As A Tourist In Aleppo, Syria 2017.

After spending 3 great days in Damascus was it time to travel north to Aleppo, driving along the world´s most dangerous road, the Salamiyah – Ithriya – Khanasser Road, notorious for being attacked by Daesh (ISIS) and Al Qaeda, and getting shut down for days.

And yes Daesh (ISIS) attacked the road the same day I travel it as well, less than 1hour after I passed by it.

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Salamiyah – Ithriya – Khanasser Road

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An old burned out bus, you pass a lot of old destroyed vehicles on this road, even two tanks, military trucks, and a few oil tankers.

The road between the two biggest cities in Syria used to take only 5 hours to drive, however, these days it will take you between 7 to 9 hours.

Mostly because of the detour you have to take along Salamiyah – Ithriya – Khanasser road  (The highway is off limits since it goes through deep Al Qaeda land), and there a few compulsory military checkpoints with friendly soldiers who do papers checks. This rarely takes more than a minute or two.

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Getting close to Aleppo now.
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Local kids posing for a photo when having a fast drink stop.

When you finally reach Aleppo, you will go through the broken parts of East Aleppo, the places where some of the most fierce battles in the war happened.

There are three sides to every story: yours, theirs, and the truth somewhere in the middle.

But it doesn’t take long before you notice that only a small part of Aleppo is destroyed, as soon as you reach central Aleppo, the city is bustling with life, just like Damascus. So too are the shops, restaurants, supermarkets, and parks filled with people.

Here´s a short video from my trip around Syria, filmed with my GoPro.

 

Yes, There´s a lot of destruction in Aleppo, especially the historical old part of town with the Souq (market) and surrounding areas are mostly destroyed, but rebuilding has already started.

But there’s far less destruction in Aleppo than what the media has been telling us, only about 20% of Aleppo is destroyed or damaged. The city center is mostly unharmed.

The university is open together with 913! schools, the local trains are running and there´s seven public transportation routes around the city.

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Aleppo Trains station, there’s a local train running, the station opened in 1912! On 25th of January 2017, train services resumed in Aleppo for the first time in four years.
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The I Love Aleppo sign is a popular selfie spot for locals, notice the rebuilding of the hotel in the background.

As a foreigner in Aleppo, you may think that big parts of the city were off limits? Not at all! I was granted full access to inside the Aleppo Citadel, to walk around the old Souq, visit the devastating remains of the historic Umayyad Mosque, and to visit East Aleppo.

I was even allowed to visit a school that Desh (ISIS) and Al Qaeda used as headquarters.

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Not what you expect to see in Aleppo? An American Sports car and a palm tree-lined boulevard. You do see a few American sports cars around the streets of Aleppo.
Rebuilding is happening all over Aleppo.
The streets of Aleppo.

I was never told that I could not visit an area, or even told that I wasn’t allowed to take photos!

Before the war in the Old City of Aleppo is one of the highlights of every trip to Syria, it was even added to the UNESCO world heritage list all the way back in 1986!

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The Aleppo Citadel from the eastern side. There´s tons of photos from the Citadel further down on this post.
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Me leaving the Citadel, I’m probably the most obvious looking tourist in all of Syria. Notice that the restaurant on the far right side of the photo is open again!

From the UNESCO website:

Located at the crossroads of several trade routes from the 2nd millennium B.C., Aleppo was ruled successively by the Hittites, Assyrians, Arabs, Mongols, Mamelukes and Ottomans. The 13th-century citadel, 12th-century Great Mosque and various 17th-century madrasas, palaces, caravanserais and hammams all form part of the city’s cohesive.

It´s heartbreaking to walk around the Old City of Aleppo and see all the destruction that happens here. But where´there´s sorrow, there´s hope.
A few shopkeepers in the old Souq are working every day and night to rebuild (in the original style) and reopen their shops and there´s stonemasons working at the entrance of Aleppo Citadel, the jewel of the Middle East.

The Remains of The Old Souq.

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From Inside the Souq, most if it looks like this part.
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But luckily so are some parts of the Souq almost untouched.
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Father and son cleaning out the damage to their shop in the old Souq.
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Some shops are almost rebuilt, notice that it’s rebuilt in the original style.
I like exploring!
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But when exploring, you have to be careful, here there is left behind hell canon bombs from the terrorists.

Umayyad Mosque, The Great Mosque Of Aleppo.

The Umayyad Mosque was the largest and oldest mosque in Aleppo, it dated back to year 715 and was one of the most beautiful mosques in the world especially because its minaret was considered to be a national treasure, but unfortunately, it was blown up in on 24 April 2013 by Al Nusra (Al Queada).
The whole mosque is now planned to be rebuilt and restored to its former glory.

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The entrance to the Grand Mosque, the Minerat used to stand on the right side
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The broken entrance

The courtyard, the Minaret used to be at the back left corner.
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There´s less damage inside then I feared.
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From the courtyard.

Aleppo Citadel.

The Citadel was a proud treasure for the whole of the Middle East before the war. It is considered to be one of the oldest and largest castles in the world. Usage of the Citadel hill dates back at least to the middle of the 3rd millennium BC.

It has been used by and survived through many of the greatest civilizations in history, from the Greeks, Romans, Mongolians to the Ottomans and it´s still standing now after the war.
It´s badly dammed inside but restoration has already started. And it shouldn’t take many years before its back to its former glory and open once again to hoards of tourists.

I was granted full access to inside the citadel.

Aleppo Citadel from the western side.

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School kids are back visiting the Citadel, Girls choose themselves if they want to cover their hair or not in Syria.
School kids are back visiting the Citadel.
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The inscription over the Entrance gate is undamaged.
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The lion statue at the entrance is undamaged.
Undamaged.
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walkway trough the citadel
The walkway up to the mosque
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The place where some of the oldest excavation has taken place.
The mosque inside is not damaged too badly.
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The view from the top of the Minaret to the mosque.


Daily Life In Aleppo Ala 2017.

The daily life in Aleppo these days is very normal once again after the government regained control over the city. While walking around central Aleppo will you wonder if there ever was a war happening here.

Locals on the streets.
Fancy some sexy underwear?

Couples are out shopping and enjoying a shisha in public, young girls are dancing in the parks.

Young girls playing in the park
“No freedom,” the media tells us.

During Syria´s national football time, everyone gathers to watch it. I watched the football game between Syria and Australia at a public watching inside a basketball court.

Syrians’ love football
When Syria scores

Beautiful girls love football too.
The central park in Aleppo
Clean and green
Locals enjoying pizza and beer.
Christian Churches are open.

East Aleppo.

The most destruction is located in this area, but even here have rebuilding begun, and we all remember reading about the last school that got bombed? It looks like a normal school, to walk down to the basement and see ISIS flags.

Streets of the Eastern part of town, people caring building material back home.
An old man blowing a kiss in east Aleppo
That´s how a school looks like after it got hit by an airstrike.
But the school was used by ISIS as a headquarters.

So do you still think Aleppo is a city in ruins? I have some hundred more photos from my visit to the city, and I will be posting more photos in the near future. I will also include the photos from the children’s school that was used by Daesh (Isis) and Al Queada as headquarters in a general post about my visit to Syria soon.
After 3 eyeopening days in Aleppo was it time to head back down to central Syria and Homs.

Read about my trip to Krak des Chevaliers & The Valley Of Christians by clicking this link.

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In October 2017 I did visit, Aleppo once the biggest city in Syria as a tourist. #Syria #aleppo #middleast #UNESCO #travel #traveltips
In October 2017 I did visit, Aleppo once the biggest city in Syria as a tourist. #Syria #aleppo #middleast #UNESCO #travel #traveltips
44 Comments
  1. Så flotte bilder og så fine kommentarer ✌️‼️🇮🇶. Var i Aleppo i april i år- godt å se at den våkner så fort igjen – fortsatt god reise – eva

    1. Tusen Takk:) Du bør ta en tur tilbake til Syria igjen snart. Landes byggesopp igjen veldig fort å det tar ikke mange år før meste parten av ødeleggelsene er er bygd opp igjen

  2. You seem to consider yourself a brave adventurer but in reality you are being a tourist and having fun in a country that has suffered immensely. You seem to think you are a Syria expert because you were there ten days. My family is from there, some still there and many had to flee for their lives, from both Aleppo and Damascus. I feel that you are sugarcoating the problem there is glossing over the fact that millions had to flee Aleppo. Just because you have pictures of rebuilding doesn’t undo all the years of destruction experienced.the media didn’t “lie” about that as you claim. What exactly are you trying to prove? That everything in Syria is fine? Do you have any idea about other cities besides the ones you visited? I’d appreciate some more responsible travel writing.

    1. Yes many people fleed Aleppo, but already have 500 000! People returned home according to The UN refugee agency (UNHCR). So that clearly have to mean that Aleppo and the government-controlled parts of the country are safe doesn’t it? Not everything is fine in Syria, but government-controlled areas are returning to normal once again, with kids attending school, girls being allowed to dress however they want and dance in public, but for you, that seems like a mistake? if you do check out my Instagram will you now see 35 photos that show, destruction, suffering and daily life in Syria. If your Syrian expert, make your own post and prove me wrong

    2. And what other cities are you talking about? My next post will be about Homs, the city in Syria that experienced the most damage and destruction during the war, about 70% of Homs was destroyed but rebuilding have already come a long way

    3. You are probably against the government and that motivates you to deem everything black and bleak. what exactly are you suggesting? that no tourists should visit syria and enjoy their time there because people there suffered 6 years of war? people in syria had enough war and its time to rebuild and enjoy every single moment to compensate for the past years. The media, specially the MSM media that you are defending, were catched with their pants down in many of the events in syria. from the very first momenets when they started supporting the unrest caused by the “Arab spring” to their bloody biased reports from aleppo, where they reported the suffering of less than 500K civilians held hostages by the Islamist groups every day for almost 3 years, while ignoring that the majority (2,5 million) lived in west aleppo under the government, not even a single report on the destruction caused by the islamist rebels and their Jahanam cannons or tunnel bobs that destroyed most of the historical areas in aleppo.

      Anyway, people of syria wont need your pessimism, a tourist who is courageous enough to visit syria and give a blink of hope is what syrians need.

  3. Yesterday, 1/11, I was also in Aleppo, or Halab in Arabic. In an other we two swedes maybe had met in the old town or at the castle. And as you, I was in the same restaurant with the red Mustang outside 😉

  4. I look for the chance to visit Syria. The Sirians are lovely people and it is great to know that the damage is smaller that the news keep showing us. Hope this nation recovery quick and find peace.

    1. Heey.
      Yeah that´s the first thing I noticed myself, except for Homs were around 70% of the city is destroyed (rebuilding have started) so is a lot of places pretty much undamaged

  5. wow this was so interesting. Did you need a special visa to enter the country? I assume you must have also hired someone to specifically take you around the country..? I have never seen any blog posts before about visiting Syra for tourism…. thanks for sharing this very interesting story!

    1. I had a completely ordinary Tourist visa, nothing special. No you can take shared taxis around the country it´s fast and cheap tho there are public buses running as well

    1. Thank You, The tourist are coming back, I did meet around 15 other tourists during my visit, and I have seen two other travel bloggers posting about their recent visit to Syria lately now, so things are getting a lot better in Syria now

  6. I noticed that you did not accept my comment. You are only replying to people who don’t challenge you. I get it. I am also a travel blogger but I respond to people like myself, who actually have ROOTS in the country I’m writing about and acknowledge the validity of their concerns. I think that is irresponsible as a travel blogger to show only one side of a problem….to encourage people to visit a potentially dangerous place when they don’t have the full picture. You are not a journalist…you don’t know what really happened in Aleppo. I had reports from my family who was there. It was pure hell. The media didn’t lie as you seem to imply. There are two Aleppos…the one where life was normal…the one under Assad’s control…the one you are seeing. The other…was devastated. It wasn’t just a minor segment as you also imply. To minimize all the suffering that happened…makes me wonder what you actually learned from this trip other than to spread propaganda. All these people commenting that they want to know how to go, how to get a visa…you really think that’s a good idea? Again, think about the responsibility you have when you are influencing people. I doubt you have the guts to let my comment be published or to respond but I hope you read this and think about it.

    1. The reason why you comment hasn’t been posted is coz I been offline for a few days traveling that simple. Here´s a FEMALE traveler that recently have been to Syria as well https://theadventuresofagypsy.wordpress.com/2017/10/18/youre-going-to-damascus-you-cant-be-syrias/ So you think everyone that visit Syria is lying about that it´s safe? I went all over Aleppo, also East Aleppo and meet with families that lived there during the heaviest of the war. I will post a lot more in a future post. Since your a travel blogger as well and with roots from Syria, GO there yourself and see with your own eyes how it really is. So why are tens of Syrian´s thanking me for my photos, that someone finally are posting how it really is there?

    2. Dear Cherene,

      you don´ get it, do you? It is not about the past, it is about the present. He never denied that the war has been hell for many people. But fact is, official media in Europe, especially Germany tells us, that most of Aleppo is destroyed and they keep manipulating the situation.

  7. What an amazing experience! Excellent photos, the people, the buildings, the beer and pizza, excellent. One I will visit. Thank you for sharing, Christian

  8. Christian, as one who was born and raised in Aleppo in a home just across the central park, I thank admire your courage for visiting Aleppo and reporting your impressions. Had the Syrian government produced this post, outsiders would have thought it was government propaganda.

  9. Hello, Giovanni from Italy. I visited Syria in 2009.Visited Damascus, Aleppo, Palmyra, Homs, arrived to Deir Ezzor and spent a night there. Took fantastics pictures. Happy to see hystorical part of Damascus is unchanged. Aleppo souk was fantastic, unfortunately it has been destoyed. Watching your pictures seems all around Aleppo historycal part bombs destroyed all; there were old Quran schools there. The big loss is the Aleppo mosque. When I went in 2009 (with my girlfriend, a rented car I drove around Sirya and a paper map ) they were about to finish the restoration…. I hope to come back one day.

    1. Heey.
      Yeah the loss of the Aleppo Mosque is a huge loss, but it will get rebuild, it will never be the same, but it will be close to its former glory. I tried to visit Palmyra and Deir Ezzor but my visa was about to expire when I got the permit to go there, but two other foreigners (one German and one American) I meet managed to visit both Palmyra and Deir Ezzor. So hopefully I will be able to go there next time.

  10. You didn’t publish my comment, well… let’s try again. Aleppo is safe today, no dout about that. The problem is the the way you tell a story of gouvernement vs terrorist, that’s very inappropriate. How dare you treat a whole people as “terrorists”, what the hell do you know about that ?

  11. If you visited Syria with no bias, can you explain why you promoted your posts to pro-Assad Twitter accounts? Did you speak to any of the thousands of internally displaced people, any of the prisoners of the Assad regime, or visit Ghouta?

    1. I tweeted it to the ones with most interaction about Syria. I talked to refugees that have moved BACK from Germany to Syria, and one that used to live in Canada but moved back to Syria, I did a video interview with him that i will most likely include in a future post about Syria

  12. The Umayyad Mosque’s minaret was probably destroyed by government forces, since the mosque itself was under rebel control at that time, but only some hundred meters from the front line. In any case there is no definitive proof that it was Al-Nusra that blew it up like you stated (and for what reason? since it was their turf and an excellent vantage point).
    I don’t support the “rebels” at all and fully agree that the media hysteria about the battle for Aleppo in its last stages was shamefully misleading, but I have an equally intense dislike for “Assad did nothing wrong” narratives. Blame where blame is due.

    Otherwise kudos on the visit, I was considering visiting Damascus from Beirut a year ago but decided not to due to time constraint and not knowing the situation on the checkpoints (I feared corrupt guards).

  13. great article and even great pictures. Many Thanks
    A question:
    Can I take your pictures to use on my blog? Are the pictures licensed under CC0? I would link to your blog of course.

    Regards from Dresden, Gemany

  14. Hallo,
    ich bin leider nicht so sprachgewandt, deshalb mein Kommentar auf Deutsch.
    Danke für die tollen, wunderbaren Fotos. Es ist wie eine Befreiung, solche Bilder von Syrien (Damaskus und Aleppo) zu sehen. Bei Epoch Times hatte jemand im Kommentar einen Link auf Deine Seite geschaltet. Jetzt brauche ich erst mal frische Luft.
    Es ist so, als hätte ich es immer gewußt! Als über uns (Eisenhüttenstadt u. Frankfurt/Oder über die Oderflut (“Jahrhundertflut” 1996)) berichtet wurde, rief mich meine Cousine aus Nürnberg an, um mir zu sagen, wie leid ihr das tut, dass es uns nun so schlecht geht. Ich mußte so lachen darüber, da sie keine Ahnung hatte, dass die Oder ja nicht komplett durch Eisenhüttenstadt floß und nur die Gärten auf den weiten Oderwiesen etwas betroffen waren.
    Wie werden wir hier in Deutschland belogen und betrogen, da bleibt einem die Luft weg!! Was machen die Syrer hier bei uns (ich wohne neben einem zentralen Aufnahmelager für 5000 Menschen und es ist voll!) ?

    1. Sie dienen lediglich dem NWO-Programm der Völkervermischung und der Zersetzung Deutschlands. Im Prinzip sind sie auch nur Opfer, die Täter sitzen – wie immer – ganz oben und Mutti Merkel ist auch nur deren Marionette.

  15. i readed your Damscus trip and now this its so amazing how you described it you went to places normal citizens wont go ,your fan from Damascus thanks for this review

  16. Hi Christian, excellent article! I loved your photos and it was very informative. I stumbled onto your blog by accident and your Syrian articles really caught my attention. I’ve been wanting to get into Syria and visit but I can’t find any reliable visa information anywhere. I was just in Beirut in September for a few days and missed my window to take action as my time was limited and I was afraid I would be denied entry at the Syrian border (again as I had no reliable information). Where and how can I apply for a Syrian visa as an American? Thank you for the advice!

    1. Heey Kevin.

      I’m not sure where Americans can apply, but I will contact the two American tourists I met in Syria and ask them to reply here about getting the visa. I did take me almost 10weeks to get my visa. I did email the Syrian embassy on Friday and they told me they could issue tourist visa in 4 to 8 weeks, so it seems like it´s getting easier and faster these days.

      Christian

  17. Ich versuche es noch mal in deutsch.
    Das ist ein faszinierender Artikel zu Syrien mit ebenso ausdrucksstarken Bildern. Ich selbst beschäftige mich seit Jahren mit Syrien, ohne jemals dort gewesen zu sein.
    Auf meinem Blog habe ich viele Artikel zu Syrien verfasst, wie zum Beispiel diesen:
    https://peds-ansichten.de/2016/11/die-inszenierungen-der-weisshelme/
    und ich würde mich freuen, wenn ich zukünftg – unter Angabe Ihres Blogs – diese Bilder verwenden kann.
    Herzliche Grüße aus Dresden,
    ped43z

  18. Hello,
    those who fleed from Syria to come to Germany are mostly Daesh terrorists or just say they are Syrian when in fact their are not…and those people just want to live of welfare!
    But the times are changing!

  19. Tolle Bilder.
    Ich war beruflich in den letzten Monaten 3x in Damaskus und fand es klasse.
    Ich habe mich wohl und sicher gefühlt. Warum wir in Europa immer noch subsidiären Schutz bewilligen ist mir schleierhaft.
    Zumal alle Kollegen aus Syrien mir erzählten das der Großteil des Landes nichts vom Krieg mitbekommen haben.

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