As a tourist in Aleppo in 2018

It was a rainy day in November 2018 that I decided to board the midnight bus from Damascus to Aleppo. I was nervous from just hearing that bombings had resumed in the eastern part of Aleppo, after the chemical attacks that had happened there four days before. Once I got there and was met by my friend that fear was gone and I felt that the city was as safe as any other city in the World.

A mosque built on top of ruins of the byzantine city. The pillars in the wall were from original roman temples!

We had a busy schedule with things to see before I would board my return bus back to Damascus so we started off walking from the Bab al Faraj clock tower towards the citadel which is one of the oldest in the World.

As soon as the Castle opened at 9.am we walked through the gates and into the theater where we had a view of the whole fortress and the city below.

The architecture was one of a kind, and except for some buildings on the inside, like the temple of the storm god, everything was well intact. Impressive considering that the fort was built in the 3rd millenia BC!

The view from the top

The most beautiful part was the throne hall where the king used to sit. There were engraved wooden pillars, chandelliers and windows that let the light in from the back of the throne, so that the people coming in wouldnt see the face of the king.

Next up was lunch which we had at Beroea (the old name of Aleppo) Restaurant. It was just mind blowing to sit in a restaurant having the view of the fortress on one side and a really smashed up building on the other. Because Aleppo really is full of these ruins as fightings were going on for years even inside the city.

My friend showed me pictures of these places from before the war and now almost nothing was left

Next up was “Al Jdaideh”, a historical neighborhood with narrow alleys, richly decorated mansiones and a church with Roman markble pillars at the entrance that some kids were using as a fotball goal.

These arches were sometimes built over the streets to connect houses of families who married each other.

From Bab Antakiya, the main defence gate in Aleppo, we walked through the old citadel which had been tried taken over by rebel groups in the war and thereby had been greatly destroyed. In my opinion the straight street with the souq here was even nicer than the one in Damascus and it was sad to see that so much of it was in ruins.

Pieces of almost 5000 years of history was ruined at the battle of Aleppo

In Azizieh, the new town there was little sign of the war and people were walking the streets with shopping bags and enjoying coffee, wine and shisha smoking at the many bars and restaurants. The public park also felt like a different World than the war torn buildings we had seen, it felt like it could have been anywhere else in the World.

Finally we had an incredible, yet pretty cheap (less than 10$) dinner at Bab Al Ahmar restaurant where there was traditional music and local food with the best possible view of the citadel lighting up in the night. A perfect end for my stay in Aleppo which has left quite an impression on me.