Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Photos of Old Aleppo and recent restoration attempts there.

     So much of the architectural history of Aleppo was destroyed by ISIS, al Qaeda and all the other terrorists who invaded that beautiful city under the watchful eye of our very own CIA.  And now there is hope in Aleppo as many of those precious historical landmarks are being repaired and/or rebuilt -- and my friend in Aleppo sent me the photos to prove it too.   

Mullakhané: the Whirling Dervishes Sufi’s historical site (16th c. - 1920’s). Still partly damaged from inside, with slow-paced restoration.
The Bāb al-Faraj (Relief Gate’s) Clock Tower (1898-1900).  Almost fully restored. 

The Great Mosque: One of the biggest disasters in the Old City of Aleppo.   It is damaged so badly, with its historical unique square floor-plan minaret (950 years old, 45 meters high) that had been blown up by the terrorists to blame the government.  The site was an Agora in the Hellenistic and Roman era.  Terrorists had almost leveled it and turned it back as an agora.  Its historical minbar (a short flight of steps used as a platform by a preacher in a mosque) dated back from Saladin’s and the Crusades’ era or even after that period, had been looted, with its ancient library of manuscripts taken to Turkey (mostly, but perhaps to other countries after Turkey).  The mosque includes a shrine of Zechariah (father of John the Baptist).  Russian Republic of Chechnya is donating for its restoration now, but it still needs a LOT of time.  This is how it used to look before the war:

Another restoration example of an old building (little mosque?) from Saladin’s era.

Traditional Soap Caravanserai (Khan as-Sāboon): under restoration.

Switzerland Consulate inside the Vezir Caravanserai (Khan al-Wazeer) from the 17th century.  I didn’t know that the Swiss Consulate was located over there.  It’s closed now though.

Another old building that was used as the Belgique Consulate at one era.


A concert took place a week ago in the ancient Citadel of Aleppo.  Many Arab celebrities attended it.  They played part of the opera Carmen among other local songs and music.  (Courtesy of Believe in Aleppo)

The Red Gate (Bāb al-Ahmar) restaurant right now, although it wasn’t famous at all decades ago.  I’ve heard that it cost more than half a million US dollars to buy it, but after restoration, it costs a minimum of more than 2 million dollars.  Originally it was a Turkish Bath, centuries old.

Beroea Restaurant (3-Stars).  All of these cafés and restaurants are in front of (or around) the Citadel.  New Syrian immigrants to Canada opened a very luxurious Beroea Restaurant in Laval, near by Montreal, QC.  Beroea is the Hellenistic and Roman name for Aleppo.

Arica (Sofa/Couch/Divan) Café

Some restoration for shops close by the Triumph Gate (Bāb an-Nasser) (North of Old city). 

Comments from my friend:   Some new archeological excavations around the Triumph Gate have lead to several results so far.  It used to be known as the Jews’ Gate until one ruler changed its name centuries ago.  The Jewish quarter was close-by for centuries if not more.  The gate itself was hidden behind shops for decades, all of them had been removed now (thanks to the war and demolition!!)  They found some ancient structures around it that could be belonged to Sabians/Zabians (NOT Sabaeans of Yemen), or Mandaeans, and whether there was a link between the Old Testament’s name for what they believed is Aleppo as Zobah or Aram-Zobah, and the Zabians?  No one knows yet for sure. Excavations are still on going.
     The Triumph Gate also has a shrine for Saint-George, whose celebration day was yesterday (on 23rd of April).  Its name in Arabic is al-Khodr/al-Khedr.  According to history, Jews, Christians and Muslims used to celebrate at that day and at that site, and it was sacred for all of them.  There is another shrine for Saint George in the Citadel.  Here are layers and layers of history and beliefs in one spot.

      All the positive photos above are merely islands among a sea of destroyed and damaged buildings here.  The way is so long to restore the old city, but little steps have been started in that long path.  The Aga Khan Foundation is helping a little, training for basic skills in restoration and studying the current situation before starting on big-scale operations. 


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