Bit by bit, Aleppo’s centuries-old bazaar is being rebuilt as Syrians try to restore one of their historical crown jewels, devastated during years of brutal fighting for control of the city.
The historic Old City at the center of Aleppo saw some of the worst battles of Syria’s eight-year civil war. Government forces finally wrested it away from rebel control in December 2016 in a devastating siege that left the eastern half of Aleppo and much of the Old City — a UNESCO world heritage site — in ruins.
The bazaar, a network of covered markets, or souks, dating as far back as the 1300s and running through the Old City, was severely damaged, nearly a third of it completely destroyed. Most of it remains that way: blasted domes, mangled metal and shops without walls or roofs.
But planners are hoping that by rebuilding segments of the bazaar and getting some shops back open, eventually they re-inject life into the markets. Before the war, the historic location drew in Syrians and tourists, shopping for food, spices, cloth, soap made from olive oil and other handicrafts.
The latest to be renovated is al-Saqatiyah Market, a cobblestone alley covered with arches and domes dotted with openings to let in shafts of sunlight. Along it are 53 shops, mostly butchers and shops selling nuts and dried goods. This souk had seen relatively less damage, and the $400,000 renovation took around eight months, with funding from the Aga Khan Foundation.
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