Going to the hammam, or bathhouse, is an old tradition in the area. It is a great experience and you will feel very fresh after a visit.
After you have entered you change in a small hut and after that you go to the hot room to sweat for a while. When it is time to get washed you can do it yourself or you can pay for being washed by the attendant. You can also pay more to have a rub and a massage.
Men and women bath at different hours. I was surprised they let Firas and me in for a look at Yalbogha, but I guess it is OK when it is the men hours (and the etiquette says the cloth around the waist should never be taken away during the bath).
Respect the local customs by covering your arms and legs if you are a woman....you dont have to be totally covered up, but just make sure you are not revealing too much.......that way you blend in better.....otherwise, you may get some unwanted attention.
Many Muslims regard it as a great honour to be buried in the proximity of a saint or a learned man. The graves here are to be seen beside the lonely tomb of the 14th Century holy man, Nebi Houri, at Cyrrhus, in the far north of Syria - as isolated but beautiful a spot as you could imagine.
Make sure you ask before taking photos of people. Most don't mind and will let you but some of the women don't like it and it can be very rude. If you do have permission to take a picture and have a digital camera then do show the person the picture - people love to see themselves and are facinated by the photos! If possible you can offer to email them a copy.
Much like Damascus, the streets of Aleppo are filled with classic cars that are in excellent condition. It is unclear whether these cars are a fashion statement, or whether they are still driven due to poverty. Attached are photos of cars seen in Aleppo.
Around the old city of Aleppo, there are numerous Sahlab vendors. Sahlab is a sweet cinnamon-flavoured thick milk-based hot drink (see photo). It is highly recommended on freezing winter mornings to warm you up!
As you walk through the souk, you will notice many stalls are hung with green and red bunting, or flags are strung across the vaulted roof. This is done to welcome home someone returning from Mecca.
Don't be overly worried as a western woman if you soon gather a crowd of young men watching your every move - as long as you are not dressed inappropriately (in which case show some respect) they are just curious and mean no harm
It was built in the period of French occupation to Syria in: 1920
So it has the French style of Monasteries.
It was the school of my mother, and her Teachers were French Nuns.
Now days it lost the school quality but still have a group of French Nuns.
Today all the scouts of Aleppo have the membership in this Monastery.
My young sister Nour is a member now days.
Also many musical parties and other activities and Festivals are done on the Franciscan Monastery.
Saint George’s Church:
It’s in my opinion the greatest church in Aleppo in Architectures.
It’s also located near Al Tawhhid Mosque.
And don’t be surprised any more of this wonderful Phenomena in Syria.
Moslems believes on Saint George too but they call him: Sire “Al Khouder”
You’ll see on his honor a Tomb inside Aleppo Citadel, of course without the body of Saint George, but only on his Honor.
Sabah Fakhri is a wonderful singer that it's worth discovering. He sings the traditional qudood and muwashahat music types of Aleppo, which I discovered I really liked a lot. he's not such an obscure name as it may seem: in 1966 he was invited to perform at the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm. His music is very easy to find, since he's very popular in the Middle East. A curiosity: he's also mentioned in the Guinness Book of Records for a 10 hours long concert held in Caracas, Venezuela.
The city of Aleppo is built entirely from stone. Its millennia old tradition of using stone in construction has continued to this day even in the new city. The admirable mastery of carving stone is evident in its intricately decorated buildings, particularly in the old city. Attached are some photos typical of Aleppo's unique and beautiful architecture.
Wasta is a word often heard in Syria. It is Arabic and translates as something like authority, influence, political (or other) power, connections, or a combination of those terms. In practical terms it means that some rules can become more flexible if you have wasta, or know someone who has wasta. Also, a bit of wasta can smooth or speed up business transactions, bureaucratic issues, and other official procedures. At its best (or worst, depending on your point of view), a good dose of wasta could keep you out of jail or save you from other unpleasant consequences of dubious activities.
The common English expression "it's not what you know but who you know ... " is a rough equivalent of wasta.
On the wasta scale (not that there is an official one), things that can make a difference in the Syria are your nationality, your profession, who you work for, who you know, your political position in the country, your connections to people in positions of authority. Money and how long you have lived in the Syria don't usually directly affect your wasta level but indirectly they do since longer term residents may have built up a larger network of high-wasta friends, and rich people often associate with other rich people who may be high-wasta individuals.
Many expat residents learn about wasta through a driving experience. In simple terms, the more wasta someone has, the less likely they are to cop a fine and/or be blamed if there's an accident. Wasta can result in some unusual situations for example, green lights were actually red when you went through them because the person who crashed into you had enough wasta to change the color retroactively. Indications of higher levels of wasta on the road are dark tinted or mirror tinted windows (30% maximum is the law so anything more than that means it's likely they have enough wasta to get around this rule), number plates with fewer than 5 digits (but anyone can buy them now if they have enough cash so it's not as good an indication as in the past).
Wasta is something that many expats, especially westerners, find difficult to come to terms with but you'll find it easier to enjoy Dubai if you get used to that rather than try to fight it. And of course it helps if you can elevate your own wasta level somehow.
Wasta and Bribes
Don't confuse wasta with bribery. If you try to bribe a government official, for example a police officer who has just pulled you up for driving though somebody's garden, you should expect to be punished fairly harshly for trying to bribe them. And if the owner of the garden that you drove through has some wasta, then you'll probably be even worse off. In the business world, things may operate a little differently. Just as anywhere else in the world, the negotiation of business transactions and contracts is not always done on a level playing field, and bribes ... er gifts ... might be part of your discussions with interested parties.
Wasta also means to pull some strings. is widespread in Syria and bribery as well under Syrian baath party.
Aleppo is a crossroad city, therefore there are many ethnic groups and cultures that have influenced this historic city. In Aleppo there are Arabs, Armenians, Kurds, Jews, Russians, Turks and many others. There is also a great diversity in religions. Although most of the population is Muslim, there are also many Christian communities and a very small Jewish community.
People in Aleppo are usually very friendly and open to foreigners. Enjoy this overlooked jewel!
A tip for the waitress or taxidriver?
In Afrin or Aleppo it is up to you to give tips to the waitress in a restaurant (if he/she was friendly and helpfull and the food was good of cours). They need the tips to live since the wage is very little.
In bars and café's some people give a tip, others don't.The servers will appreciate it if you do.
It is common to give the taxidriver a tip. Only if they were nice and friendly, of course!
Never give a tip if someone asks for it.The amount of the tip is not specific you decide how much to tip.:-)
The Beit Salahieh, is a lovely hotel (converted from a 15th century palace), which has panoramic...more
Try a breakfast in the Sheraton, all you wish to eat and more... And if you love ancient times,...more
Jdayde Area, Alhatab Square, Aleppo, Syria
Good for: Business