UA-42101888-1 Aleppo | Syrian Friendship Association

Aleppo :

Among the Northern plains you will find the city of Aleppo (Halab), situated in a bowl in the landscape. Gertrude Bell, an English woman, likened it to a saucer with an upturned cup, being the Citadel. This is where Abraham (P) milked his cow.

The city itself is a central 'old city', a long maze of narrow streets around the magnificent Aleppo Citadel. As you go further away from the Citadel, buildings and roads become more modern until you reach the boundaries of New Aleppo.

Aleppo, Syria's city of the North, is situated only 1 hour away from the Turkish border. The city of Antioch in the province of Iskanderoun used to be Aleppo's gateway to the Mediterranean.

From Aleppo there are direct routes to the East of Syria Al Raqqa, Deir Ezzor, Al Hasakeh and the Iraqi border at Bukamal. There are also direct routes to Turkey, Latakia, Damascus and Palmyra (both via Homs).

Aleppo is now Syria's second biggest city. It has had a major role in the development of Syria's trade especially in the early nineties. It remains a popular city for tourists who like to visit the Citadel and the Middle East's longest covered souk. It is also famous for its architecture and intricate stonework.

The History of Aleppo

Aleppo, going back to the early 2nd millennium BC, competes with Damascus on being the oldest inhabited city in the world. It appeared in the Hittite archives in central Anatolia and in the archives of Mari on the Euphrates. Aleppo (Halab) was the capital of the Amorite kingdom of Yamkhad, in the middle centuries of that millennium. It was the focus of the Hittites in their overthrow of the Amorite Dynasty, in 1595 BC. In about 1000 BC, Northern Syria was taken over by the Sea Peoples; however Aleppo remained a small Neo-Hittite state. From 800 BC to 400 BC, the Assyrians followed by the Persians were in control of Syria.

In 333 BC, Aleppo was taken over by Alexander the Great, and was kept under the Greeks for 300 years in the form of the Seleucid Empire. During this time Aleppo was an important trading city, between the Euphrates and Antioch.

In 64 BC Pompey brought Syria under Roman domination. It remained under Roman control in the form of the Byzantine Empire until 637AD, when the Arabs took over.

In the 10th century Aleppo was taken over by the Hamdanids who made it virtually independent until 962 AD when it was retaken by the Byzantine Empire. In 1098, it was circled by soldiers from the First Crusade who could not conquer it, but paralyzed its commercial power. It was besieged again in 1124 by another Crusade, and then taken over by Zengi and his successor Nur al Din.

Saladin then took over and at his death the Ayyubid dynasty was perpetuated in Aleppo. At the Mameluke period, trade was diverted from Aleppo to the North in

Copyright © Syrian embassy-London 2005