"Aleppo" Aleppo by arabian10

Aleppo Travel Guide: 754 reviews and 1,837 photos

Aleppo vies with Damascus for the title of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited city. Both are mentioned in Eblaite tablets from the third millennium BC, where Aleppo goes by the name Hal-pa-pa, but fine neo-Hittite reliefs recently found in Aleppo’s towering citadel mound may give a slight edge in the antiquity contest to this more northerly of Syria’s two largest cities.

Since those earliest times, the long-distance trade in rare exotics and the face-to-face retailing of everyday essentials have been Aleppo’s sustenance. The clamor and calls emanating today from its suqs (markets) are the echoes of the same sounds that rang there four thousand years ago.

Today, some 15 kilometers (9 mi) of stall-lined streets, alleys and commercial cul-de-sacs wind off the suq’s 1.5-kilometer (1-mi) main thoroughfare, covered in places with stone and brick vaulting. It follows the route of the Decumanus, the city’s main east-west street that was laid out in Hellenic times, in Aleppo as in other cities of the Mediterranean world.

Aleppo in those times was the principal commercial entrepôt between East and West, where the riches of India and Mesopotamia met Mediterranean traders and middlemen who shipped the goods onward to the Greek mainland and, in later years, to Rome.

Starting up near the citadel, the Decumanus runs downhill through secondary suqs devoted to specific crafts or products, such as the Suq al-Attarine, the Perfumers’ Suq. At the bottom end is the dog-legged Antioch Gate, high enough that camels did not even have to duck as they marched out, bound for the port at Antioch, 80 kilometers (50 mi) to the west.

Today, traders new to Aleppo fly in—from Moscow most often—or they come by bus from Turkey. What were once “exotics” have largely given way to global-brand consumer products: The French Nafnaf clothing brand is today as common in the market as no-logo lamp oil once was.

Conversations with Aleppo’s salespeople, recorded here in the old suq and in the city’s urban shopping quarters, capture both what has changed in less than a lifetime and what never seems to vary from one millennium to the next.


“Sales of a single day in Aleppo are often greater than those of a month in other cities…. Ten loads of silk, for instance, brought to Aleppo, are sold that very day for ready money, whereas ten loads taken to Cairo, though the largest of cities, are not sold there till the end of the month.”


“A virile population, a splendid architecture, the quickening sense of a fine Arab tradition have combined to give the town an individuality sharply cut, and more than any Syrian city she seems instinct with an inherent vitality.”

“This souk must be the most enticing in the Middle East…. You are safe everywhere, probably several hundred times safer than in New York. You aren’t hassled by shopkeepers or cheated by taxi-drivers. And so many people invite you for coffee or tea that after a few days you start to suffer from severe caffeine poisoning.”

Dar al Kutub al Wataniah in Halab one of the oldest libraries in Syria

It started with one room in 1924 in Khan al Jumrak and then moved to Mahalat al A'barah then to its location in Bab al Faraj.

Halab city had many public libraries cross the history like al Ahmadiah library and al Othmaniah library and al Jame' al Amawi al Kabeer library and it belongs to his owner Mahmood al Jazzar who gave it to al Jame' as endowment. In addition to al Tekiah al Ekhlasiah library and al Sadeeqiah library.

These libraries have very rare books and to keep them from lost Daerat al Awqaf al Islamiah in Halab city started to collect these five libraries in her own library, and then moved to Khazayen al Makhtotat in Dar al Kutub al Wataniah in Halab.

Dar al Kutub al Wataniah has many valuable books and encyclopedias in Arabic and Foreigner languages in different kinds of sciences, philosophy, religions, social sciences, technical sciences, languages, business administration, arts, poets ... etc.

It has more than forty four thousand Arabic books and more than twenty thousand books in foreigner languages.

The most important books in this library:

- A'laam al Nubla be Tarikh Halab.
- Mujaladat Daerat al Ma'aref al Islamiah by the two languages French and English.
- al Mawso'ah al Beraitaniah (the British Encyclopedia).
- medical books.
- books for orientalist.
- books about old antiques.
- al Makhtotat (the manuscripts) that was copied by al Jame'ah al A'rabiah (Arab League) and kept in al Asad library in Damascus.

Halab (Aleppo): is the second biggest cities in Syria after Damascus the capital.

Bab al Faraj (al Faraj Door): is the location of the library and one of the most important and active places in Halab and it is the starting point for the historical and archeological places.

Halab Castle

  • Intro Updated May 8, 2006
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