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Aleppo ( ['ħalab], , other names) is a city in northern Syriamarker, the second largest Syrian city and the capital of the Aleppo Governoratemarker; the Governorate extends around the city for over 16,000 km² and has a population of 4,393,000, making it the largest Governorate in Syria by population. Aleppo is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world; it knew human settlement since the eleventh millennium B.C. through the residential houses that were discovered in Tell Qaramel. It was known to antiquity as Khalpe, Khalibon, and to the Greeks as Beroea. During the Crusades, and again during the French Mandate, the name Alep was used: "Aleppo" is an Italianised version of this. It occupies a strategic trading point midway between the Mediterranean Seamarker and the Euphrates. Initially, Aleppo was built on a small group of hills surrounding the prominent hill where the castle is erected. The small river Quwēqmarker (قويق) runs through the city.

History

The ancient name of Aleppo, Halab, 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).

Because the modern city occupies its ancient site, Aleppo has scarcely been touched by archaeologists. The site has been occupied from around 5000 BC, as excavations in Tallet Alsauda show. It grew as the capital of the kingdom of Yamkhad until the ruling Amorite Dynasty was overthrown around 1600 BC. The city remained under Hittite control until perhaps 800 BC before passing through the hands of the Assyrians and the Persian Empire and being captured by the Greeks in 333 BC, when Seleucus Nicator renamed the settlement Beroea, after Beroeamarker in Macedon. The city remained in Greek or Seleucid hands until 64 BC, when Syriamarker was conquered by the Romans.

The city remained part of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire before falling to Arab 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 until the Fatimid conquest in 1000 and Byzantine-Seljuk Wars. The city was twice besieged by Crusaders—in 1098 and in 1124—but was not conquered.

On August 9, 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 fourth deadliest earthquake in recorded history.

The city came under the control of Saladin and then the Ayyubid Dynasty from 1183.

On January 24, 1260 the city was taken by the Mongols under Hulagu in alliance with their vassals the Frankmarker knights of the ruler of Antiochmarker Bohemond VI and his father-in-law the Armenian ruler Hetoum I. The city was bravely defended by Turanshah, but the walls fell after six days of bombardment, and the citadel fell four weeks later. The Muslim population was massacred, though the Christians were 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 Homsmarker, 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 Damascusmarker, which surrendered, and the Mongols entered the city on March 1, 1260.

In September, the Egyptian Mamluks negotiated 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 and 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 send an army to reclaim the city. In October 1271, the Mongols took the city again, attacking with 10,000 horsemen from Anatoliamarker, and defeating the Turcoman troops who were defending Aleppo. The Mamluk garrisons fled to Hamamarker, until Baibars came north again with his main army, and the Mongols retreated.

On October 20, 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.Aleppo returned to native control in 1317, .

In 1400, the Mongol-Turkic leader Tamerlane captured the city again from the Mamluks. He massacred many of the inhabitants, infamously ordering the building of a tower of 20,000 skulls outside the city.

The city became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1516, when the city had around 50,000 inhabitants. 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 city remained Ottoman until the empire's collapse, but was occasionally riven with internal feuds as well as attacks of the plague and later cholera from 1823. By 1901 its population was around 125,000. The city revived when it came under French colonial rule but slumped again following the decision to give Antiochmarker to Turkeymarker in 1938–1939.

Aleppo was named by the Islamic Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) as the capital of Islamic culture in 2006.

Culture

Inside the suq.
Minaret of al-Saffahiyah Mosque.
There is a relatively clear division between old and new Aleppo. The older portions were contained within a wall, 5 km in circuit with seven gates. The huge medieval castle in the city – known as the Citadel of Aleppomarker – occupies the center of the city.

As an ancient trading centre, Aleppo also has impressive suqs (shopping streets) and khans (commercial courtyards). The city was significantly redesigned after World War II; in 1952 the French architect André Gutton had a number of wide new roads cut through the city to allow easier passage for modern traffic. In the 1970s, large parts of the older city were demolished to allow for the construction of modern apartment blocks.

Historic buildings

  • The Citadelmarker, a large fortress built atop a huge, partially artificial mound rising 50 m above the city. The current structure dates from the 13th century and had been extensively damaged by earthquakes, notably in 1822.
  • Madrasa Halawiye, built in 1124 on the original site of the Cathedral of St. Helen, where, according to tradition, a Roman temple stood also. Then Saint Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, built a great Byzantine cathedral there. When the Crusaders invaders were pillaging the surrounding countryside, the city's chief judge converted St. Helena's cathedral into a mosque, and finally in the middle of the 12th century, Nur al-Din founded a madrasa or religious school here. Parts of the 6th century Christian construction, turned into an Islamic school after the Crusaders invasion, and including 6th century Byzantine columns, can be seen in the hall. It has also a fine 14th century mihrab.
  • Bimaristan Arghun al-Kamili, an asylum which worked from 1354 until the early 20th century.
  • Madrasa Faradis ("School of the Paradise"), defined "the most beautiful of the mosques of Aleppo". It was built by the widow of malek Zahir in 1234–1237, then regent for Nasir Yusuf. Notable is the courtyard, which has a pool in the middle surrounded by arches with ancient columns, sporting capitals with a honeycomb pattern. The same style characterizes the domes of the prayer hall. Also fine is the mirhab, decorated with arabesque motifs.
  • Beit Ajiqbash, Beit Ghazale and Bait al-Dallal, 17th-18th centuries houses in the Jdeide quarter, showing fine decorations, nowadays turned into museums.
  • Khanqah al-Farafra, a 13th century sufi monastery (1237).
  • Madrasa Moqaddamiye, the oldest theological school in the city (1168), with a porch sporting arabesque medallions. It was also converted to this use after the ruthless Crusader invasion of Holy Land.
  • Mausoleum of Kheir Bey (1514), commissioned by the namesake Mamluk officer.
  • Madrasa Zahiriye (1217).
  • Madrasa Sultaniye, begun by malek Zahir and finished in 1223–1225 by his son al-Aziz. Noteworthy is the mirhab of the prayer room.
  • The National Library of Aleppo
  • The Clock Tower of Bab Al Faraj.


Religious buildings

  • Great Mosque of Aleppomarker (Jāmi‘ Bani Omayya al-Kabīr), founded c. 715 by Umayyad caliph Walid I and most likely completed by his successor Suleyman. The building contains a tomb associated with Zachary, father of John the Baptist. Construction of the present structure for Nur al-Din commenced in 1158. However, it was damaged during the Mongol invasion of 1260, and was rebuilt. The 45 m-high tower (described as "the principal monument of medieval Syria") was erected in 1090–1092 under the first Seljuk sultan, Tutush I. It has four façades with different styles.
  • Khusruwiyah Mosquemarker completed in 1547, designed by the famous Ottoman architect Sinan.
  • Al-Nuqtah Mosquemarker ("Mosque of the drop [of blood]"), a Shī‘ah mosque, which contains a stone said to be marked by a drop of Husayn's blood. The site is believed to have previously been a monastery, which was converted into a mosque in 944.
  • al-Adeliye mosque, built in 1555 the governor of Aleppo Muhammed Pasha. It has a prayer hall preceded by an arcade, with a dome, a mihrab with local faience tiles.
  • Al-Saffahiyah mosque, erected in 1425, with a preciously decorated octagonal minaret.
  • the Ayyubid-era al-Tuteh Mosque, which includes the ancient Roman triumpal arch, which once marked the beginning of the decumanus. It has 12th century kufic inscription and decorations.
  • Al-Qaiqan Mosque ("Mosque of the Crows"), with two ancient columns in basalt near the entrance. It includes a stone block with a Hittite inscription.
  • The small funerary al-Otrush mosque, begun in 1403, in Mameluke style. It has a highly decorated entrance portal in the fine façade.
  • Altun Bogha Mosque (1318).
  • Al-Tavashi mosque (14th century, restored in 1537), with a great façade decorated with colonnettes.
  • Cathedral of the Forty Martyrsmarker an Armenia church in the Jdeide quarter backs to 16th cnetury.
  • Churches of Jdeide Christian quarter such as the Maronite Church, the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church and many other churches in the old quarter.
  • The Central Synagogue of Aleppomarker- built circa 1200 by the Jewish community.


Gates



Threats to the ancient city

The old city faces neglect, a decaying infrastructure of water and sewage pipelines that have leaked and copromised the stability of many old buildings' foundations. The poor, who are the primary denizens of the old city, do not have the income necessary to repair and maintain their historical buildings.

Parks and amusement

The Public Park of Aleppo is the largest in Syria. Opened in the 1940s and located in the Aziziyeh area.

The Blue Lagoon is a water park located just otside Aleppo. It has several pools, toboggans, bars and restaurants.

The city possesses a number of operating cinema halls; most of them are located on the Baron street. among them the famous Cine d'Alep an the Chahba Cinema.

The Casino d'Alep with its summer and winter branches, is the only casino which operates in the Syrian Arab Republic

Economy

The main role of the city was as a trading place, as it sat at the crossroads of two trade routes and mediated the trade from Indiamarker, the Tigrismarker and Euphrates regions and the route coming from Damascusmarker 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, it continued to thrive until the Europeans began to use the Cape routemarker to Indiamarker and later to utilize the route through Egyptmarker to the Red Seamarker. Since then the city has declined and its chief exports now are the agricultural products of the surrounding region, mainly wheat, cotton, pistachios, olives, and sheep.

Demographics

Narrow street in the Christian quarter.
Nearly three quarters, or 70%, of Aleppo's inhabitants are Sunni Muslims, mainly Arabs, but also Turkmens and other ethnicities, including Adyghe and Albanians, Assyrians/Syriacs, Bosnians, Bulgarians, Chechens, Circassians, Kabardins and Kurds. Aleppo has the largest Christian community in the Middle East after Beirutmarker, Lebanonmarker, and the most diverse Christian community in the Orient. Between 15% and 20% of the population are members of Orthodox congregations, particularly the Syriac Orthodox Church amongst the Syriac community in Aleppo. The majority of the Syriac Christians in Aleppo speak Armenian, since they are from the city of Urfa in Turkey, where Armenian was widely spoken. Although Aleppo was known to have a large Christian population before the 20th century, the influx of Armenian and Syriac refugees caused the city's Christian population to swell greatly. Apart from adherents of the Syriac Orthodox Church and the Armenian Apostolic Church, there were also many Catholics from the Syriacs and Armenian population who came and increased the Catholic presence in the traditionally Eastern Orthodox city. Among the many denominations of the Arab Christian population, the largest congregation by far is that of the Greek Orthodox church, with one of the largest Church structures in the city being the Marr Jerjes (St. George) Greek Orthodox Cathedral. The Christian Arab population of Aleppo also happens to be very varied, with Maronite and Franciscan Catholic, Nestorian and Syriac Orthodox being among the other congregations represented, as well as many other different denominations. There are several Christian-majority areas and Christian quarters in Aleppo, amongst the oldest is the area of Jdeide (pictured). Among the newly built Christian districts of Aleppo are the areas of Aziziyeh, Sleimaniyeh and Al-Midan. Nowadays there are more than 40 operating church buildings in the city, belongs to different eastern Christian denomiantions.

The city has had a large Jewish population since the time of King David. The great synagogue housed the 10th century AD Aleppo codex. That codex is now housed in Jerusalemmarker. Following the 1947 Aleppo Riots, most of Aleppo's 10,000 Jewish residents wanted to migrate to Israel, as part of the Jewish exodus from Arab lands.

To this day, the properties and houses of the Jewish families which were not sold after the migration remain uninhabited under protection by the Syrian Government. Most of these properties are in the Al-Jamiliah and Bab Al-Naser areas, and the neighborhoods around the Central synagogue of Aleppomarker. Currently hundreds of buildings, many of beautiful late Ottoman style, stand empty and deteriorating in many sections of town, chained symbolically against repossession by Christians or Muslims, with a strong resolve by many of the Jewish families not to sell their properties in hope of a "return". Eventually, the Syrian government lifted restriction on its Jewish citizens with the sole condition that they did not travel to Israel to settle there. Most travelled to the USA, where a sizeable Syrian Jewish community currently exists in Brooklynmarker, New Yorkmarker. Today, only a handful of Jewish families still live in Aleppo, and many of the buildings such as the synagogue and the Jewish school remain empty, and are only used rarely for special events and religious ceremonies.

Transport

Railway

Aleppo was one of the first parts of Syria to obtain railway connection, with the Ottoman Empire building the Baghdad Railway through the city in 1912. The connections to Turkey and onwards to Ankaramarker 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 has a relatively slow speed of passage, much of the passenger traffic to the port of Latakiamarker had moved to road based air-conditioned coaches. But this has reversed in recent years with the 2005 introduction of South Koreanmarker built DMU's proving regular bi-hourly express service to both Latakia and Damascus, which miss intermediate stations.

Airport

Aleppo International Airportmarker (IATA: ALP, ICAOmarker: OSAP) is the international airport serving the city. The airport serves as a secondary hub for Syrian Arab Airlines. Airlines serving the airport include: Air Arabia, Armavia, bmi (London-Heathrowmarker), Buraq Air, EgyptAir (Cairomarker), Jazeera Airways (Kuwaitmarker), Royal Jordanian (Ammanmarker), Turkish Airlines

Education

As the main economical centre of Syria, Aleppo has a large number of educational institutions. Along with the Aleppo Universitymarker, there are state colleges and private universities which attract large number of students from Syrian regions and other Arab countries. The university has some branch-faculties in the city of Idlibmarker.

Branches of the state conservatory and the fine arts school are also operating in the city.

Sport

The most played and popular sport in Aleppo is football. Aleppo has many clubs which practice football with only one of them, Ettihad of Aleppo is participating in the Syrian National Football League's top division for the season 2009–2010.
Club Stadium
Ettihad of Aleppo Ettihad Stadium Al-Horriya Jalaa Sport Club Al Yarmouk Sport Club Ourubeh Sport Club
Ettihad is the only club which owns its private stadium which has a capacity of almost 12,000 spectators. But because of the huge number of its supporters, they use the city's main stadiums, Al-Hamadaniah Stadiummarker and the Aleppo International Stadiummarker. While the 2nd division teams like Al-Horriya and Al Yarmouk, use the April 7th Municipal Stadium which can serve around 17,000 spectators.

Basketball is also very popular in Aleppo. Four clubs out of 12 in the men's Syrian Basketball League top division are from Aleppo. The same also goes to the women's basketball league. The clubs of Aleppo are totally dominating the basketball leagues in Syria, especially the Jalaa club which plays on its own ground and the Ettihad of Aleppo. Al Yarmouk and Al-Horriya are also included in the top division, both in men's and women's league, while Ourubeh club plays in the women's top division an the men's second division.

Other types of sports are also being practiced by the mentioned clubs and other small clubs. Tennis, Handball, Volleyball, Table Tennis and Swimming are favorites.

Program for Sustainable Urban Development in Syria

The “Program for Sustainable Urban Development in Syria” (UDP) is a joint undertaking of the German Development Cooperation GTZ, the Syrian Ministry for Local Administration and Environment (MLAE), and several other Syrian partner institutions. The program promotes capacities for sustainable urban management and development at the national and municipal level. Four components have been agreed as major fields of cooperation during the first phase (2007–2009):

  1. Urban development in the city of Aleppo; this includes further support to the rehabilitation of the Old City, as well as to a long-term oriented city development strategy (CDS) and the management of informal settlements.
  2. Rehabilitation of the Old City of Damascusmarker; this will build on instruments and experiences established during the urban rehabilitation support for Old Aleppo.
  3. Promoting support structures for municipalities; this includes capacity building, networking, and promoting municipal strength in the national development dialogue.
  4. Policy advice on urban development; rapid urbanization in Syria requires adequate legislative and institutional frame-conditions as well as specific promotional programs for urban development.


The UDP cooperates closely with other interventions in the sector, namely the EU-supported 'Municipal Administration Modernization' program. It is planned to operate from 2007 to 2016.

International relations

Twin towns—Sister cities



Notable people



See also



Photo gallery

File:Aleppoaleppoaleppo.jpg|The National Park is in the heart of the city.File:Aleppoaleppo.jpg|The entrance to the Citadel of Aleppomarker, the most famous monument in the city.File:Citadel-amphitheatre.jpg| The amphitheatre inside the citadel.File:Byzantine-hall.jpg| The Mamluk hall (15th c) above the entrance gate of the citadel.File:AleppoViewFromCitadel.jpg| Old Aleppo with entrance to the main suq (view from the citadel).File:MapAleppo 1912.jpg|Aleppo in 1912, centered on its citadel mound.File:churchofAleppo.jpg|The Church of Saint Simeonmarker (Samaan) is considered to be one of the oldest remaining churches in the world.image:Aleppo Great mosque courtyard.JPG|Inner courtyard of the Great Mosque.

References

  1. "Histoire des Croisades", René Grousset, p581, ISBN 226202569X
  2. Runciman, p. 314
  3. Runciman, pp. 336–337
  4. Runciman, p. 463
  5. Battle of Aleppo@Everything2.com
  6. http://www.aleppo-cic.sy
  7. Walter P. Zener, "A Global community - the jews from aleppo, syria", pp. 35, 82


External links




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