Aswaq Halab
Aleppo, Syria

The central suq or market of Aleppo is a treasured institution among residents of the city, having existed for hundreds of years. In its current form, it stretches from Bab Antakiyya in the west to the citadel in the east with its heart in the areas south and east of the Great Mosque. A series of parallel covered shop-lined streets running east-west form the main arteries of the suq. These are intersected by several shorter north-south running arterial market streets. Numerous mosques, caravansaries and madrasas occupy the blocks created by the grid.

Not much is known about the earliest form of the suqs apart from the fact that they presumably existed and have evolved with the changing dynamics in the city. In the twelfth century, we begin to obtain more information. Nur al-Din Zangi (r. 1146 - 1174) who renovated the Great Mosque and a number of other structures in Aleppo, including the city walls, also renovated the markets. It is during this phase of their existence that the medieval author Ibn Jubayr passed through Aleppo on his pilgrimage to Mecca in June of 1184 described the suq in relative detail. He describes numerous covered lanes in the area around the Great Mosque, dedicated to individual crafts but all connected to one another so that visitors seamlessly walk from one craft area to another. The system of roofing was wooden.

While the overall area and plan of the suq may relate to the time of Ibn al-Jubayr or before, the architecture of the suq of today is at earliest Mamluk, with later accretions. Nothing before 1260 survives. One of the most obvious changes that occurred is the replacement of wooden ceilings and infrastructure with walls and vaults made of stone. Heinz Gaube and Eugin Wirth's research on endowment deeds (waqf) has lead the authors to the conclusion that little survives before 1400 and the areas immediately south and east of the Great Mosque are older, dating to the late Mamluk period, while the more peripheral areas to the west and further south are Ottoman.1


1. Gaube and Wirth, Aleppo, 175-177 and fig. 41.


Gaube, Heinz and Eugin Wirth. Aleppo: Historische und geographische Beiträge zur baulichen Gestaltung, zur sozialen Organisation und zur wirtschaftlichen Dynamik einer vorderasiatischen Fernhandelsmetropole, 173-177. Wiesbaden: Ludwig Reichert, 1984.

Aleppo, Syria
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1000 - 2000
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اسواق حلب القديمة
Aswaq Halab al-Qadima
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