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(əlĕp`ō) or


(əlĕp`), Arabic Haleb, city (1993 est. pop. 1,500,000), capital of Aleppo governorate, NW Syria. It is a commercial and industrial center located in a semidesert region where irrigation is used to grow grains, cotton, and fruit. The city is also a market for wool and hides. Manufactures include silk, printed cotton textiles, dried fruits and nuts (especially pistachios), and cement. Aleppo is a transportation hub; it has an international airport and is connected by rail with Damascus and the Mediterranean port of Latakia, as well as with Turkey and Iraq.

The city was inhabited perhaps as early as the 6th millenium B.C. In the 14th–13th cent. B.C. it was controlled by the HittitesHittites
, ancient people of Asia Minor and Syria, who flourished from 1600 to 1200 B.C. The Hittites, a people of Indo-European connection, were supposed to have entered Cappadocia c.1800 B.C.
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. Later, Aleppo was a key point on the major caravan route across Syria to Baghdad. From the 9th to the 7th cent. B.C. it was mostly ruled by AssyriaAssyria
, ancient empire of W Asia. It developed around the city of Ashur, or Assur, on the upper Tigris River and south of the later capital, Nineveh. Assyria's Rise

The nucleus of a Semitic state was forming by the beginning of the 3d millennium B.C.
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 and was known as Halman. It was later (6th cent. B.C.) held by the Persians and Seleucids. Seleucus ISeleucus I
(Seleucus Nicator) , d. 280 B.C., king of ancient Syria. An able general of Alexander the Great, he played a leading part in the wars of the Diadochi. In the new partition of the empire in 312 B.C. he received Babylonia.
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 (d. 280 B.C.) rebuilt much of the city, renaming it Berea.

The city's commercial importance was enhanced by the fall of PalmyraPalmyra
, ancient city of central Syria. A small modern village known as Tudmur is on the site. An oasis N of the Syrian Desert, 130 mi (209 km) NE of Damascus, Palmyra was important in Syrian-Babylonian trade by the 1st cent. B.C.
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 in A.D. 272, and by the 4th cent. Aleppo was a major center of Christianity. A flourishing city of the Byzantine EmpireByzantine Empire,
successor state to the Roman Empire (see under Rome), also called Eastern Empire and East Roman Empire. It was named after Byzantium, which Emperor Constantine I rebuilt (A.D. 330) as Constantinople and made the capital of the entire Roman Empire.
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, it was taken without a struggle by the Arabs in 638; subsequently, in the late 11th cent., it was captured by the Seljuk Turks. Crusaders besieged Aleppo without success in 1118 and 1124, and SaladinSaladin
, Arabic Salah ad-Din, 1137?–1193, Muslim warrior and Ayyubid sultan of Egypt, the great opponent of the Crusaders, b. Mesopotamia, of Kurdish descent.
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 captured it in 1183, making it his stronghold. The city was held briefly by the Mongols under Hulagu Khan (1260) and by Timur (1401); in 1517 the Ottoman EmpireOttoman Empire
, vast state founded in the late 13th cent. by Turkish tribes in Anatolia and ruled by the descendants of Osman I until its dissolution in 1918. Modern Turkey formed only part of the empire, but the terms "Turkey" and "Ottoman Empire" were often used
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 annexed Aleppo, which then became a great commercial city. From 1832 to 1840 it was held by Muhammad Ali of Egypt.

In the late 19th cent., Aleppo's importance declined as Damascus grew and the Suez Canal and other trade routes were developed. The city revived under French control after World War I and continued to prosper after Syrian independence (1941). The Univ. of Aleppo (1960), Aleppo Institute of Music (1955), and Muslim theological schools are in the city. Points of interest include the Byzantine citadel (12th cent.) and the Great Mosque (715). The old section of the city, including the Great Mosque, was severely damaged by fighting in during Syria's civil war.



(also Halab; ancient Beroea), a city in northwestern Syria and capital of the administrative district of Aleppo. Population, 639,000 (1970). After Damascus, Aleppo is Syria’s most important economic and cultural center. It is a railroad junction and the trade and transportation center of an agricultural region specializing in the raising of livestock and the cultivation of grain, cotton, olives, pistachios, and grapes. It has enterprises for silk winding, cotton ginning, and wool processing, as well as enterprises of the leather and footwear, metalworking, cement, and spice industries. The city has a university.

In ancient times, Aleppo was called Halap. The earliest information about the city dates from the 20th century B.C., when it was the capital of the Yamkhad state. In the late 17th century B.C., it was captured by the Hittites, and it later came under Mitannian control. In the 14th and 13th centuries B.C., it was again ruled by the Hittites. After the fall of the Hittite Empire circa 1200 B.C., Aleppo was the capital of the small Aleppo state. It became part of the Achaemenian Empire and the Seleucid state. It came under the control of Rome in 64 B.C. and was later under the rule of Byzantium. In A.D. 636 the city was conquered by the Arabs.

Aleppo flourished in the 12th and 13th centuries, becoming a center of trade, crafts, and culture. In 1260 it was conquered by the Mongols, and in the late 13th century it became part of the Mameluke Empire. It became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1516. In 1822, Aleppo was destroyed by an earthquake. Since the last quarter of the 19th century the economy of the city has been improving, and its cultural and social life has been revived. During the period of the French mandate of Syria, from the 1920’s to the 1940’s, the city was a center of the national liberation movement.

Aleppo’s architectural remains include fragments of medieval walls and five gates dating from 1390 to the early 16th century. Of special note is the strong citadel, which has an oval layout. The structure dates from the 12th and early 13th centuries; sections were completed in 1292 and the 15th and 16th centuries, and the lower part was built in Byzantine times. Other interesting buildings include the Great Mosque (c. 715, 12th—13th centuries), which has a minaret with a square layout (1090 or 1095, architect Hasan ibn Mukri al-Sarmani); the madrasa Hallawiyah (12th century), rebuilt from a Byzantine cathedral of the fifth century; and the madrasa al-Firdaus (1235). There are also 16th-century trade complexes; khans, including as-Sabun (early 16th century); and traditional homes with rich decor.

Modern Aleppo grew to the north and west of the old city and features regular residential blocks. Examples of modern architecture in the city include the university (1968–69, architect S. Mudarris and others) and the Aleppo National Museum (founded 1960), which houses works of ancient Syrian art.


Saouaf, S. Alep: Guide du visiteur. Aleppo, 1951.


an ancient city in NW Syria: industrial and commercial centre. Pop.: 2 505 000 (2005 est.)