Free Syrian Army fighter in Aleppo
Free Syrian Army fighter in AleppoReuters

The city of Aleppo is one of the oldest in the Middle East.  Over the centuries it was captured and ruled by the Egyptians, Hittites, Chaldeans, Greeks, Romans, Persians, Umayyads, Abbasids, Mamluks and Ottomans. It is being fought over today once again.   

"Poor Jewish family in Aleppo" (circa 1912) See also here

Full of ancient archaeological sites, including the famous Citadel, Aleppo was named a World Heritage Site 25 years.  The Citadel is one of the world's largest castles, with parts dating back 1,000 years.

 A Jewish community existed in Aleppo for almost two millennium.  The "Great Synagogue" dated back to the fifth century and stored one of the most important Jewish Biblical texts, the Aleppo Codex, a medieval bound manuscript of the Hebrew Bible. The codex was written in the 10th century C.E., and was endorsed for its accuracy by Maimonides. In 1947, anti-Israel Syrian mobs set fire to the Synagogue and the codex disappeared, to turn up in 1958 when, missing parts of the text, it was given to Israel's then-President Yitzchak Ben Tzvi  by a Syrian Jew. It is now in the Hebrew University. 

The city's name in Hebrew is "Chaleb," and the Jews from the city are called "Chalabim" in Israel, but the Jews themselves called it "Aram Tzova", a location mentioned in the Bible..

When the UN voted for the 1947 partition plan establishing a Jewish state, anti-Jewish pograms were launched against the Jewish community.  Some 6,000 Jews emigrated. In 2014, Israel managed to rescue one of the few remaining Jewish families from Syria.


The city of Aleppo seen from the Citadel (circa 1912)


A commercial center and home to two million inhabitants, Aleppo today is in ruins, suffering under the battles fought between the Islamist rebels and the Syrian regime.  According to the UN, 200,000 residents fled the city during the fighting.

See a tribute to the people of Damascus here.

The Library of Congress archives contain dozens of antique photographs of Aleppo, many of them dated between "1898 and 1946," the years the American Colony photographers were active.  More likely, the pictures were taken during 1903 or 1912 expeditions to Syria by the American Colony photographers.

The photograph at the top of the page was taken approximately 140 years ago by the French photographer Félix Bonfils (1831- 1885).  Several of his pictures can also be found in the Library of Congress archives.

"One of the finest mosques and the citadel in Aleppo" (circa 1912) See also here


Aleppo in the current fighting (VOA News)