Ancient City of Aleppo ~ Historical Souk ~ Syria
A walk through the labyrinthine souk market of the northern Syrian city Aleppo. We pass a traditional olive & laurel soap seller from one of the oldest soap families in Aleppo, a metal-worker who hammers designs for brass tea trays, a cane-seller, a lingerie seller who’s inexplicably a man with two Naqabi women customers, a woodworking shop crafting kitchen utensils, and lastly a Halwa sweets-seller.
Documentary film by Isabelle Carbonell. Edited by Sarah Cannon.
The Old City of Aleppo is the historic city centre of Aleppo, Syria. Many districts of the ancient city remained essentially unchanged since its construction during the 12th to the 16th century. 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 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.
Characterized with its large mansions, narrow alleys, covered souqs and ancient caravanserais, the Ancient City of Aleppo became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986.
Aleppo has scarcely been touched by archaeologists, since the modern city occupies its ancient site. The site has been occupied from approximately 5000 BC, as excavations in Tallet Alsauda show.
Early Bronze Age
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 Arman to the Akkadians. Giovanni Pettinato describes Armi as Ebla’s alter ego. Naram-Sin of Akkad (or his grandfather Sargon) destroyed both Ebla and Arman in the 23rd century BC.
Middle Bronze Age
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.
Late Bronze Age
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.
Souqs and Khans
Main article: Al-Madina Souq
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.
Al-Madina Souq, 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 are 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 most significant khans within and along the covered area of Souq al-Madina are: Khan al-Qadi from 1450, Khan al-Saboun from the early 16th century, Khan al-Nahhaseen from 1539, Khan al-Shouneh from 1546, Khan al-Jumrok from 1574, Souq Khan al-Wazir from 1682, Souq al-Farrayin, Souq al-Dira’, Souq al-Hiraj, Souq al-Attarine, Souq az-Zirb, Souq Marcopoli, Souq as-Siyyagh, The Venetians’ Khan,*Souq Khan al-Harir from the second half of the 16th century, Suweiqa, etc.
Other traditional souqs and khans in Jdeydeh quarter (outside the walled city):
Souq al-Hokedun or “Khan al-Quds”. Hokedun means “the spiritual house” in Armenian, as it was built to serve as a settlement for the Armenian pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem. The old part of the Hokedun dates back to the late 15th and early 16th centuries while the newer part was built during the 17th century. Nowadays, it is turned into a big souq with a large number of stores specialized in garment trade.
Souq as-Souf or the wool market, located at Salibeh street, surrounded with the old churches of the quarter.
Bawabet al-Qasab, a trade centre for wooden products.
LEAKED: FSA Filmed Their Burning of Ancient Souq in Aleppo Feb 17, 2013
With crying eyes each Syrian follows the daily news of a fake revolution led by NATO & its stooges in their country.
Saddened to hear of the deaths of innocent people in the name of ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’, troubled to see their country infested by fanatic Wahhabi Sex Jihadists wanting to create an Islamist (not Islamic) Caliphate where they can get their Harem while their masters in the west get their land’s riches.
Shocked to see their infrastructure destroyed so some unknown will come to power, and devastated to see their heritage robbed.
But what hurts most is covering the crimes of these fanatic criminals & blaming the Syrian Army for it. Burning the ancient souq in Aleppo is just one of thousands of such examples.