For close to 8 millennia, the cobbled streets of Aleppo have echoed with the footfall of traders and shoppers. The narrow alleyways of its souks, marked by 2000 years of continuous construction, sell much the same wares now as
they did centuries ago, and are still named after their various professions and crafts.
The wool souk and the copper souk; the hammams and the caravanserais; the Christian schools and the Quranic schools, all exist side by side in much the same way as they did when they were first constructed.
The city formed the western hub of the Silk Road, the ancient trade route that connected Asia to the Mediterranean Sea. In the vastness that was the Ottoman Empire, Aleppo was its third largest city (after Constantinople and Cairo). It was this long Ottoman period, which ended with the First World War, that had the strongest influence on ancient Aleppo. By the middle of the 16th century, Aleppo had displaced Damascus as the principal market for goods coming to the Mediterranean region from the east. The English, Dutch, French and Venetian Empires maintained consulates in Aleppo, instead of Damascus, and it wasn't until the building of the Suez canal in the mid-nineteenth century that the city began to decline.
Nowadays Aleppo remains Syria's most populous city with a population close to 2,500,000, and due to its rich history, remains one of the most visited cities in the Middle East.