...

maybe after a while i will come to damascus, let's see my failing digicam how will see damascus.

i like the old damascus, but surely new corners will be found also.
every pic has something new in it :)