NewsFor its latest comeback, an ambitious restoration project is near completion in the Old City. A master plan for development has been laid out for the next 15 years.
The most spectacular renewal is the Citadel castle: Workers cleared its deep moat, cleaned its formidable walls and removed tons of rubble. The work is backed by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, which aims to revitalize rundown communities and monuments.
The surrounding warren of alleys and lanes is a hodgepodge of stone buildings, mosques and churches, caravanserais and hammams. Here, waterworks and electrical lines have been fixed and streets repaved.
Homeowners were given loans to help renovate their houses and have a stake in the district’s gentrification.
“We want this to be a living city. It would be a disaster if the current residents left,” Adli Qudsi, an architect who has campaigned to save old Aleppo for 32 years, said in an interview.
Aleppo has what might be called second-city blues. Like St. Petersburg, Aleppo was once a capital in its own right. With Syria’s independence in 1946, Aleppo became a provincial outpost and was eclipsed by Damascus, the national capital. Decades of uneasy Syrian relations with nearby Turkey made it a cul-de-sac.