Built in 1214 by the Ayyubid ruler, al-Ghazi, the Great Mosque of the Citadel was strategically positioned at the point of highest elevation on the Citadel hill. The 21 metre minaret thus added to the height and had the dual use of minaret to call for prayers and observation tower to detect invasions in advance. The structure is no longer used as a mosque, but has preserved its simple medieval design and layout.
The throne room above the monumental gateway of the citadel is the most beautiful room in Aleppo. Originally built in the 15th century, it was restored in the 1970s.
The throne room is on the second floor of the monumetal gateway. It measures 30 square meters. An octagon is raised in the center of the flat ceiling to allow light through the twenty-four stained glass windows. The ceiling is finished with carved and painted woodwork and plaster.
The monumental gateway to the citadel is a magnificent structure. It was built during the Ayyubid period by Saladin's son, Al Zaher Ghazi. Following the Mongol invasion of 1260, it was repaired by Sultan Ashraf Khalil. Then in the 16th century the throne room was added between the two towers.
There is a large hammam inside the Citadel, but it is no longer in use. It was built in the 13th century at around the same time as the Ayyubid Palace. It has been restored and its glass-studded domes are one of the most impressive sights you will see in the Citadel.
The early 13th century Ayyubid Palace is one of the most beautiful structures inside the citadel. It was built as the palace for Sultan al-Zahir al-Ghazi of Aleppo (1186-1216). Although much of the original palace has been destroyed, the impressive main entrance portal remains.
Aleppo Citadel is beautiful, as you approach it, its so huge, and the walkway up to it from the cafe lined street looks like a bridge leading to a castle.
Once you are inside the Citadel itself there isnt much to see of the building in my opinion, but climb up onto those walls or look through the holes in walls and you will get one amazing view across the city.
The Citadel of Aleppo, listed by Unesco as a World Heritage Site, stands upon a natural hillock, which dominate the city. Archaeological findings show that in the 10th century BC the place was a temple. Sayf Al-Dawla, governor of Aleppo, was the first who built a citadel there during the 10th century AC. In the 12th century, Nur Al-Din fortified the citadel and added some structure, but the citadel took its present form during the Mamluk era by the Sultan Al-Zahir Al-Ghazi. Unquestioned, the Citadel worth the visit; it is very well preserved and the view from there is spectacular. Admission 150SP. Open 9am-6pm Wednesday-Monday.
Aleppo has one too of course! This one is a little bit different though than many others as it was never taken by force in it's history. When you see it, you can understand how that would be possible. Built on a hill and surrounded by a moat, any force trying to take it would be easily picked off by those inside the citadel. Eventually, the citadel was taken in a very sly way. Under a flag of peace, hostile forces waited until they were inside the citadel and then raised their weapons and took over the citadel.
The citadel of Aleppo is one of the most impressive citadels I've ever seen and is a must see even if you are bored with castles and citadels. Give ample time to visit the ruins on the top and enjoy the panoramic view of Aleppo.
The Village in the citadel was complete with water cisterns, grain storage, workshops for all the aspects of medieval life. One need rarely leave the village unless perhaps to work in the field of agriculture in the valley below. Indeed even during the height of battle for control of the Citadel, life could continue undisturbed by activity outside the walls. The Citadel has several mosques and numerous buildings with artful domes, but it also has almost bucolic like country streets with abandoned workshops on either side. Currently, there's a cafe and bookstore on top, but I wasn't impressed with either of these places.
The Citadel represented a tranquil place of safety on a hill, and so acquired aspects of spirtual loftiness as well. Interestingly, the Main Citadel block contains not only enormous military defense capability but rises to a tranquil place of worship as well. Entrance to each level requires climbing stairs and making turns, such that higher levels can peer down upon and assault invaders to the very entrance of the domed mosque at the top. Natural light filters through the dome, reminding one that even as the most terrible assault raged outside, the ruler could continue to meditate his connection with God. The geometric multi-colored stone work is very impressive as is the careful attention to detail in terms of window placement.
The Citadel Gate was obviously the weak spot and during various early medieval invasions it was breached. However, by the early 13th century, Ayyubid ruler Sultan al-Zahir al-Ghazi of Aleppo (1186-1216) built the enormous entrance gate and arched bridge that enters what was then a small Muslim city. A complex defense plan was designed for entrance into the Citadel, as assault would have to break down 3 iron doors and then change direction 6 times through a series of 90 degree turns while experiencing hot liquids being poured through the slit openings on the upper floors. This marvelous medieval design made the Citadel of Aleppo perhaps the most defensible in the region. In 1986, UNESCO designated the Aleppo Citadel a World Heritage Site.
The dry moat around the Citadel in the center of Aleppo is a wonder in itself. Originally, the hill on which a neo-Hittite acropolis and temple were built was a natural defense, but between the 10th and 16th centuries various Muslim empires improved the fortifications such that the moat is now largely paved in a steep slope up to the Citadel itself. The moat was filled with water at one time. As the city grew outside the walls, the importance of the Citadel as a place of residence declined. We didn't walk the entirety of the elliptical base of the hill, but stayed mostly on the west, north, and southern sides. During the Crusader and Mongol invasions, the Citadel often held enemies at bay while the surrounding town was sacked, but as cannon and explosives were developed beginning in the 15th century, no amount of fortification could make it satisfactory for defense. But, in the days of medieval siege warfare, generals arriving on the scene must have pondered in wonder how such a hill and structure could be invaded.
No-one visiting Aleppo could miss the Citadel. There it sits, atop its great mound where, in places, the grassy accretion of centuries is slowly being peeled away to reveal the stone-faced glacis beneath. Massive, impregnible - that you expect. What is more surprising is how elegant and restrained it is - the arches of the bridge across the moat, the monumental square entrances, the banded black and white stonework around the windows.
Once inside things become something of a jumble, the twists and turns of the defensive entry passage opening out at the top to a mix of reconstucted buildings and piles of apparent rubble. The view over the city is magnificent however.
From the Citadel you will have a great view over the city. From the place where the café is you will have a good view.
The citadel closes already at 6 pm. When I visited in July 2002 I paid 300 SP to enter. 300 SP was that year the normal price for a tourist when visiting touristattractions. In 2004 the price had been lowered to 150 SP.