What Aleppo, Syria looked like before the civil war

Before Syria’s ruinous civil war struck Aleppo, the country’s largest city was a busy commercial powerhouse and a proud historic center – its long heritage on display in ancient landmarks still used by modern day traders, travelers or worshippers.

But the war that erupted across Syria in 2011 exploded into Aleppo in the summer of 2012, when rebel fighters took over the east of the city.

The rebels hoped their march into Aleppo marked the beginning of the end for President Bashar al-Assad, while the government in Damascus pledged to swiftly drive them out.

Neither side achieved those goals, and the war in Aleppo dragged on more than four years. As the fighting ground on, Aleppo became the biggest prize of the civil war, even as the city itself crumbled under air strikes from government forces and bombardment by both sides.

Sections of the medieval souq, or market, have been ruined or burnt down, and the 11th century minaret at the Umayyad mosque was destroyed three years ago.

Modern structures have also suffered. The Shahba shopping mall on the outskirts of the city has closed – taken over by various insurgent groups during different phases of the fighting around Aleppo.

The Baron Hotel, whose guest list included Kemal Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey; British colonial officer T.E. Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia; and King Faisal of Syria and Iraq, found itself abandoned on the front line.

Now the Syrian army, backed by Assad’s Russian and Iranian allies, has recaptured the city. But Aleppo is changed. Much is in ruins, and much has been lost – surviving only in pictures and memories. (Dominic Evans/Reuters)

(Photos: Ihlow/ullstein bild via Getty Images, Eric Laffourge/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images, DEA / C. SAPPA/De Agostini/Getty Images, AFP/GettyImages, DEA / C. SAPPA/De Agostini/Getty Images)

See more images from before the war on Yahoo News.


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Qubbat al-Sakhra, Jerusalem

Built by Byzantine workers, the Dome of the Rock was constructed by the order of Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik between 689 and 691.

It was the oldest islamic building we have and the site’s significance stems from religious traditions regarding the rock, known as the Foundation Stone, at its heart, which bears great significance for Jews, Christians and Muslims. According to some Islamic scholars, the rock is the spot from which the Islamic prophet Muhammad ascended to Heaven. 

Words and definitions for Islam.
  • Jihad: A holy struggle or striving by a Muslim for a moral or spiritual or political goal
  • People of the Book : The name for Jews and Christians for whom the Muslims had religious tolerance; called this because each religion had a holy book with teachings similar to that of the Qur'an.
  • Umayyad: The first dynasty of Arab caliphs whose capital was Damascus.
  • Abbasids: A dynasty that ruled much of the Muslim Empire from 750 to about 1250.
  • Ottomans: Turkic people who advanced from strongholds in Asia Minor during 1350s; conquered large part of Balkans; unified under Mehmed I; captured Constantinople in 1453; established empire from Balkans that included most of Arab world.
  • Dome of the Rock: Muslim shrine containing the rock from which Mohammad is believed to have risen to heaven; Jews believe Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac on the rock.

Dome of the Rock. Jerusalem, Israel. 692. Constructed under the Umayyad Caliph Abd al Malik.

The interior mosaic decorations have remained since the 7th century, as opposed to the building’s facade. In the 16th century the exterior mosaic was replaced with magnificent tile, then again in the 20th century.

These decorations feature crowns, jewels, jeweled vases, trophies, non-terrestrial trees, and honorifics (crowns of defeated/converted rulers).

The motifs avoid figural representations, solely utilizing Quranic verses to convey religious narrative, unlike early Christian architecture that displayed dogma through figures of Christ. Islam’s preference for aniconism hardens and slacks throughout its history.

Year 1017
  • c. May: Melus of Bari begins a rebellion, supported by Norman mercenaries. His Lombard forces are victorious in three pitched battles against the Byzantine Empire.
  • c. July: Cnut the Great, King of England, marries Emma of Normandy, widow of the penultimate monarch, Æthelred. He divides England into the four Earldoms of Wessex, Mercia, East Anglia and Northumbria.
  • 2nd half: Kiev burns. Possible date at which construction of Saint Sophia's Cathedral, Kiev, is started.
  • 2nd half: Abd ar-Rahman IV succeeds Sulayman as Umayyad caliph.