Civilians and militants are reportedly gathering in the area to be evacuated later in the day. Seif al-Dawla reportedly remains one of the last areas of Aleppo that remains partially under militant control.
Ancient City of Aleppo, Syria – UNESCO
Located at the crossroads of several trade routes from the 2nd millennium B.C., Aleppo was ruled successively by the Hittites, Assyrians, Arabs, Mongols, Mamelukes and Ottomans. The 13th-century citadel, 12th-century Great Mosque and various 17th-century madrasas, palaces, caravanserais and hammams all form part of the city’s cohesive, unique urban fabric, now threatened by overpopulation.
Outstanding Universal Value
Located at the crossroads of several trade routes since the 2nd millennium B.C., Aleppo was ruled successively by the Hittites, Assyrians, Akkadians, Greeks, Romans, Umayyads, Ayyubids, Mameluks and Ottomans who left their stamp on the city. The Citadel, the 12th-century Great Mosque and various 16th and 17th-centuries madrasas, residences, khans and public baths, all form part of the city’s cohesive, unique urban fabric.
The monumental Citadel of Aleppo, rising above the suqs, mosques and madrasas of the old walled city, is testament to Arab military might from the 12th to the 14th centuries. With evidence of past occupation by civilizations dating back to the 10th century B.C., the citadel contains the remains of mosques, palace and bath buildings. The walled city that grew up around the citadel bears evidence of the early Graeco-Roman street layout and contains remnants of 6th century Christian buildings, medieval walls and gates, mosques and madrasas relating to the Ayyubid and Mameluke development of the city, and later mosques and palaces of the Ottoman period. Outside the walls, the Bab al-Faraj quarter to the North-West, the Jdeide area to the north and other areas to the south and west, contemporary with these periods of occupation of the walled city contain important religious buildings and residences. Fundamental changes to parts of the city took place in the 30 years before inscription, including the destruction of buildings, and the development of tall new buildings and widened roads. Nonetheless the surviving ensemble of major buildings as well as the coherence of the urban character of the suqs and residential streets and lanes all contribute to the Outstanding Universal Value.
Criterion (iii): The old city of Aleppo reflects the rich and diverse cultures of its successive occupants. Many periods of history have left their influence in the architectural fabric of the city. Remains of Hittite, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Ayyubid structures and elements are incorporated in the massive surviving Citadel. The diverse mixture of buildings including the Great Mosque founded under the Umayyads and rebuilt in the 12th century; the 12th century Madrasa Halawiye, which incorporates remains of Aleppo’s Christian cathedral, together with other mosques and madrasas, suqs and khans represents an exceptional reflection of the social, cultural and economic aspects of what was once one of the richest cities of all humanity.
Criterion (iv): Aleppo is an outstanding example of an Ayyubid 12th century city with its military fortifications constructed as its focal point following the success of Salah El-Din against the Crusaders. The encircling ditch and defensive wall above a massive, sloping, stone-faced glacis, and the great gateway with its machicolations comprise a major ensemble of military architecture at the height of Arab dominance. Works of the 13th-14th centuries including the great towers and the stone entry bridge reinforce the architectural quality of this ensemble. Surrounding the citadel within the city are numerous mosques from the same period including the Madrasah al Firdows, constructed by Daifa Khatoun in 1235.
The boundary of the property follows the line of the walls of the old city and three extra-muros areas: North, Northeast and East suburbs. Some attributes exist beyond the boundary and need protection by a buffer zone.
Although the Citadel still dominates the city, the eight storey hotel development in the Bab al-Faraj area has had a detrimental impact on its visual integrity, as have other interventions before inscription. The remaining coherence of the urban fabric needs to be respected and the vulnerabilities of fabric and archaeological remains, though lack of conservation, need to be addressed on an on-going basis.
Since inscription, the layout of the old city in relation to the dominant Citadel has remained basically unchanged. Conservation efforts within the old city have largely preserved the attributes of the Oustanding Universal Value. However the setting is distinctly vulnerable due to the lack of control mechanisms in the planning administration, including the absence of a buffer zone. The historic and traditional handicraft and commercial activities continue as a vital component of the city sustaining its traditional urban life.
Protection and management requirements (2009)
The property is protected by the Antiquities Law administered by the Directorate of Antiquities and Museums (DGAM).
In 1992, the Project for the Rehabilitation of Old Aleppo was set up under the Municipality of Aleppo in cooperation with international agencies. In 1999, the Directorate of the Old City was established under the Municipality of Aleppo to guide the rehabilitation of the old city with three departments covering studies and planning; permits and monitoring, and implementation and maintenance. A comprehensive plan for the evolution of the city is being prepared by the Old City Directorate office. The city’s development is being considered under the ‘Programme for Sustainable Urban Development in Syria’ (UDP), a joint undertaking between international agencies, the Syrian Ministry for Local Administration and Environment, and several other Syrian partner institutions. The programme promotes capacities for sustainable urban management and development at the national and municipal level, and includes further support to the rehabilitation of the Old City.
There is an on-going need to foster traditional approaches to conservation, restoration, repair and maintenance of building fabric. There is also a need for an overall conservation management plan to include planning rules for heights and density of new developments in specific neighbourhoods, and for policies for the protection of archaeological remains uncovered during infrastructure and development works. There is also a need for an approved buffer zone with appropriate planning constraints.