Paradise Lost: A Glimpse of Aleppo in the 20th Century

Up until September 2012, the historic old city of Aleppo had been spared the wanton destruction caused by Syria’s civil war. However, on 28 September 2012, fighting broke out between government forces and the rebels quickly spreading to the old city and the souk, believed to be the largest covered bazaar in the world. Within hours, the market was up in flames and over the course of the next few days more than a hundred shops were torched and portions of the medieval vaulted ceiling collapsed.

Photograph taken from the minaret of Al-Khosrofieh mosque looking northeast towards the entrance to Citadel in Aleppo. Circa 1930s

Photograph taken from the minaret of Al-Khosrofieh mosque looking northeast towards the entrance of the Citadel in Aleppo. Circa 1930s

Over the centuries, invaders have left their mark on Aleppo, but no assault has left a trail of destruction as devastating as the present conflict. The Syrian civil war, that continues unabated, has completely decimated this ancient city. The covered bazaar is in ruins, and the 11th century minaret inside the Umayyad Mosque has been reduced to rubble. The citadel, which is considered to be the oldest castle in the world dating back to the 3rd millennium B.C., is still caught in the crossfire between Bashar al Assad’s forces and the rebels. Nobody knows the fate of the giant wooden door that once graced the entrance of the fortress. Some reports say it was stolen while others say it was destroyed by artillery. Either way, it is just among a long list of historic troves that have suffered irreversible damage.

The exhibition, featuring late 19th and 20th century images of Aleppo is made up of glass lantern slides, stereoviews, postcards, black and white prints (scanned from original negatives) and 35mm slides.

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