April 14, 2011 Thursday  Aleppo ( Halep )
Day 02 in Syria overnight in Aleppo
Submitted by Elisabeth Chadwick Pictures - Meli

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We  met at the beautiful breakfast hall. Every  one had a good story to tell about their beautiful room. Mike was bragging about the marble bath tub, Meli could not stop talking about the dome in her room. The breakfast was as nice as the rooms. We were happy rested travelers ready to hit the road at 09:00 AM.  Walking through the narrow streets to get to the main road, we passed by several cars, which were decorated with the pictures of the President of Syria.


Today we visited the Aleppo Citadel, rising like a volcano over the city. It was originally built as a pagan temple and various parts were added over the centuries. One can get a feel of how it was in the 13th century. The citadel comprises aspects of a complete city, including moat, drawbridge, market, harem, bath-houses, amphitheater and mosque. Over the entrance is a writhing serpent, meant as a warning to anyone who might wish to storm the citadel that their way will be difficult. The group was besieged by many charming schoolchildren who wished to be friendly, say hello, and get their photographs taken.  The children kissed us all and said, "I love you". The locals were up at the view point at the top of the citadel. we noticed that ladies were enjoying the nargile as much as the men did.


                  Mary Kay in the Turkish Bath                                                                          Carole is  opening the gate of the citadel for us


From the citadel, we went shopping in the Handicraft Bazaar,
no one at first was in the mood of shopping.

Marilyn discovered a scarf shop and the shopping mood became contagious. Every one ended up buying jewelry, scarves, towels.

The shop keepers were not pushy. They were all very welcoming.

The weather was wonderful, those who waited for the others enjoyed the sweet touch of warmth.


Next on the itinerary was a visit to the Aleppo Soap Factory. We learned the various aspects of the famous Aleppo soap, which is made with olive oil and laurel. The sign of a high quality soap is the appearance of lighter on the outside and darker in the middle. The soap is shipped all over the world, the French importing the most. We also visited the Bimeristan - the 12th Century hospital. music and water were used as therapy. Our guide, Aiman, informed us that the building originally housed the mentally sick, who were tended to with a degree of humanity unknown in Europe in those times. Lunch was eaten on the outskirts of town at the Bawabet Alshahbaa Restaurant. The food comprised many dishes and salads, and the most distinguishing feature of the restaurant was its loud (some might say intrusive) fountain.


After lunch was a visit to the Great Mosque, which reputedly contains an organ of Zakirya the Prophet (father of John the Baptist), and consequently many pilgrims come to pray there. We had to wear the hicaps and took our shoes  off before we enter the court yard. It looked like a park. Kids were running around. elder women and men were sitting in the shade. Including some women, some were washing  - ablution - before their prayer. In the mosque, some were reading the Koran, and others were sleeping. It was a total contrast to the hectic life out in the streets.

Following our visit to the Great Mosque, we indulged in more shopping at the bazaar, and some of us purchased
Aleppo pepper, scarves, jewelry and soap.

Our first show and tell.
We lost track of how many scarves
were purchased today
While waiting for the bus, we stopped for tea at an outside café opposite the Citadel, and a full and hearty dinner was eaten at the Ciao Restaurant, which has Mediterranean food upstairs and Italian food downstairs .

We were invited to visit our guide Aiman's house.
His wife, Safa, his 2 sons, Ahmed and Usama and
his daughter met us at the house.

Click here for Day 3 in Syria - Elba & Apemmea            
 Table of Content    Syria tour Itinerary     Home page  
Syria 2011 group journal