The General Directorate of Antiquities and Museums, Aleppo Governorate, Aleppo City Council, The Syrian Development Trust and Aga Khan Foundation have opened the centuries-old Al Saquatiyah souk in the ancient city of Aleppo after the completion of the restoration and rehabilitation project in which local and international experts have participated. The event took place on Thursday 17th October 2019 in the presence of Mr. Mohammad al-Ahmad Minister of Culture, engineer Muhammad Rami Martini Minister of Tourism, Hussain Diab Governor of Aleppo, Fares Kallas member of The Syria Trust Development Board of Trustees, Luis Monreal representative of Aga Khan Development Network, Mr. Mohammad Saifo Resident Representative of Aga Khan Network in Syria, Dr. Mahmoud Hammoud Director-General of Antiquities and Museums along with representatives of government bodies and local society.
Al Saquatiyah souk is part of the straight street (Via Recta) built in the fourth century BC by Seleucus Nicator based on grid planning. The length of the street from Bab Antiloque and the citadel of Aleppo is 750m. It was equipped with Greek columns, Roman, Byzantine and those of later eras. It is one of 37 souks in the ancient city of Aleppo and developed during Arab Islamic eras because of the peaceful arrival of Arabs from Bab Antiloque. It thrived during the reign of Nour al-Din al-Zinki and Salah ad-Din.
A number of speeches were delivered by the bodies that supervised the restoration work in which they clarified the joint work mechanisms to renovate and restore Syria’s historic cities. In addition to qualifying national human resources to invest their efforts in the restoration of their cities, to signify the importance of joint efforts in the restoration and revival of the ancient city economically, socially and culturally. These efforts were organized in the framework of official memoranda of understanding.
Mr. John Maghamez, Director of Aleppo governorate for The Syria Trust Development stated, “Aleppo is the oldest inhabited city in the world listed by UNESCO World Heritage List. Its real value does not lie only in its unique architectural fabric and material legacy, but also in its immaterial legacy i.e. the people themselves along with their social and cultural rituals, their creativity in all occupations. What we focus on now is the revival of the soul of this historic city and embrace the building of the capabilities of Aleppo society especially those societies neighboring historical buildings and cultural domains. The Syrian Development Trust is committed to preserving the immaterial heritage for future generations to ensure the cultural advancement of the ancient city of Aleppo after its destruction and to restore hope to its different social groups.”
The restoration of Al Saquatiyah souk is the first step on the road to revive Aleppo. Currently, we are working with local and international partners to develop an integrated plan to rehabilitate the rest of the ancient city sites with priority given to Khan al-Hareer.
It is worth mentioning that Aleppo was listed on UNESCO World Heritage List in 1986 distinguishable by its authenticity and exceptional international value. Yet because of the raging war on Syria and the destruction to which the Syrian heritage is exposed, the ancient city of Aleppo was classified in 2013 on the List of Endangered World Heritage Sites.