Into full tourist mode
Trip Start Nov 22, 2010
25Trip End Jan 11, 2011
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Where I stayed
The next morning I awake early to purchase a hat and gloves so I don't freeze in the atypically cold Syrian weather
The Aleppo Citadel is incredible. It sits on a hill in the middle of the city and provides an incredible view in all directions. The spot has been used since the third century B.C., but the current structure dates to the 1400's. It has been occupied by the Greeks, Romans, Ummayads, Abbasids, Ayyubids, Mongols, Ottomans, and French. The son of Saladin made major renovations to make it even more secure, such as steepening and smoothing the hill. Several notable European crusaders were imprisoned in its dungeons.
The Ummayad Mosque in Aleppo is equally historic, but sadly only the minaret (from 1090) remains from prior to the 13th century. The mosque is said to hold the head of Zechariah, father of John the Baptist.
We have a few hours to ourselves in the afternoon, which I use to grab a great lamb kabob off the street for under a dollar and then wander the souks for an hour browsing.
Seven of us decide to take the optional trip to the church of Saint Simeon at three. Simeon was a 5th century hermit monk who lived for 37 years atop a 15 meter high pillar, drawing crowds of devotees and people seeking his guidance. After his death, his followers built the church around his pillar, which today is only 2 meters high due to relic gathering by pilgrims. The church is in the shape of a cross, as can still be seen today from above. However, the east doorway is slightly offset, either so as to be "true east" or to represent Jesus' head slumping to one side on the cross.