Aleppo, the city of St. Simeon


The Christian Armenian Church in Aleppo, lit up for Christmas mass, 24 December 2001


After entering Syria from Turkey on December 24th, we headed straight to Aleppo where there is a significant Christian community (Armenian, Greek Orthodox, Catholic and others) in order to attend a Xmas mass and feel a little at home. This time around we were with Christian's parents (feeling at home !) and headed for what must be the most historical hotel in Syria, the Beit Wakil. Unlike Damascus, Aleppo has retained many small streets and navigating in these with Troopie was no easy task.


The Beit Wakil Hotel (left) and tasting a local delicacy made of meringue


Saint Simeon
40 km North West of Aleppo lies the Basilica of Saint Simeon, one of Syria's most unusual Christians. Looking for some peace and quiet in order to meditate and live a pious life, he sat on top of a 3m pillar and went on to spend the next 36 years on top of this and other taller pillars (more than 10 m). After his death in 459, a basilica was built around this pillar (of which only a small stone remains as Christians have taken it home as a souvenir bit by bit over the centuries). What remains today is a beautifully preserved church.




The Church of Saint Simeon and its surroundings : dark brown earth peppered with, er, olive green olive trees !


Back in town we headed for the Aleppo's souq which is said to be on par with the souqs of Istanbul and Cairo. After 2 hours of walking and despite the touts trying to get commission for bringing them to any shop, they had not had enough ! Aleppo is probably the only city in Syria with a few good restaurants. One of the dishes that will be remembered is a fresh thyme salad along with Lebanese red wine. Aleppo was also the city in which father and son went to a hammam together, which is a public bath (not a sauna) in which men will come and spend a few hours to talk. It is a social activity as well as a useful way of getting clean. Sorry no pictures from inside the hammam !


One of the coffee men delivering his goods to shop owners in the souq (left), millions of soap bars drying in the soap factory (centre), electrics... (right)



A young girl in the mosque of Aleppo's citadel (left), nails protecting one of the citadel's doors (centre) and a stunning roof (right)


Warm sandstone used for one of Aleppo's beits (mansion)


We are doing well !

Syria's capital : Damascus Back to Trip page Km 45,000